The Scientists in Schools program allows you to work with a teacher in a flexible, professional partnership.
You will provide valuable ideas and inspiration for teachers and students; in turn, you will receive a fresh perspective on science from your contact with the classroom environment.
The program is open to research scientists and engineers; post-graduate science and engineering students and people involved in applied sciences, such as doctors, vets, park rangers and so on.
You can nominate a school, or you can leave it to us to select an appropriate school for you. As a starting point, see the maps of registered schools who are waiting for scientists. There are many other schools who have not yet registered, so please don't feel constrained by this list of schools.
- What’s involved?
- What’s in it for me?
- Police checks and security
- Support for your partnership
- The registration process
- Frequently asked questions
You have control over your involvement with your partner teacher, so your partnership can suit your availability and interests.
For example, you could:
- arrange a class visit to your workplace or another science site
- give a presentation to a class of students
- help run a school science fair
- mentor students who are working on science projects
- answer students’ questions by email
- help a teacher run science activities with students
- provide support and information to teachers.
You can read about successful partnerships in our showcases.
The most beneficial partnerships (for all involved) are those that are longer-term rather than one-off.
Scientists who have worked with schools have found it very rewarding. Their own enthusiasm for science is often increased through contact with students’ curiosity and engagement.
Many scientists also feel a sense of achievement in nurturing and inspiring students’ interest in science as a career option and as part of their every day lives.
Scientists who undertake any type of interaction with students are required by State and Federal governments to undergo security screening.
If you haven’t already undergone a recent security screening through the Australian Federal Police (or equivalent), the Scientists in Schools team will help you arrange this once you register.
The Scientists in Schools program provides support materials to all scientists who are partnered with a school through the program. This support material includes:
- information and tips about working with schools, teachers and students
- ideas for establishing and maintaining a partnership with a school
- teaching and learning materials that can be used with students.
Resources and ideas are also available on the website.
We will maintain contact with you throughout the life of the Scientists in Schools program or for the duration of your partnership, to provide any advice and assistance required.
We will periodically offer free professional development workshops for participants, in which you will share ideas with other participants and learn new skills in working with schools. Invitations will be sent by email to local participants.
Partnered scientists and teachers are also invited to join the Scientists in Schools email list, which allows them to contact participants across the country to ask questions, share ideas and discuss topics relating to their partnerships.
You can register for Scientists in Schools online. On the registration form we will ask you for your contact information, as well as:
- your preferences about the location and style of partnership you undertake
- your supervisor contact details
- some general information about your qualifications and research area.
All scientists who participate are required to have the support of their supervisor or equivalent. Scientists who don’t have a supervisor, for example self-employed professionals, can select the ‘not applicable’ option in this section of the registration form.
If you like, you can nominate a school that you would like to work with. You can choose from the list of unmatched schools, or nominate any other school not on the list. If you choose not to nominate a school, we will select an appropriate school for you.
Once you have registered, we will match you with a teacher according to your stated partnership preferences. If there is no teacher already registered who matches your preferences, we will endeavour to recruit a suitable teacher for your partnership.
We will then send you the teacher’s contact details and your support materials; at the same time we will send your contact details to the teacher. You can initiate the partnership at any time after this. We will contact you to ensure that you have received all the material and to check that you and the school have made contact. You and the teacher can then develop the partnership in a way that suits you both.
I’m involved in science, but don’t work in a laboratory. Can I register?
Most likely. We take a broad view of ‘scientists’ and are happy to include people who work in applied science areas as well as research scientists and engineers. Please register and we will contact you if we need further clarification.
Why do you need to know my age?
Information about your age is only collected as part of demographic data. We welcome scientists of all ages.
What if my circumstances change after I partner with a school?
At any time you can negotiate with your partner teacher to change the style of partnership to fit with your new circumstances. If you are no longer able to participate, you can leave the partnership and we will endeavour to find another scientist to take your place.
How much time will the partnership take?
That’s entirely up to you. You can choose to spend a few hours per term, or visit a school every week. You and your partner teacher can choose a style of partnership to suit your availability.
I’m already working with a school – should I register anyway?
Yes, please do. We are keen to find out about successful partnerships that have been developed through other programs or directly between schools and scientists. There’s room on the form to describe your existing partnership(s). If you don't want another partnership, please tell us; in this case we will simply record your existing partnership in our database and give you access to all the Scientists in Schools support and resources.
What about money?
There is no charge to register for Scientists in Schools or to be partnered with a school. Please also note that we’re unable to pay for your time or any costs incurred through the partnership.
Will my details remain private?
What do the subject areas cover?
The subject areas listed on the registration form are based on the national education framework and represent the way that science, technology and mathematics subjects are covered in most schools. They relate to traditional disciplines as follows:
- Earth & Space - environmental science, astronomy, geology, oceanography, climatology, meteorology etc
- Living Things - biology, ecology, medical science, animal and plant science, agricultural science etc
- Energy & Force - physics
- Matter - chemistry, materials science
- Mathematics - all areas of pure and applied mathematics and statistics
- Engineering & Technology - engineering, computer science, ICT, design, construction, inventions etc
- Working Scientifically - scientific methodology, experiment design, science communication, fieldwork etc
What sort of activities can I do in the partnership?
Let your imagination guide you! You and your partner teacher can decide on activities that interest you and the students. See some examples of what others have done. You may need to discuss issues of cost, equipment availability and safety with your partner teacher.