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Nerissa Hannink
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More than 100 high-achieving Year 9 science students from under-represented schools will visit the Bio21 Molecular Science and Biotechnology Institute at the University of Melbourne today to learn more about study and research at university.

Students from North and West Melbourne high schools that are currently under-represented in the University’s student cohort have been invited to ‘Science Discovery Day’ to inspire them to pursue a career in science. 

As part of the day, the Bio21 Institute, a multidisciplinary research centre specialising in medical, agricultural and environmental biotechnology and nanobiotechnology will host a ‘Science Expo’.

The spectacular glass atrium at the Bio21 Institute will be full of interactive displays including growing crystals, insects under the microscope, solar cells, DNA extraction and an art and science experience said Expo co-ordinator Ms Helen Varnavas.

“We have designed a very hands-on, interactive event to jump start the students’ interest in a career in science.  Researchers will be on hand to discuss their work and career path,” said Ms Varnavas from the Bio21 Institute, University of Melbourne.

Other activities during Science Discovery Day include the secret life of a mathematician, a trip around the periodic table, the physics magic show and how to program a lego robot.

Schools attending will be from suburbs including Altona, Sydenham, Hoppers Crossing, Lalor North and Roxburgh Park.

Former graduates from participating schools, who are now studying a Bachelor of Science at the University of Melbourne will act as student hosts and ambassadors to give the Year 9 students an insight into university life from someone who has already made the transition to university.

Science Discovery Day organizer Ms Nicola Townsend said the day also enabled the students and teachers from different schools to interact and share their passion for science and maths.

“Engaging high school students to study maths and science at university-level is critical for Australia’s research and economic future,” said Ms Townsend.

“Australia has recently seen a concerning decline of Year 12 enrolments in the core sciences of maths, physics and chemistry.”

“Research shows that the earlier we engage high school students in maths and science, the more likely they will go on to study them at university level. Hopefully our Science Discovery Day will play a part in that.”