Co-developer of "The Virtual Scientist"
Virtual resources that enhance student learning outcomes in the STEM field – The Virtual Scientist

Are you eligible for Breaking Barriers Category:

SUMMARY

I am passionate about developing virtual tools that enhance student learning outcomes in the STEM field. I engage with students from kindergarten to postgraduate levels and have a YouTube channel, "Chemistry with Dr Steph". I also co-developed "The Virtual Scientist" (thevirtsci.com),  a website where we host freely available virtual laboratory experiments that we have custom developed and produced. New experiments continue to be developed and align with the QLD science curriculum. This free resource was produced to bridge the gap for disadvantaged schools and students, and all the students need is an internet connection and any device. We have shown that our resource produces similar learning outcomes as completing the same hands-on experiment. Students gain a deeper understanding of the theory behind the experiment due to the gamified aspects within this resource.

BENEFIT – A description of the benefit of your work to Queensland (max 500 words)

Over the past seven years, I have been extensively involved with the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority (QCAA) and the Royal Australian Chemical Institute (RACI). I am currently a board member of the National Chemical Education Division of the RACI, and my involvement includes organising national and local conferences, symposiums, and student experiences. My passion for chemical education and understanding of the senior science curriculum and the challenges high school educators face has resulted in two freely available resources, my YouTube channel "Chemistry with Dr Steph" and "The Virtual Scientist". My YouTube channel consists primarily of lightboard videos designed to be short and snappy and engage students. They are on point and complement the senior chemistry curriculum and the general first-year university chemistry curriculum. I chose to put these resources on YouTube and be publicly available to promote women in STEM. All the popular chemical education channels are male-dominated, and I want students to see a relatable female figure that may encourage them. I am continually adding to this pool of videos and hope to improve the channel's popularity. "The Virtual Scientist" is a freely available resource that can replace in-person laboratory experiments. We have shown that student learning outcomes are similar to completing the same hands-on experiment. When the virtual tool is used, students gain a deeper understanding of the theory compared to completing the same experiment in class. This is due to the slow natured pace and personalised experience that we have embedded into the virtual experiments. We are currently still producing virtual laboratory experiments with the next suite to align with the QLD senior science curriculum, and then depending on our funds, we will produce resources for all high school and primary school science subjects. We aim to make the resource free for users and a one-stop place for schools around QLD to access virtual laboratory experiments. I envision that they would act as a substitute for when in-class experiments cannot be completed due to the lack of resources, campus access or in-class time. Although it will be tailored to the QLD curriculum, this resource will also align with the general Australian curriculum and most international curriculums of the same subject levels. The resource will help with equality throughout the schools and ensure that no student will miss out on basic laboratory experiments.


ROLE MODEL – Why do you think you are a good role model for women and girls aspiring to work in STEM? (max 500 words)

I am a good role model for women and girls in STEM because I lead by example and share my passion. I am a mum, an assistant professor at Bond University and an active member of the Royal Australian Chemistry Institute. I regularly organise and deliver science shows and experience days for local schools, and I love sharing my passion with girls of all ages. I particularly enjoy giving science shows at my local kindergarten where the children have never seen any STEM displays before, and their eyes light up, and their parents come and tell me afterwards that their child loves science because of me! I have developed a YouTube channel, "Chemistry with Dr Steph", which promotes women in STEM in a male-dominated platform. The videos are catchy, and feedback from students indicates that they are a valued resource. 
During COVID I still wanted to share my passion for STEM with students and keep them engaged during uncertain times, so I co-developed virtual laboratory experiments. These have evolved based on student feedback and have developed into gamed, theory focused versions of the original experiments. Working alongside students has resulted in a deeper understanding of their interests and needs for a resource. In collaboration with local schools and the Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority, we will expand our collection of virtual laboratory experiments. I aim to show girls that may not have access to hands-on resources required to complete these experiments how fun experiments are and hopefully spark a passion for STEM.  
I have an active involvement with the local, state and national community, and I have the ability to adapt, innovate and encourage girls and women in STEM. Our reach from our website and YouTube channel is national and international, and we aim to build these resources and their popularity and lead by example.


ENGAGEMENT – Describe any STEM promotion or engagement activities that you have undertaken, including both scientific and non-scientific audiences, particularly with women and girls (maximum 500 words)

Below in dot point is a list of engagement activities that I have recently undertaken:
Girls (pre-university level)

  • Science shows (annually at local kindergarten) 
  • Science experience days (annually with grades 8, 9, and 10) 
  • The Virtual Scientist – freely available virtual laboratory experiments 
  • Chemistry with Dr Steph – YouTube channel 

Women (university level and above)

  • Lecturer for the past 10 years annually teaching 120 new students
  • The Virtual Scientist – freely available virtual laboratory experiments
  • Chemistry with Dr Steph – YouTube channel 
  • Supervised and mentored 8 female Higher Degree Research students

Completed Female Undergraduate Research Students: 

  • Minnie Kim (2017), Bethaney Pointon (2016), and Amanda Tauber (2016).

Completed Female Honours Students: 

  • Caitlin Wunsch (2021), Zoe Porter (2018), Minnie Kim (2018), Amanda Tauber (2017), Madeline Sherry (2016)

Completed Female Masters by Coursework: 

  • Melissa Bain (2015) 

Completed Female Masters by Research: 

  • Julie Marion Pittet (2017 External with Swiss Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Lausanne, Switzerland) 

Submitted Female PhD Students:

  • Amanda Tauber (2018 - submitted Feb 2022)

Amandas is a multi-award-winning junior academic. She has won the Bond University 3 min thesis, the Fame lab, and won the Queensland Annual Chemistry Symposium oral presentation 3 years in a row. She has recently progressed to senior teaching fellow in the Biomedical Science program.  
Current Female Phd Students:

  • Minnie Kim (2019 - present), Caitlin Wunsch (2022 -present)

Minnie Kim has won the Queensland Annual Chemistry Symposium oral presentation 2 years in a row and obtained an external 3.5 year PhD scholarship through the Rotary Health.

Presentations 2019-2022:
As a committee member – organising the conference: 

  • Organising committee (treasurer and local chair), RACI National Chemical Education Symposium, 5th to 6th July 2021, Online.
  • Organising committee (treasurer), Queensland Annual Chemistry Symposium (QACS), 26th November 2021, Griffith University, QLD.
  • Organising committee (treasurer), Queensland Annual Chemistry Symposium (QACS), 27th November 2020, QUT, QLD.

As a presenter:

  • Invited seminar: School of Chemistry & Molecular Biosciences at the University of Queensland, 11th April 2022. 
  • Invited Seminar: HSM L&T Webinar Series, Bond University, 3rd February, 2021 
  • Invited seminar: Professional Development Breakfast for Health & Science Teachers on the Innovations in Teaching Chemistry, Bond University, 23rd February,2021
  • American Chemical Society’s National Meeting, 25th October 2019, San Diego, United States, PAPER ID: 3200101 (final paper number: MEDI 14)
  • Invited seminar: 2019 Tertiary Studies Expo TSXPO, July 2019, The advances in modern medical science (General Audience)

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