Science

About Science Outreach

 Our scientists make a critical difference in the world; they seek solutions to some of its biggest challenges. A decline in the number of Year 12 students studying science suggests that more needs to be done to stimulate and nurture a passion for science, technology, engineering and mathematics in young people.

The College of Science, Health and Engineering's Outreach Program introduces high school students to University-level scientific research on three campuses (Albury-Wodonga, Bendigo and Melbourne). Our workshops and activities support Australian secondary schools' Middle Years to VCE-level science curriculum, with student notes and teacher guides provided.

Whether exploring campus wetlands to investigate the evolutionary history of Australia, making gold nanoparticles in a test tube or getting to grips with the complexities of Synchrotron science, La Trobe Outreach students experience science in a new dimension.

Download the 2017 Science Outreach brochure

Download the 2017 Science Outreach Program summary

Professional Learning Programs for Teachers

In 2017 we are offering science teachers in Victorian high schools a suite of highly specialised Professional Learning Programs (PLPs). The PLPs support and upskill secondary teachers by reinforcing content knowledge and understanding of new technologies and teaching tools to build confidence in the delivery of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. The programs are designed to support teachers at all stages of their careers, from those just starting out to more experienced teachers.

Typically, the PLPs include an introductory lecture, practical workshops and opportunities for interaction with practising scientists and researchers. Our presenters address current educational and industry context, new initiatives, and global trends, with a practical emphasis on classroom relevance. Teachers will return to their classrooms with fresh insights, renewed confidence, new ideas, and tools and techniques for communicating with their students.

Sessions run for a full day and cost $250 per person. For more information on the programs in each subject area, please see below or contact Madeline Toner, our Professional Learning Programs Coordinator on 9479 8922 or m.toner@latrobe.edu.au

Professional Learning Programs Summary

Chemistry

Chemistry for non-chemists:

Qualitative and quantitative chemistry techniques

Practical work plays a vital role in teaching any area of chemistry, helping to engage students while building understanding of core chemistry principles. However teachers who do not have a strong background in chemistry can struggle with the basic techniques that can bring the subject to life.

This hands-on workshop is designed to enhance the skills and confidence of middle-years science teachers whose major discipline is not chemistry. The techniques covered in the program can be easily adapted to any number of chemical-based situations. New skills will enable participants to increase the scope of classroom demonstrations and investigations to reinforce the importance and relevance of science in everyday life.

This full-day session will give participants the opportunity to:

  • Use titration to quantitatively determine the vitamin C content of fruit juice
  • Prepare and purify aspirin and compare it to the commercially available product
  • Use Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC) to separate and identify components in a mixture of common chemical substances
  • Solve a crime using classical chemical reactions to identify a white powder found at a crime scene

Date: Friday, 26 May 2017 (Bundoora - bookings closed). Thursday, 9 November (Bendigo).

Duration: Full-day (9:00-3:30)

Cost: $250 (GST inclusive)

Location: Melbourne (26 May), Bendigo (9 November)

Bundoora details

Bendigo details

Book now

Physics

Take charge and feel the power:

Electricity and magnetism for non-physicists

Many teachers of science, especially those without a physics background and those teaching outside their primary discipline, feel uncomfortable about teaching topics associated with electricity. Yet electricity is central to modern life and many twenty-first century careers. A solid understanding of basic electricity concepts is fundamental to being a fully scientifically literate citizen.

This predominantly hands-on workshop will deal with electricity and magnetism concepts found throughout the Victorian Curriculum, including those relating to energy changes in electrical systems.

Beginning with the basic theory of charge and electric force, participants will be guided through a series of laboratory activities on current, electricity and magnetism; including DC circuits and electric sensors, AC and household wiring, battery technology, electric motors and electricity generation.

Participants will not only investigate electricity by means of activities they can use in their own classrooms, but also explore curriculum and pedagogical approaches to optimise student learning.

This full-day session for teachers will deliver:

  • Activities relating to static electricity, electric circuits (DC) including electric force, potential energy; batteries and power supplies, current, voltage and resistance in series and parallel circuits; electric sensors; electric current (AC) and household wiring; and electromagnetism including electric generators and electric motors
  • The opportunity to see La Trobe’s astronomy dome; atomic force microscopy (AFM) lab; data visualisation lab, and Far Labs - a virtual laboratory network
  • Visits to university laboratories and short talks from scientists to gain insight into current research

Date: Friday, 16 June 2017 - bookings closed

Duration: Full-day (9:00-3:30)

Cost: $250 (GST inclusive)

Location: Melbourne

Program details

Psychology

It’s not brain surgery, or is it?

Neuroanatomy for VCE Psychology teachers

The VCE Psychology curriculum relies on a working knowledge of brain structure, function and anatomy; however this can often be the most challenging and complex topic to teach. Even for experienced teachers, the language of neuroscience can be intimidating!

This hands-on professional learning workshop is designed for psychology teachers, as well as school laboratory technicians, to help unravel the secrets of the brain. Participants will explore the history of the brain and will be guided through a brain dissection to examine the anatomy of the mammalian brain.

