By day, Edith Chow is a chemical sensing technologies researcher for CSIRO, looking at ways to develop rapid diagnostic tools from monitoring water pollution to disease. But in her other life, Edith is inspiring school students through hands-on chemistry activities
Edith is partnered with a teacher at Catherine McAuley Secondary School in NSW where she highlights how STEM can apply to the real-world by engaging students in hands-on activities.
One example includes using a nanosensor that is made of chemically-sensitive gold nanoparticles on a glass microscope slide. The students breathe on the sensors and observe how the electrical signal changes in response to the volatiles in their breath. This may one day become the norm to diagnose disease, all from a person's breath!
Recent studies in Australia show a decline in student engagement in STEM subjects, in particular by girls. That's why Edith's involvement in STEM Professionals in Schools is important, as it is an opportunity to showcase to the next generation how algebra and the periodic table relate to STEM careers in the real world. By sharing her own skills and knowledge, Edith's students are learning that STEM can lead to an exciting and rewarding career, like working at CSIRO!
Edith has been part of program since 2011 and runs sessions at the school twice a year. Since her involvement, enrolments in science subjects have increased. Edith hopes that her continued commitment will inspire the female STEM leaders of tomorrow.
'My favourite experience is doing hands-on activities with the students and seeing them so excited and amazed with what they can achieve. It's a way to demonstrate that science can be fun, while being creative at the same time!' explains Edith.
Edith's students also share her passion for the activities and look forward to her visits. Student Stephanie Hockey said, 'Dr Chow inspires and will continue to inspire the future women of science through her amazing efforts and dedication. Her work in nanotechnology could change the future of science and we were so very lucky to have the opportunity of her coming to visit us, and inspire us to be confident and work as hard as we possibly can.'