Episode 6: Geoff McNamara AM — A story of passion


– There have been some
absolutely magical scenes up at Mt. Stromlo, where the valleys are
still filled with mist, but you can see the
mountains poking through them at sunrise, and it’s all part of Canberra. I’m a teacher in the ACT
education directorate, and specialising in
science and engineering, and at the moment I’m running a program called Science Mentors ACT, which is designed for
higher-achieving students. So these are kids in year 9 to 12, who produce rather extended reports, anything up to 8000 words
on their own research. When I was a kid, I fell
in love with science. I dabbled in all the different sciences; chemistry, biology, and so on. But it was astronomy that
grabbed my imagination. I remember going up to the
74-inch dome up at Mt. Stromlo and looking through the
window at the telescope, and I remember thinking it was the most beautiful
thing I’d ever seen. Here we are 50 years later, and I’ve built a teaching observatory literally down the road. And so, sometimes things come full circle. I think that’s nice. One of the advantages
of coming to Canberra is being supported by
the Canberra community. It is, in our opinion, the
best city in Australia. It is just a wonderful place to live. Fortunately, Canberra has also
been very, very good to us. I didn’t know that I was going to be able to build this program
for Canberra at the time, but it’s possible largely because we have such wonderful science and educational institutions. The whole environment
is much more flexible than it is elsewhere in Australia. For a relatively small
investment of time, of money, of equipment, we can inspire kids who are going to turn into
the scientists and engineers who will truly make a difference. It is possible to undertake programs that are perhaps a little bit different, and given that freedom,
and given that support, we’ve been able to do some remarkable things with the kids.

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