Scientists in Schools

A scientist with a heart

  • Samantha Nicol, Beecroft Primary School, NSW
  • Peter Watterson, University of Technology Sydney and CSIRO Material Science & Engineering

Peter says the most exciting project he has worked on in his professional life is the VentrAssist artificial heart, so what better topic to enthuse his young audience of 500 budding scientists at Beecroft Primary School during Science Week.

It wasn’t only Peter who got a buzz out of this experience; the students picked up on his enthusiasm and passion for the topic. When they subsequently went on a visit to the Powerhouse Museum, they were able to link some of the displays back to Peter’s talk.

Peter Watterson gives a presentation about the VentrAssist artificial heart

Beecroft Primary School has been developing their science program for a while, but classroom teacher Sam felt she needed the extra input of a scientist to take the program to a higher level and also, to assist her to answer some of the complex questions the students raise. Having access to Peter via email and phone when those tricky occasions arise is one of the greatest benefits to her.

Together, Sam and Peter decided that Peter’s best contribution will be acting as a mentor for Year 6 students when they carry out their own science investigations for the Blue CREST Award. Peter will try to bring other colleagues along too, since there is enough work for about six scientists, given the large number of small teams of students.

Aside from that, Peter will run the occasional workshop at the school, such as the physics/engineering workshop scheduled for 2008.

Sam says that having the students work with real scientists has raised the profile of science in the school community - to the extent she believes it to be almost a celebrity subject now!