As the new Centre for Science construction takes shape, we talked with Vanessa Jackson McRae, the Head of Science at St Catherine’s School to learn more about our Science program, what we can expect from the new facilities and why science and technology really do matter.
1) How long have you been teaching at St Catherine’s?
I started teaching back in 1985 and St Catherine’s is my fifth school. Prior to teaching, I worked in a hospital as a medical microbiologist but I wanted a career with more personal contact. I came to St Catherine’s in 2007 as Head of Science and have thoroughly enjoyed my role since.
2) What are you and your staff most looking forward to in the new building and why?
The Science faculty are looking forward to the new learning spaces that provide the flexibility to change the teaching environment. The new experimental benches, particularly in Biology, Chemistry and Physics laboratories will enhance student exploration and discovery with new technology.
The new labs will assist student experimental design, delivered from Years 7-12. Students will be able to see what others are doing and this will enhance and accelerate their learning.
3) How do you motivate and explain science to girls?
The Science faculty provide students with a variety of personal journeys because most of the teachers have experience in industry, healthcare and other sectors. Our teachers have brought that passion and knowledge of what Science can be into the classroom.
We teach our students to critically evaluate information, based on an ability to understand and analyse data for themselves and make objective decisions. More than ever the world around us is dependent upon our students having the capability to develop analytical and creative skills through problem-solving and scientific skills enable students to do that.
Science creates a learning environment where students gain hands-on experience.
4) What are the most rewarding aspects of teaching science?
The change in a student’s mindset when you explain a concept or present a problem and the student is able to identify the links and ultimately find the solution.
5) Why are science and technology so important for our students to study?
Students may not necessarily pursue a science-based career but the subject itself builds creativity, critical thinking and evaluation skills as well as the ability to make judgements and decisions that are clear and rational, based on data and evidence.
While the impact of Science may not always be obvious, almost everything we use in day-to-day life has a scientific foundation. Science changes peoples’ lives.