Stem Cells Australia joined forces with the Melbourne Neuroscience Institute and the Gene Technology Access Centre (GTAC) to host a program for high school students in years 8 and 9 to celebrate the achievements of women in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine).
The day commenced with a screening of the award-winning film ‘Stem cell stories’ which provides an introduction to the world of stem cell research. Innovative hand-drawn animation, beautiful cell photography and documentary interviews capture the fascination and complexity of this cutting-edge area of science.
Following the film, students split into groups in the GTAC laboratories. Students worked alongside young scientists from the University of Melbourne, the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, the Centre for Eye Research, the Florey Institute and GTAC to explore the world of stem cell research, ethics and communications. Students used microscopes and played games in this interactive session that was aimed at embedding knowledge about different types of stem cells, stem cell technologies and modelling, critical thinking and scientific principles and ethics.
In the afternoon, students were treated to a fascinating and personal insight into the lives of our three key note speakers. Christine Wells, Director, Centre for Stem Cell Systems, University of Melbourne, Maja Divjak, Scientific Animator, GTAC and Mirella Dottori, Group Leader of the Stem Cell Laboratory at the Centre for Neural Engineering, University of Melbourne all gave inspiring and honest narratives of their journey into the world of science and science communications.
Following fun lunchtime activities (including an entertaining and competitive stem cell game), students participated in ‘Communicating your Science’. Students worked with young scientists to attempt to understand their research by reviewing two posters and then meet the poster presenters to ask questions about their research.
The Women in Stem Cell Science program was a unique and exceptional experience for all involved, especially the teachers, their students and the twenty scientists who so generously shared their knowledge and enthusiasm.
Many thanks to the organisers of this event: Megan Munsie (Stem Cells Australia, The University of Melbourne), Jacinta Duncan, Fran Maher and Alex Sipidias (GTAC), Amy Bugeja (Melbourne Neuroscience Institute, University of Melbourne) and Jennifer Hollands (Florey).