Peter Reeve continues to host STEM workshops for Indigenous students whilst studying Astrophysics at university.
He uses the strategies that encouraged him to pursue STEM to engage students in the field and so we spoke with him to find out more about how he does this.
This career profile is best suited to Secondary School students who have an interest in Physics and Space and would like to learn about people who work and study in this field.
Word Count: 540
Why This Matters: Students need to see more people like them working in STEM and sharing their passion.
STEM communicator Peter Reeve’s love for physics started young. However, throughout his studies and now in his work running STEM workshops, he has found that sometimes the best way to teach STEM is to get kids outside of the classroom.
His work with ATSIMA and NSW AECG, as well as The South Australian Department of Education, aims to get students making connections between the things they see every day, and the concepts that are being taught at school. Through his work with hands-on demonstrations, he also brings Indigenous science into STEM concepts, teaching kids about the role of optics in spearfishing, for example.
What do you do?
My job is to run and create workshops that explain science concepts to kids at STEM camps. The workshops are hands-on demonstrations for students to play around with, while also linking back to Indigenous science. For example, I’ve done workshops on optics and spearfishing, and boomerangs and drones.
I’ve been doing it for four years.
What does a normal day at work look like for you?
The majority of my time is spent making sure the demonstrations and experiments work the way they should. That usually involves me mucking around with magnets, electricity, lights and other equipment until I come up with a workshop that students will enjoy!
What do you need to study to do your job, or what was your pathway into it?
I’m currently studying physics. That led me to mentor at my old high school. From there, the education department emailed me and asked if I wanted to work on the South Australian Aboriginal STEM Congress they were creating.
Through that, I’ve met some awesome people (Dr Chris Matthews being one of them) who asked me to then do workshops in NSW. Since then, I’ve been working on both.
How do you use what you learnt in school in your work?
One thing that really stood out for me during school was the teaching style. A lot of teachers were just reading it out of the textbook which made the lessons seem boring. However, I had some teachers who had a really fun way of teaching their subject – especially my high school chemistry and physics teachers.
That made me more interested in the subject matter so that inspired me to take the fun approach to teach STEM concepts.
What’s been an eye-opening thing you’ve learnt in your career?
Never take your eyes off a boomerang when teaching about aerodynamics. Never.
During a workshop I helped on, a teacher who was learning about aerodynamics with his class took his eyes off the boomerang for a second, and it whacked him in the back of the head!
What do you think careers in this field might look like in 10 years’ time?
I think the work will be the same, but I’m hoping more people will take it up. Sometimes the best way of learning (complex) science is to do it outside the classroom in a fun and relaxed environment.
What excites you about what you do?
One of my favourite things is seeing the looks on kids’ faces when they make connections between the everyday stuff they see and physics on the board – it’s the best part of the job!
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