Scientists in Schools

Information for teachers

The Scientists in Schools program allows you and your students to work with a scientist in a flexible, professional partnership.

The scientist can act as mentor, role model or inspiration for your students, providing you and them with access to new ideas and fresh perspectives in science. In turn, you and your students will help scientists see their work from a new angle and stay engaged with the public perception of their work.

The program is open to schools anywhere in Australia, and to all levels of schooling. The 'scientists' involved will come from a wide range of disciplines and will include research scientists, engineers and people involved in applied science (such as GPs, vets and park rangers).

What's involved?

Your involvement with the scientist can be tailored to suit your availability, interests and classroom situation, and will also depend on the scientist's availability.

For example, you could:

  • Take your class on a visit to the scientist's workplace
  • Ask the scientist to give a presentation about their career or area of work
  • Work with the scientist to develop a project or unit of work related to their research
  • Email students' science questions to the scientist
  • Collaborate with the scientist to run science activities for your students
  • Undertake professional development with the scientist.

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.

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What’s in it for me and my students?

Students can benefit by:

  • exposure to a science role model for career inspiration
  • learning more about the role of science in society
  • exploring the science being studied in their community
  • discovering the ‘real’ science behind their curriculum.

Teachers have the opportunity to learn about cutting edge science research in their area of interest, and to create links with scientists and science organisations for teaching and learning inspiration.

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Police checks and security

Scientists who undertake any type of interaction with students are required by State and Federal governments to undergo security screening.

The Scientists in Schools programme will work with your school and your scientist partner to ensure that all security requirements are met before you commence your partnership.

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Support for your partnership

The Scientists in Schools team provides support materials to all teachers who are partnered with a scientist through the program. This support material includes:

  • information and tips about working with scientists and science organisations
  • ideas for establishing and maintaining a partnership with a scientist
  • 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 making the most of your partnership with a scientist. 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.

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The registration process

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 style of partnership you undertake
  • the year levels and subject areas you’d like to have involved
  • your principal’s contact details.

All teachers who participate are required to have the support of their principal.

If you like, you can nominate a type of scientist that you would like to work with. You can request a specific scientist who you might know or nominate a field of research that would suit you and your school.

Once you have registered, we will match you with a scientist according to your stated partnership preferences. If there is no scientist already registered who matches your preferences, we will endeavour to recruit a suitable scientist for your partnership.

We will then send you the scientist’s contact details and your support materials; at the same time we will send your contact details to the scientist. 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 scientist have made contact. You and the scientist can then develop the partnership in a way that suits you both.

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Frequently asked questions

I’m in a remote or regional school with no science organisations nearby. Can I participate?
Absolutely. If we can’t find a local scientist or someone who works in an applied science field, we will consider other options such as email or teleconference partnerships, or finding a scientist willing to travel to your school.

What if our circumstances change after we partner with a scientist?
At any time you can negotiate with your partner scientist 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 teacher to work with the scientist.

How much time will the partnership take?
That’s entirely up to you and your partner scientist. You can choose to spend a few hours per term together, or have a visit from your partner scientist every week. You and your partner scientist can choose a style of partnership to suit your circumstances.

I’m already working with a scientist – 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 provide you with 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 scientist. Please note that we’re unable to pay for teacher release time or any costs incurred through the partnership.

Will my details remain private?
Please read the legal notice for details of our privacy policy.

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 scientist can decide on activities that interest you and the students. See some examples of what others have done.

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