Cummins pub talking science


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By Ian Williams

In a rather peculiar development folk in the Eyre Peninsula community of Cummins are all talking science.

The kids love it, parents have got the bug and now it’s a hot topic in the local pub.

And it’s all thanks to the passion and drive of local science teacher Kirsty Fox whose interest in the subject is proving infectious.

Kirsty was South Australia’s primary school teacher of the year in 2013 for her innovative approach to teaching science that captivated the minds of not only her students but also their parents.

Now anyone in the community can immerse themselves in the subject at the Science Pub – a monthly get-together for locals in the Cummins Hotel.

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Front: George Shepherdson, Kirsty Fox, Kellie Taylor, Vince Diment and Rene McCallum. Back: Sherie Barker and Emma Addinsall.

It all started last year after Kirsty found herself talking science with friend Kellie Taylor whenever they bumped into each other in town. No idle chit chat for these two.

“We’d see each other randomly and have these five-minute super conversations about the latest thin solar panels or some other scientific breakthrough,” says Kirsty, a 38-year-old mother of three.

“I’d heard about pub mathematics in Adelaide and we thought it would be cool to have a science one in Cummins. But we wondered if we had a big enough population to generate the interest.”

They had nothing to worry about. Science Pub has a group of eight hard-core regulars and attracts up to 30 people for some events. Each month a different topic is chosen and if science specialists are in the area they are invited along as a guest speaker.

They’ve even had a Skype hook-up with a physicist in Canberra on the subject of measuring light.

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Site contamination assessments and the way that contaminants move through the environment was the topic of this Pub Science meeting

Meanwhile Kirsty continues to inspire at school. She recently won a state grant for this year’s National Science Week for creating a robotics and engineering challenge for schools in the lower Eyre Peninsula.

It all ties in with her approach for making science more engaging for students to trigger their natural curiosity.

“Sometimes kids have a mindset that they’re no good at science and that it’s just for particular types of people,” she says. “It can be tricky for them linking quite abstract scientific concepts into their everyday life.”

Kirsty was named primary school teacher of the year after developing science packs for students to take home and do experiments with their parents. She won a study tour to Canada and the UK.

Header photo Port Lincoln Times

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