There aren’t too many classes that begin with the teacher asking, “Does everybody have a brain?” However, given that BSSC Year 11 Psychology students were dissecting a sheep’s brain, the question was most pertinent. These students participated in a week of workshops titled ‘The Mind, The Brain and Behaviour” run as part of the Science Outreach Program at the Bendigo campus of La Trobe University. This program allowed students to participate in interactive workshops with committed scientists seeking science-based solutions to some of society’s biggest challenges.
Their lecturer was former BSSC graduate, now La Trobe PhD student, Sara Al-Rawi, whose passion for neuroscience and psychology inspired students. “These students are studying Psychology, so it’s very important they understand the way the brain works at a biological level. People’s behaviour is not only influenced by their environment, but also their biology—the chemical reactions that occur in the brain and the rest of the body.” Recent BSSC graduate, now La Trobe student, Ashley Eadon, was also on hand to assist students and share her own experiences of studying Psychology at secondary level.
This partnership between BSSC and La Trobe seeks to help rekindle a passion for STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) at a time when “Australian performances in mathematics and science have stagnated … according to latest findings from the 2015 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) report … During this same period — 1995-2015 — high-performing countries such as Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei and Japan made steady improvements, while other countries including Canada, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland and the US have improved and now outperform Australia.”(For the rest of this article see: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-11-30/timss-australian-schools-continue-to-fall-behind/8078060).)
La Trobe’s Rachel Meredith said, “La Trobe highly values our connection with BSSC because they are committed, like we are, to preparing their students for career choices on global frontiers, some of which are yet to be imagined.” Ultimately these sessions aim to reveal the critical relevance of science in the wider world and ignite a passion for science.”