Archived News Item

Damascus Students ‘Speed date’ Local Scientists

Eliza, Zookeeper at Ballarat Wildlife Park with a group of Damascus students


On Monday May 8, Damascus College, Ballarat held its annual ‘Speed date a Scientist’ event. The event continues to be well received into its seventh year and offers the opportunity for Year 9 Students to sit down and engage with scientists within their local community.


At the event, each student is given 10-15 minutes to interact with a scientist and learn about their field, including their daily routines, challenges and the education pathways that got them to where they are today. The event sees students engage in small groups, making their way through up-to nine local scientists.


Ivanka Saric, Damascus College Science Learning Area Leader, is the founder and coordinator of this popular event.


Ivanka Saric


“While the students are able to choose their group of scientists, based on their own areas of interest, common feedback each year is that they wish they had had more time to meet and listen to each speaker,” said Ivanka. “This year we had 33 scientists who generously donated their morning to educate and inspire our Year 9 students.”


The template for the event saw students rotate amongst speakers, where they listened, talked, asked questions and completed a worksheet on their experience. The exposure that students have to these careers seeks to highlight the relevance of Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Physics and Psychology  going forward into year 10 and VCE.


“Over the years our students have loved learning about the potential careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) as well as Allied Health,” says Ivanka. “Many of them have commented that they had little-to-no knowledge about these careers and that the ‘Speed date a Scientist’ event has opened up their thoughts to the possibility of these careers in the future, or something closely related.”


The local scientists donating their time to the Damascus College event include past students, currently in the workplace and at university, parents to current and past students and members of the Victorian community. The program welcomes speakers who are Nurses, Exercise Physiotherapists, Architects, Engineers, Midwives, Environmental Scientists, Geologists, Physiotherapists, Clinical Psychologists, Health Researchers, Astronomers, Meteorologists, Physicists, Podiatrists and students who are studying at Deakin University and Federation University.


Ivanka expresses her gratitude to the volunteers who have taken time away from their places of work to share their knowledge with Damascus College. “Each speaker brings something unique and valuable to the students.  Our students have particularly been taken by the Speech Pathologists, who have brought in different equipment to show, including the equipment they use to produce speech.”


“The event has been really successful each year,” Ivanka continues. “It has achieved particular success in maintaining the connection between the school and past students; and also engaging the wider community.”


Kathryn Campbell, Healthy Parks, Healthy People Environmental Science


The ‘Speed date a Scientist’ event has grown over the years and has become an annual calendar entry for many of the volunteer speakers.


“When I think back to the first event we held, seven years ago, I remember how nervous I was,” says Ivanka. “There was uncertainty around speaker attendance and the attention span of our students. I remember walking into the event for the first time and being reduced to tears. There was a very special buzz of energy and enthusiasm in the room.”


“Seven years later, that same feeling remains at each event and we look forward to holding ‘Speed date a Scientist’ for many years to come.”


Messages to: Sarah Boswell

29 May, 2017