Twenty-five Year 10 girls from Sutherland Shire schools have been given a special insight into what it would be like to be a scientist, spending two days shadowing the work of some of Australia’s brightest young scientists at ANSTO’s main campus in Lucas Heights.

The two-day visit to Lucas Heights was part of a unique program, giving girls a chance to get hands-on with science and learn more about what a future career in science might look like.

The initiative is part of ANSTO’s broader commitment to encourage young women into STEM careers, which includes a popular graduate development program and participation in the world leading SAGE (Science in Australia Gender Equity) program.

Whilst at ANSTO, students had the opportunity to participate in research, working with scientists on projects including using spectroscopy to analyse the composition of planets; and observing some aspects of the production of nuclear medicine, which enables both diagnosis and treatment of diseases.

Participants came from five local high schools; Lucas Heights Community School, The Jannali High School, Kirrawee High School, Inaburra School and St. Patrick’s College, Sutherland.

Rod Dowler, from ANSTO’s Discovery Centre, said that the program was about giving girls a practical introduction to real world science and an enjoyable experience.

“This is about providing young women with the opportunity to be inspired by science, and help them to see themselves in these types of careers,” said Dowler.

“Not enough girls study subjects like physics and chemistry in high school and we want to help change this. According to the NSW Education Standards Authority, in 2016 just 22 per cent of students studying physics in the HSC were female.

“We’ve seen that students who have the opportunity to make a direct connection with our young researchers working to address issues in health and the environment and solving problems for industry, are far more likely to go on to select science and engineering at senior levels of school.”

As part of the program, students will have an opportunity to share their experience with their fellow students back in the classroom.

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