5 Oct 2023

Dr Helen Weston

Innovation in Teaching

Dr Helen Weston

Students at Loreto College Coorparoo are helping scientists develop innovative solutions to real-life STEM challenges thanks to Dr Helen Weston.

The Innovation in Teaching Award recipient leads the Collins Library team at the College, working with the Science department and STEM industry partnerships to create the Citizen Science Corner, a research space where students can apply skills learnt in class to engage with global challenges facing them today.

“The Citizen Science Corner provides the perfect blend of Science and Technology interaction. To date we have hosted: The Globe At Night; iNaturalist; Soils for Science and we are finishing with Loreto’s Big Butterfly Hunt,” she said.

Championed by students, under the guidance of Dr Weston and her team, the space generates evolution of science literacy and research analysis skills to engage them beyond the classroom, facilitating participation within research projects that add value to their classroom learning.

The first project, Globe at Night, provided data for light pollution provoked such student interest that the second project, iNaturalist, saw a 250% increase in student participation.

The benefits of the Corner go beyond skills of research and analysis, to essential skills of teamwork, communication, and planning.

“We have seen an increase of student participation with individual students opting to extend their interest and create their own profiles for ongoing participation,” Helen explained.

“I look for opportunities to involve students in authentic research experiences, such as Citizen Science, because they really do engage and think about the contributions they can make in STEM research.”

As a member of the Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) and the Australian School Library Association (ASLA), Helen provides professional advice on school library policy and advocates for the relevancy of school libraries. She has also presented on the benefits of reading for enjoyment, STEM in school libraries, and using data informed practice in school libraries.

With 38 years in classrooms across a range of subject areas, Helen has taught English, Geography and History, working her way up to Head of Department English, transitioning from Head of Department to Teacher Librarian in 1998.

“It is my hope that my passion for learning and research is evident and will inspire students to ‘want to learn’ in their chosen subject areas, but also in STEM.”