Scientists in Schools

A sustainable partnership

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  • Rachel Brown, Sassafras Primary School, Sassafras, TAS
  • Carol Walker, GlaxoSmithKline
Over the past eighteen months, Sassafras Primary School students have been on a journey of discovery during Carol's weekly visits. Their curiosity and intense passion for asking "Why?" has shown these students from Tasmania's rural north that being a scientist is open to anyone with an interest.

Sustainability, with an emphasis on scientific principles, is a common theme for Carol's visits. Together Carol and the students have investigated their carbon footprint, greenhouse gases, and energy and food production. The informal discussions arising from their investigations benefitted from enthusiastic student participation.

Working on individual food production projects reinforced students' new skills, with one group investigating insects as sustainable food. Carol worked intensively with a group of Year 5 and 6 students who submitted their project in the Primary Industry Centre for Science Education (PICSE) Science Awards where they placed second.

Using agar plates

Studying bacteria

Rachel and Carol's partnership has fitted into the classroom seamlessly, with Rachel very appreciative of Carol's contribution. She is encouraged to see that "other professionals are as committed to our students' education as schools are and are prepared to devote time and resources to enable this to happen." In addition, all Sassafras Primary School staff have learnt about new methods to deliver science from Carol, increasing their confidence with the subject.

Rachel sums up the students' experience: "Students are gaining a real, firsthand experience of what a scientist can look like. It has inspired the students and may lead to a career in science for some."