Dr Foley visits ANU Solar Racing
Australia’s Chief Scientist Dr Cathy Foley knows about the importance of strong role models. As a child, being Australia’s Chief Scientist was something she could never have imagined, but she was lucky enough to have a teacher at school who encouraged her to enter science competitions, and a lecturer at university who encouraged her to do a PhD.
As Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Foley sees herself as a role model for all young people who might not realise that they can aspire to a career in science.
That’s why when eight year old Evelyn Fox wrote to Dr Foley earlier this year with plans and drawings for her own conceptual solar car, Dr Foley knew that Evelyn’s ideas should be nurtured.
Evelyn also mentioned her big science ambitions in that letter, with aspirations of becoming a future Chief Scientist.
Dr Foley was so impressed by her plans and determination that she decided to accompany Evelyn on a visit to the Australian National University Solar Racing Team Workshop last week. It proved to be a fruitful exercise, with Evelyn learning more about solar cars and receiving some sage advice from Dr Foley about a career in science.
“Take the plunge! It might not be obvious to you where you will end up, but I can almost guarantee it will be somewhere exciting,” Dr Foley said. Dr Foley is focused on the need to encourage more young people into STEM careers, as Australia looks to science, research and innovation to solve global challenges, including climate change.
Dr Foley acknowledged that it can be really difficult to imagine a science career, with many young people struggling to envisage the specific jobs that they might do as a scientist or engineer. One of the solutions is to improve visibility of science careers so that they can see themselves in a job that makes sense to them if they study physics or chemistry, just as they can with, say, medicine or law.
“That whole idea of encouraging girls and all young Australians to think about what they can do in science and tech that can really make a difference. It has all this stuff around it too. We need the lawyers, the social scientists and the design of the human interface, so that our young people get the idea that impact isn’t just about scientists. If we can get that across, we’re going to see a different cohort coming through, which is so exciting,” said Dr Foley.
The visit ended with Evelyn and Dr Foley receiving a signed solar panel from the ANU Solar Racing Team. This might just provide the “power” to ignite Evelyn’s dreams.
The visit was covered by The Canberra Times