Held in the Westmead Education and Conference Centre, the University’s key education and training facility in the heart of Westmead Hospital, the 2-day event (June 18 and 24) saw 75 students from five local high schools undertake problem-solving science activities and interact with University students from the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Medicine and Health. The high school students, between Years 9 - 12, were selected by their schools for the event as high achievers in science.
Students participated in interactive sessions on DNA replication, transcription and translation. 36 current Honours and PhD students also presented their research to the young aspiring scientists. The medical sciences event is part of the University’s broader student outreach and engagement with Western Sydney high schools.
“In the past year we’ve engaged over 1,100 Western Sydney high school students in science, health and medicine activities hosted at the Westmead Precinct,” says Dr Pearl Lee, Senior Science Communicator (Health) for the Westmead Initiative and the Faculty of Science. Earlier this month, the Westmead Initiative hosted 80 students from Parramatta High School for a Westmead careers day, highlighting the diverse career paths on offer at the precinct in fields from radiation sciences to physiotherapy to health management.
“I was excited to talk to students doing their Honours and PhDs,” a Year 12 student from St Paul’s College Cranebrook shares. “It definitely develops greater confidence hearing students give us reassurance and seeing them being able to achieve the great things they’ve done. It really influences me to reach that potential.”
“It’s great learning what each student is doing and why they chose to do that specific field of study,” says another Year 12 student. “[The event] has opened up my mind to what’s happening behind the scenes.”
Applied Medical Sciences (Honours) program coordinator Associate Professor Andrew Harman says Honours students appreciated the opportunity to share their research with an engaged and relatable audience.
“The Honours students can really empathise and resonate with what a high school student is going through. It’s a nice opportunity to communicate back to people who they were a few years ago,” he says.
The medical science outreach event is in its third year and has already seen exceptional impact for students and teachers alike. A careers advisor from a participating high school shares her feedback: “events such as these enable students to make classroom connections with the real world, not just in research, but the impact of that research on people's lives and health”.