It was my absolute pleasure and privilege to be asked by Wonder of Science to be involved in a visit to Far North Queensland to talk and discuss careers in STEM and my own research. A huge thank you to both Wonder of Science and the Business Liaison Association for organising and funding the visit. A particular thanks to Angela Toppin for making contact with schools, myself, and providing invaluable insight to the different regions of Cairns and beyond for the trip.
My visit included going to 8 high schools (both state and private colleges) in Cairns, the Tablelands Shire, and Innisfail speaking to predominately senior and some middle school students about how a STEM career might work for them. The benefit of this trip was visiting a diversity of schools from different backgrounds, particularly those from lower socioeconomic suburbs (SES) that do not normally have access to events and visits such as these. In total, I gave 12 presentations with some schools requesting I speak to multiple classes.
Overall, the response from the students was overwhelmingly positive. They were wonderfully curious about my research into general anaesthesia, with some students bursting with questions for a good half an hour after the presentation. It was important for these students to see the process of getting into a STEM career, namely through university pathways and the mechanism for how they can achieve that. I don’t doubt that it disambiguated a lot of information for students about what you can do and why they should consider these careers.
Of particular note, the most engaged and interested students were by far from the lower SES schools. I felt that they really valued and cherished the opportunity to hear from a scientist that had flown all the way from Brisbane to speak at their school. Of particular note was a year 12 psychology studenItt from Trinity Bay SHS who begged her teacher to skip class to attend my presentation, as I was only scheduled to speak to Years 9-11. Indeed, I also felt this when I gave a presentation to high school students in Weipa the week after my visit to Cairns. Connecting with these schools and students can really change the lives and trajectories of individuals. I truly believe that I connected with at least more than 1 student from every school that thought they weren’t smart or capable enough to have a career in STEM after hearing my journey to where I am today.
We can never underestimate the value of engaging with students from the remotest corners of Queensland, and Australia on the whole, and what impact this can have them. Here in Brisbane, we forget the major privilege we enjoy being so geographically close to major Universities right on our doorstep. Inspiring the next generation of STEM students and leaders has been a pleasure, and I believe some of our best and brightest will surely come from FNQ.
PhD candidate, The University of Queensland
Adam tailored his presentation to the group of students we had at the presentation. He had the room engaged, both students and staff, with his stories about his research. His pathway in to the STEM and science field was interesting and relevant to the students. A very worthwhile presentation.
Redlynch State College
Just wanted to say a personal thanks for all the organising you did to get the Young Science Ambassador visit to happen. We had Adam come and visit us yesterday and the feedback I got from students was very positive – they particularly enjoyed the section where he went into depth about his doctorate studies. Had a handful that grilled him for ½ hour afterwards to find out more (including me)! We had about 50-60 Chemistry students attend the lecture as well as two other teachers besides myself. I’ve attached a photo I grabbed at the end with a few students – all indicated that they have media consent. Thanks for looking out for us.
Atherton State High School