THE OCEAN CALLS TO ONE SPECIAL STUDENT
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.
MARINE LIFE: Simone King has a passion for underwater creatures.