Science Experience

When the school term finishes at the end of every year, many students celebrate and go into relaxation mode.

But a dedicated group of Senior School students have been using the holidays to their advantage – chasing down work experience opportunities and learning as much as possible ahead of their university careers.

Last year, Year 12 students Mia, Charlotte, Madi and Alida spent their summer holidays at the Kings Park’s science laboratory.

They shadowed Dr Alison Ritchie, a Perth College Old Girl and Research Scientist in the field of restoration ecology and conservation genetics.

The girls met Dr Ritchie during a Year 11 Biology excursion and reached out for the chance to learn more about local flora.

Alida said they toured the greenhouses, observed PhD students and learned all about seed banks.

“We were helping out in the labs with counting seeds for viability. We used an X-Ray machine and checked weights to try and work out if the embryos were good or bad quality,” she said.

“It was really beneficial considering we all want to go into a science career,” Charlotte added.

The girls, who are all studying Year 12 ATAR Science subjects, are interested in pursuing careers in similar fields.

Alida would like to get into genetics, Madi would like to study conservation biology and zoology and Charlotte is hoping to work in neuroscience and psychology, while Mia has been accepted to the University of Western Australia to study biomedicine.

“It was really cool to see the sort of environment we eventually want to work in and be able to speak to people already in that field,” Madi said.

Alida said she hoped to undertake similar work experience before starting at university next year.

Meanwhile Mia has also been accepted for a number of other volunteer placements she applied for.

Later this year, she will complete one week of full-time work experience at the Telethon Kids Institute Brain Tumour Research, looking at the effects of disease on brain tissue and potential treatments.

She will also shadow UWA lecturer and molecular biologist Dr Archa Fox for a week learning how to grow cancer cells, and head back to Kings Park’s science laboratory to work alongside Dr Ritchie again.

Mia said these were all areas she was interested in studying in the future.

“I want to do something in the area of pathology or micro-biology, so I just reached out to people in that field,” she said.

“I don’t think this is something they normally do for high school students, but I just wanted to try my luck. I thought they were all going to say no.

“I’m really looking forward to it.”