Home' Independence : Independence Vol 39 No 1 May 2014 Contents VOL 39 NO 1 MAY 2014 INDEPENDENCE 67
participate in this competition, often
fondly remembering the experiments
they designed in Year 6.
In the Senior School, there is a
continued emphasis on learning through
exploration, and experimental work
forms a major part of the science
A recent innovation has been the
involvement of the school in the STELR
program developed by the Australian
Academy of Technological Sciences and
Engineering (ATSE). STELR is a hands-
on, inquiry-based program used in the
delivery of the Year 8 unit on energy.
Following the theme of environmental
science and renewable energy, students
attempt to answer questions such as,
What number of blades on a wind
turbine provides optimal power? Why
are commercial wind turbines not
built with this number of blades? Are
criticisms of wind turbines justified?
An additional focus in the Senior School
is to provide opportunities to explore
STEM beyond the School environment.
A visit to the Australian Grand Prix
provides an opportunity to learn about
STEM technologies in the design
of Formula One cars and race track
design. The Australian Synchrotron
provides a number of year levels with
an insight into the research Australian
scientists are conducting at this facility.
Experiences at the Gene Technology
Access Centre (GTAC) allow students
to manipulate, alter and separate
DNA. The facilities at a number of
the universities in Melbourne are well
utilised by Ruyton students, sparking
the students’ interest in the study of
science at the tertiary level, and there is
a high level of participation in external
Ruyton is also part of the Scientists
in Schools program, with a practising
scientist visiting the school and assisting
with a range of activities, giving the
students further opportunity to engage
with science professionals. Other ways
we promote careers in STEM include
participation by students in seminars
run by young women scientists.
Past students are also invited back
to the School in order to share their
experiences and inspire students into
ACTING DEAN OF SCIENCE, RUYTON GIRLS’
REAL WORLD PHYSICS
St Catherine’s School, Toorak, VIC
St Catherine’s is a day and boarding school for
girls with 700 students from early learning to
Year 12. Principal: Mrs Michelle Carroll.
CONTRARY to state and national trends, at
St Catherine’s School student enrolments
in VCE Physics have increased in recent
years. This is due to the dedication of staff,
changes to the Years 9 and 10 curricula
and the option of extension activities
for our students, including the student-
driven Astronomy Club and participation
in Extension Physics at the University of
Melbourne whilst completing Year 12.
St Catherine’s Science faculty staff
members are continually reflecting on
pedagogy and implementing research-
based innovations to enhance the learning
Recent research undertaken by St
Catherine’s science teacher, Mr Fiachra
Barry, for a Master’s thesis on the under-
representation of women in physical
sciences found that explanations for
the gender imbalance in the physical
sciences can be broadly divided into
three categories: factors related to social
influences and stereotypes; self-efficacy;
and pedagogy and disciplinary content.
These categories are not mutually exclusive
and there is a large overlap between them.
St Catherine’s has addressed these factors
by engaging students in the physical
sciences in the real world through the
Science Students @ Work Program.
This program provides schools with the
opportunity to change students’ perception
of science through open investigations.
Teams of students are given a design brief,
solve a particular problem.
As part of the Program at St Catherine’s, a
group of Year 10 students was given a brief
to create a device that would help improve
the communication and learning skills of
very young children with profound autism
and other cognitive disabilities. After
consulting with staff at the Diamond Valley
Special Development School, the students
devised the ‘iTed’, an electronic teddy bear
that is able to speak on behalf of children
when its paw is squeezed.
RUYTON students using the STELR equipment to
investigate the effect of the number of blades on
power output of wind turbines.
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