Each year the BLA works with the University of Qld to bring one of the Wonder of Science Ambassadors to Cairns to speak with FNQ students about the career pathways STEM studies offer. This year Vanessa Zepeda, currently studying a PhD and focusing her research on chemistry and biology of early Earth environments visited FNQ schools. Vanessa is currently a junior scientist on the Mars Perseverance Rover mission searching for signs of life on Mars. Vanessa visiting schools across FNQ in March on behalf of the BLA.
Students from Mareeba State High pictured with Vanessa Zepeda
"The visit from Vanessa Zepeda was another excellent experience for the students (and staff) of Mareeba State High School. Vanessa did a great presentation about her journey from school to where she is now and gave lots of good advice to students into the future. Her presentation about her work was really interesting and she did an excellent job of explaining the Science to the different levels of students. She was very friendly and approachable and happy to answer all of the question’s students had. Many students chose to stay back at lunchtime to ask her more questions and discuss her work.
Thank you so much for another great opportunity for our regional students to get this experience."
Mareeba State High School
"Thank you for giving our senior Science students the opportunity to speak and listen to the Wonders of Science Ambassador visiting lecturer Vanessa Zepeda. Her presentation was captivating and well received - we had students afterwards talking to staff on how they could get into “working with robots on Mars” and ‘Nasa’, etc. A special thank you to the BLA for providing this visiting lecturer free of charge to our school – yet again they have shown that they are truly invested in our rural students and the community and opening the education doorway for all."
Atherton State High School
Bentley Park College students pictured with Young Schience Ambassador Vanessa Zepeda
"The visit by Vanessa was worthwhile for the students for a number of reasons. Firstly it gives students, junior and senior, a real life example of what a career in Science and STEM looks like, the range of disciplines that exist within one field and the pathways that can be taken to reach different occupations. The young Science Ambassadors are always passionate about their work, Vanessa was no exception, and the love for science really shines through, which has given students an enthusiasm for learning more about science. It also gives a purpose and a real-world context to content that they are learning or have learnt in Science. Students can see the application of knowledge and realise that it’s not learning for learnings sake but instead in order to investigate, collect information, learn more about something and from that develop new ideas and understandings."
Bentley Park College
"Presenter Vanessa Zepeda was well received by our school community. Key messages that were influential in this success were:
Cross curricular connection. Topic matter covered numerous areas of interest for our students. In the room we had a Biology, Physics and chemistry class (we were a little limited on space). Many of these students also study chemistry. While Psychology students were limited in the scientific content they may have been able to connect with (if it was their only science), they had an opportunity to hear about the journey, the networking, and how to make the most of opportunities- and to keep making the most of them. Students in other sciences were inspired by the scientific content AND the personal growth element.
Clear, uncomplicated explanations, supported with diagrams. Vanessa’s presentation was delivered to excite, engage and inspire. Her experience clearly showed her incredible wealth and depth of knowledge, but the delivery made it clear her passion was inspiring others to pursue their passion.
Vanessa spoke of how her journey involved changing interests. This is a key point of interest for our students, who often feel ‘locked in’ to decisions around careers. Feedback from previous events has often been to highlight how valuable hearing this comment is to them.
Vanessa spoke of her past and her barriers. Many of our students are socio-economically disadvantaged. Vanessa was able to connect to that and speak of how she was able to overcome barriers.
Vanessa spoke around the power of networking. Since the event, students have requested support on how to access financial supports like those Vanessa spoke of, and how to network to create connections and open further opportunities.
Thank you so much for the opportunity. We would be very excited to continue to support Business Liaison Assn to connect with WOS and inspire our young people."
Trinity Bay State High School