Science of learning
TEENAGERS are making a head start in their scientific careers by taking intensive lessons on the subject in their high school classroom. Fuelled with a passion for science, students at the Australian Science and Mathematics School are starting careers on the front foot in occupations from chefs and teachers to engineers and scientists.
The school was established in 2003 and teaches students in Years 10, 11 and 12 who have a strong interest in maths and science.
Those disciplines are incorporated into all school subjects, whether it be English, history, geography or other humanities, to capitalise on their interest and further expand their knowledge.
Associate Professor Jim Davies, the school’s principal, said students graduated from the high school already on the way to a variety of careers.
‘‘All the students who are coming here have some sort of interest in broader skills of science and mathematics and are coming from a broad range of academic abilities,’’ he said.
‘‘Students are coming to the school to get a skill-based grounding in science and mathematics areas.
‘‘A good-quality science program can provide for all sorts of pathways.’’
Year 11 student Jessica Klinenko, 17, attends the school because she likes focusing her high-school learning in an area for which she has a passion and plans to pursue a career.
She said she was constantly changing the occupation she wanted to pursue, but was now interested in architectural engineering.
‘‘I love the way things work, to find the answer to something and a lot of problem solving,’’ she said.
‘‘The architectural side of it is designing, which I also love doing, and to mix the two would be really interesting.’’
She said she liked the hands-on activities in classes and there was plenty of support from like-minded students and teachers.
Graduate Liam Daly, 22, said the school gave him an excellent head start into university studies.
This year, he finished a Bachelor of Engineering degree in computer electronics, with honours.
‘‘The curriculum at ASMS set me up well for going into university, where we work individually and in teams. I was able to move to the next level and hit the ground running with my first-year topics,’’ he said.
‘‘There are jobs all over the world and I do enjoy travelling.’’
The Australian Science and Mathematics School is not the usual type of learning centre, as emerging areas of science – such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, laser science and communication technologies – are included in the curriculum.
The school has open-plan learning areas to encourage collaborative teaching and interactive learning, and teachers are joined by international research scientists to help students with their work.
Many students pursue medical, engineering or science degrees at university after they graduate.
Others, however, choose further studies such as a double degree in law and environmental science, health sciences, nursing or vocational qualifications.
Associate Professor Davies said future chefs were interested in food science, while electricians enjoyed lessons featuring technology.
‘‘What young people are finding is that it provides a focus and gives them a broad range of options,’’ he said.
‘‘It shows what’s possible and what the connections other areas have with science.’’
For example, studying science provided a great background for a career as a science educator or teacher, or in fields such as communications, industry and commerce.
‘‘There’s a significant career path available for science educators,’’ he said.
OPEN DOOR: Jessica Klinenko, a Year 11 student at the Australian Science and Maths School, is thinking about a career in the science field, with the help of former school graduate, Liam Daly, 22. Pictures, cover and above: DEANMARTIN