A unique learning experience

Did you know that Victoria has its own specialist secondary school focusing on science, mathematics and associated technologies?

Applications open early each year for students to attend John Monash Science School (JMSS) in Years 10, 11 and 12, which is the result of a unique partnership between the Victorian Government and Monash University. It’s located in a purpose-built facility on the university’s Clayton Campus.

JMSS has formed strong partnerships with researchers and academics in a broad mix of scientific fields at Monash University, sharing resources and expertise, and allowing students to explore the cutting edge of scientific knowledge in physics, chemistry, biology, earth science, mathematics, engineering, biomedical science, geography and computer science.

JMSS is unique in many ways — learning spaces are flexible, so that students can learn individually as well as in teams, and students develop individual learning portfolios informed by their own interests and abilities.

Students travel from all over the state to attend JMSS, and current student Geraldine explains what it’s like to study at this specialist school.

What attracted you to JMSS?

What attracted me to attend were the opportunities and facilities unique to JMSS. Also, as a science enthusiast, the idea of students and teachers who share a common passion for science and mathematics coming together to achieve something greater, as well as supporting each other and learning collaboratively, appealed to me.

How is JMSS different to non­specialised high schools?

In Year 10 we study core science (biology, chemistry and physics) as well as choosing emerging science electives such as nanotechnology, astrophysics and bioinformatics. A key feature of JMSS is the approach to learning from the students and teachers, with the open classrooms and the table arrangements, which allows flexibility as well as making it easier to communicate and collaborate with other students. Moreover, most classes are larger, and have two supportive teachers who are able to teach concurrently, or split up and take smaller groups of students in order to suit their needs. Furthermore, as a kinaesthetic learner, I learn best by experiencing things and seeing them in action, and the teachers at JMSS understand that and embrace it, and take the opportunity to engage the students as well as challenging us to stretch our knowledge of important concepts.

How did you feel when you were accepted as a student at JMSS?

I was overwhelmed with a mixture of emotions such as excitement and determination to tackle all the challenges ahead, however I was also worried about the new experiences and what JMSS had in store for me. Looking back, I didn’t have anything to be worried about because the JMSS community is one that welcomes and supports its students.

What’s your favourite subject and why?

Currently, I can’t choose what my favourite subject is because I love biology and psychology equally the most. I have a passion in these subjects, and the teachers deliver the content in an engaging and interactive method, ranging from activities such as practicals and dissections, to redesigning our brain.

What do you and your friends aspire to be when you finish studying?

When I finish my studies, I aspire to work in the field of biology or psychology because those are where my passions lie. However, I’m still watching out for other opportunities and possible future occupations available. Most of my friends are still deciding what they aspire to be, however a few of my friends hope to become engineers, physicists, chemists and biologists.

Tell us about your favourite learning experience at JMSS?

My favourite learning experience as a JMSS student was attending the annual Japan Super Science Fair held in Kyoto last year with a small team of students and a teacher to showcase our projects, as well as to interact with other schools and passionate and determined students. This opportunity has impacted me greatly, broadening my exposure to the scientific field and developing my communication skills, not only in English, but also in Japanese. This once-in-a-lifetime experience is one that I will never forget.

What would you say to students thinking about applying at JMSS?

To those thinking about applying at JMSS, I thoroughly recommend it because some of the experiences and opportunities that will be open to you here will not be available in any other place.

Join John Monash Science School for its Information Night at 7pm on Wednesday 4 May 2016, at Robert Blackwood Hall, Monash University, Clayton, Melbourne. Entry is free, and bookings are not required.

* See the school in action at its annual Science Exhibition Night from 5pm to 7pm on Tuesday 10 May. Entry is free, and bookings are not required.

Address: 39 Innovation Walk, Monash University Vic 3800

Phone: 03 9905 1002

Email: john.monash.ss@edumail.vic.gov.au

Website: jmss.vic.edu.au

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