This full-day session of lectures and workshops explores the basic structure and function of the central nervous system, focusing on VCE Area of Study 1: How does the brain function?

Highlights of the day include:

  • A lecture on the history of the brain: from the brain versus heart debate to current neuroimaging
  • A hands-on neuroanatomy workshop including a sheep brain dissection
  • A breakout workshop for school laboratory technicians on preparing sheep brains for dissection using paraformaldehyde and safely disposing of hazardous waste
  • A practical workshop demonstrating how the brain makes memories and how diseases of the memory, such as Alzheimer’s disease, affect the brain
  • Current research being undertaken by brain scientists at La Trobe

Date: Friday, 21 July 2017 (Bundoora). Friday, 8 December (Bendigo).

Duration: Full-day (9:00-3:30)

Cost: $250 (GST inclusive)

Location: Melbourne (21 July - bookings closed), Bendigo (8 December)

Bundoora details

Bendigo details

Book now

Engineering

Engineering the future:

Teaching prospective engineers

Engineers are playing an increasingly important role as leaders of innovation and are often tasked with addressing major human, social and economic challenges occurring in our world.

Engineering is a commonly misunderstood profession, particularly by non-engineers. This can be partially attributed to the diverse range of fields, disciplines and industries where engineers work, but it also stems from a lack of visibility and acknowledgement of engineers’ contribution to socio-economic advancement.

Designed for high school teachers with limited or no formal training in engineering, this program will demystify what it means to be a professional engineer and provide the opportunity for teachers of future engineers to engage with industry professionals and academics to enhance the classroom experience.

Participants in this full-day, hands-on program will:

  • Gain a broad understanding of the engineering profession and where the industry is heading
  • Trial the latest industry equipment, and understand the context, limitations and future directions of its use
  • Learn to optimise engineering equipment for use in the classroom
  • Discuss teaching methods for engineering with university lecturers and industry professionals

Date: Friday, 18 August 2017

Duration: Full-day (9:00-3:30)

Cost: $250 (GST inclusive)

Location: Melbourne

Program details

Book now

Maths

Weapons of maths instruction:

Statistics for non-statisticians

In the current digital era of science and technology, many decisions are influenced by data and evidence. In spite of this, the statistical literacy of students is often inadequate to allow them to live and operate as educated critical thinkers.

Statistics is as much about conceptual understanding as it is about application. Helping students make sense of statistics, and overcoming their fear of the subject is a great challenge for many mathematics teachers. Sleep-inducing examples and uninspiring activities in textbooks can make this task even more difficult, especially for the non-statistician.

This workshop is designed for teachers with limited or no formal training in statistics. It aims to make statistics simple, enjoyable and accessible to students at all levels. The program puts aside the dusty old textbooks and boring pie charts; and explores how technology, creativity and playfulness can enable statistics and data analysis to be taught with style while also achieving educational and societal goals.

This full-day session for non-statistician mathematics teachers will deliver:

  • Easy to understand sessions on: design of experiments; data characteristics; describing data; sampling distributions; hypothesis testing; comparison of means; correlation; predictions, and more
  • Hands-on activities on data analysis using Microsoft Excel
  • Workshops on preparing animated slides using Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Application of statistics in various fields, such as psychology, medicine, biology, and education; and discussion session hosted by lecturers from La Trobe University and RMIT University

Networking opportunities to discuss collaboration and joint projects between schools and universities

Date: Friday, 24 November 2017

Duration: Full-day (9:00-4:30)

Cost: $250 (GST inclusive)

Location: Melbourne

Program details

Book now

Biology

Through the microscope clearly:

Cellular life for non-biologists

Cells are common in the science curriculum, fundamental to biological science and essential to our understanding of life; and microscopes give us a window into this wondrous tiny world.

Students come to the study of cells with wide-eyed enthusiasm, only to experience technical difficulties with the microscope and frustration trying to make sense of the bland, inanimate images they encounter, if indeed they see anything at all.

Even teachers trained in biology can struggle to successfully engage students in the topic. The task can be that much harder for the non-biologist.

This workshop is designed for teachers with limited or no formal training in biology. Participants will explore the topic of cells from the basics through to the more complex elements of cell biology.

This full-day session for teachers will deliver:

  • Activities such as getting the most out of microscopes; preparing slides; size matters; microscopy with unicellular and multicellular organisms; making the most of plant and animal sections and tissues; ideas for incorporating ICT in microscopy
  • A rare opportunity to see in action the state of the art confocal fluorescence microscopes, scanning and transmission electron microscopes

Insights into current cellular biology research by La Trobe University scientists

Date: Thursday, 30 November 2017

Duration: Full-day (9:00-3:30)

Cost: $250 (GST inclusive)

Location: Melbourne

Program details

Book now

Programs

We offer Outreach programs in biology, chemistry, electronic engineering, information technology and physics. Please click here to make a workshop booking.

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FARLabs - Freely Accessible Remote Laboratories (FARLabs) is a virtual laboratory network that brings the state-of-the-art facilities and world-class research of Australia's universities directly into schools to engage high-school students with science and maths nationally.