THE OCEAN CALLS TO ONE SPE­CIAL STU­DENT

Central and North Burnett Times - - FRONT PAGE -

AL­THOUGH she is only 15, Monto State High School stu­dent Si­mone King’s ca­reer as a ma­rine bi­ol­o­gist seems to have taken off.

As well as spend­ing a week at Her­vey Bay’s Nep­tune Reef­world for work ex­pe­ri­ence on the hol­i­days, Si­mone is the school’s guinea pig for a self-taught learn­ing pro­gram.

School teacher James Cochran ex­plained the school was tri­alling this model of self-teach­ing to give stu­dents the op­por­tu­nity to im­merse them­selves in sub­jects they felt pas­sion­ately about.

“It’s ba­si­cally an in­de­pen­dent re­search project, which still goes to­wards her grades at the end of the year,” he said.

So far, Si­mone has re­searched the Indo-Pa­cific hump­back dol­phin, the co­ral reef ecosys­tem, and for a prac­ti­cal com­po­nent, set up a fish tank in the school’s sci­ence lab­o­ra­tory.

“Ev­ery­one who has a class in here likes to name the fish them­selves, I think one fish has about 12 dif­fer­ent names,” Si­mone joked.

Fol­low­ing Si­mone’s re­search projects, she will then teach Year 8 stu­dents what she has learned.

“The young stu­dents love learn­ing from some­one who is not a teacher,” Mr Cochran said.

“It gives me the chance to learn about some­thing new too; I didn’t learn much about fish do­ing my eco­nom­ics and chem­istry de­grees.”

Si­mone said the best thing about teach­ing the younger stu­dents was re­al­is­ing how much she had learnt through her own re­search.

“The rea­son I first wanted to do this self-teach­ing was be­cause I was wor­ried kids from the coast would know so much more about the ocean than me when I got to uni,” she said.

“But when the kids ask ques­tions and I know the an­swer, it feels re­ally good.”

Even dur­ing her stints as a tour guide while on work ex­pe­ri­ence, Si­mone said she was never stumped by a ques­tion from the crowd.

And the time spent feed­ing green tur­tles, fresh­wa­ter tur­tles, reef sharks and fish has left her ex­cited to pur­sue the field of ma­rine bi­ol­ogy as soon as she leaves school.

PHOTO: EMILY SMITH

MA­RINE LIFE: Si­mone King has a pas­sion for un­der­wa­ter crea­tures.

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