Scientists in Schools

The power of engineering

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  • Connie Hamer, Ascot State School, Ascot, QLD
  • Tim Kehoe, BP Refinery Pty Ltd

As a mechanical engineer able to talk about maths and science, Tim visits Ascot State School Year 4 students several times a year to help bring relevance to their current science unit.

During Tim's initial visit, he talks about his work as an engineer, letting the students try out his Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). The PPE is a fun way to introduce the idea of material properties needed for the equipment. The next couple of visits link with the current science unit. Connie explains: "Tim's visits support the three interrelated strands of Science – Science Understanding, Science as a Human Endeavour and Science Inquiry Skills. Scientific method and fair test procedures are relevant to all Year 4 Science units."

Investigating samples
A photo with Tim

"We're quite flexible," said Tim. "The class will often present their current science projects and I ask them questions on why they think the variables created different outcomes." Tim's recent visit coincided with a unit on Earth Science where he utilised his knowledge helping students identify rock samples. He demonstrated how to recognise important features in the samples and answered student questions. The students were so enthusiastic they continued asking questions after the lesson.

"A partnership is easy," said Connie. "There are no set rules, just a shared commitment to sustaining the partnership over time. Visits can work around work commitments and school activities." Over the course of their three year partnership, Tim and Connie have kept in regular email contact between visits. "Any arrangement is possible with SiS," commented Tim. "It's just finding a balance of what suits the teacher, class and scientist".

Which rock sample is this one?