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Wednesday 13 October

Dr Sham Nair & Dr Lauren McKnight
NSW Department of Education   |  Garvan Institute

The development of, and influences, on scientific thinking (Module 1)

Modern scientific practice is a product of a rich historical tradition, moulded and shaped by numerous influences. The foundations of scientific thinking (Module 1) sets the tone for the rest of this course. In the first part of this presentation, we will explore the origins of modern science, including its systems of thinking. The body of knowledge produced by scientific research is a powerful tool to understand natural phenomena. However, science does not operate in isolation of society. Then, in the second part, we will examine the various influences on scientific research, such as ethics, politics and economics. A common thread that runs through the different components of this presentation is using specific strategies to teach the key ideas of module 1.

Dr Sham Nair is the Science Advisor, 7-12, at the NSW Department of Education. He taught in several high schools before assuming his current role at the department. Dr Nair’s career spans academia, scientific research and school teaching. Trained as a molecular biologist, his research interests focussed on immunology and genomics. After a research visit to the Carl Weimann Science Education Initiative in Canada, he became involved in science education research and has been a science teacher in NSW schools. Dr Nair's currently works actively with schools to support science curriculum implementation and science education in general. He is also involved in lecturing and supervising undergraduate and postgraduate pre-service science teachers.


Dr Lauren McKnight is a science educator in the Garvan Institute’s Kinghorn Centre for Clinical Genomics, exploring and facilitating genetics education in school and community settings. Lauren completed her PhD in the faculty of Medicine at Sydney University and has experience and a passion for supporting scientific literacy in learners of all ages.



Dr Laura McKemmish & Dr Shannan Maisey
University of New South Wales

SciX: Ensuring quality & accessibility of university mentors & projects for Science Extension (Module 2)

[email protected] supports Science Extension students and other keen high school students to complete their research projects by providing them with access to UNSW Science’s world-leading researchers, research tools and facilities. Students are placed in small groups focused on a particular research area and technique. Each group’s UNSW Science mentors, current PhD students and practicing researchers, will introduce students to research and tools at the frontier of scientific knowledge, supporting students in developing their individual hypothesis and carrying out their independent research project.

In this presentation, we will outline how the SciX philosophy and structure enables very large numbers of high-school students to access high-quality mentorship in Science Extension and increase their scientific self-confidence and skills. We will present student feedback from our first two years and showcase opportunities available in our expanded and cheaper 2022 program.

Dr Laura McKemmish is a researcher and lecturer in the School of Chemistry at University of New South Wales. She has coordinated the [email protected] Summer School since 2020, which has welcomed more than 150 high school students to participate in a diverse range of research projects. As an educator, Laura focuses on fostering the development of strong, confident and independent problem-solvers who are confident using modern technology. She specialises in developing and delivering research opportunities and computational skills to university and senior high-school students. As a researcher, Laura focuses on computational molecular spectroscopy to find alien biosignatures.


Dr Shannan Maisey is an Education Focussed Senior Lecturer and director of 1st year teaching in the School of Chemistry at UNSW Sydney as well as a Senior Fellow of AdvanceHE. Dr Maisey earned her PhD in atmospheric chemistry at UWA in 2013 and moved to Sydney in 2017.

Shannan is an ardent supporter of skills focused course and assessment design that enhance students’ capacity for scientific thinking.  As the academic lead of the UNSW Digital Assessment and Feedback community of practice she works to drive assessment innovation at UNSW and ultimately tackle the wicked problem of designing assessment for learning with effective and scalable feedback.

Joshua Westerway, NSW DoE Science Curriculum Team

Statistics and hypothesis testing for Science Extension (Module 3)

In this workshop we will explore a dataset of the passengers and crew aboard the RMS Titanic. We will discuss the available data, prepare hypotheses for investigation, and perform a range of statistical calculations relevant to the dataset. From this workshop, teachers will be able to prepare students for the statistical calculations in their Scientific Research Projects and be able to guide students to the successful completion of their Scientific Research Reports.

Joshua Westerway is a Science Curriculum Officer with the NSW DoE and the Head Teacher of Science at Ulladulla High School. Dr Sham Nair is the Science Curriculum Advisor for the NSW DoE.


Cedric Le Bescont, PLC SYDNEY

Science Extension Module 3 & 4 The data evidence and decisions

Science Extension is a great opportunity to introduce students to R programming language and empowering them to infer scientific knowledge from big data sets. Teaching with R opens a new pedagogical landscape where teachers can transform their practice to offer diverse, differentiated and collaborative learning opportunities that will help students to structure their ideas and become more confident researchers.

This workshop will be divided in two parts. In the first part participants will be introduced to R programming language as a tool to visualize, simulate, analyse and model data. Participants will have the opportunity to run, modify and create R scripts to study Datasets from different branches of Science as well as real students' primary data.

In the second part we will be discussing how to report computed inferences, generalisations and conclusions into the final report.

Cedric LE BESCONT, is currently teaching Chemistry, Physics and Data Science at Pymble Ladies’ College. After 15 year in the Overseas French School Network where he led projects in many different countries in Australia, Europe, Africa and Asia, he transitioned to the Australian system five years ago.

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