Scientists in Schools

Planting the seed

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  • Kerrie Cogger, St Emilie's Catholic Primary School, Canning Vale, WA
  • Rowena Long, Kings Park and Botanic Garden and University of Western Australia (UWA)
Rowena with students from St Emilies

When weed specialist Rowena partnered with Kerrie, she had the opportunity to germinate some seeds of a different kind. Through Rowena's enthusiasm, St Emilies' Catholic Primary School students have been introduced to scientific ideas and vocabulary not normally learnt in primary school. In the process, Rowena has become part of the school community, even presenting awards at the end of year prize giving ceremony.

When weed specialist Rowena partnered with Kerrie, she had the opportunity to germinate some seeds of a different kind. Through Rowena's enthusiasm, St Emilies' Catholic Primary School students have been introduced to scientific ideas and vocabulary not normally learnt in primary school. In the process, Rowena has become part of the school community, even presenting awards at the end of year prize giving ceremony.

Rowena explains why she enjoys her partnership. "Working in weed research means that there are often months or years between when I start a project and see a result, but when I go to St Emilie's I get a 'result' and sense of achievement within 90 minutes! Seeing students learn, and the 'light bulbs come on' as they find their own connections between ideas, is super satisfying for me."
With Kerrie's encouragement, Rowena developed hands-on activities for the Year 6 students. She has learned from Kerrie's resourcefulness about doing science outside the laboratory using readily available supplies.

Kerrie with her students
Rowena help set up experiment
Once a term, the students have enjoyed different activities from finding out what makes lemons sour to investigating UV light. Visiting Rowena's laboratory at UWA was the highlight for students, their letters expressing their appreciation. "Thank you for taking us on the tour of the lab and letting us look at the plants and science equipment. I learned a lot of things from what you told us," Isabel wrote.
When asked what she'd say to encourage others to join Scientists in Schools, Rowena said, "Do it – the satisfaction that comes from helping students to learn, and feeling part of a school community, is really invigorating."