Meet our HSC Chemistry Mentor: Helena
There are not many disciplines where you can set things on fire for ‘scientific purposes’ or learn how to create entirely new substances by simply mixing two things together.
Meet our Talent 100 Chemistry Mentor, Helena!
Fort Street High School
Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Secondary Education (Science) at the University of Sydney.
Premier’s All Rounders Award
6th in the State: Visual Arts
Subjects taught at Talent:
What’s your favourite part about teaching Chemistry?
I enjoy teaching Chemistry because it promotes critical thinking and helps students analyse and communicate information in a clear and logical manner.
Not only are these skills important in the classroom, they are necessary for navigating the ‘real-world’ where contradicting and/or fake news have become widespread.
Chemistry also happens to be a super cool subject (you can’t tell me otherwise)! There are not many disciplines where you can set things on fire for ‘scientific purposes’ or learn how to create entirely new substances by simply mixing two things together.
My favourite topics to teach include those which have direct-links to everyday life, such as esterification (creating sweet-scented fragrances from alcohols and acids) and alternative fuels (for a greener and more sustainable future), because they show the profound impact Chemistry can have on wider society. The more I teach about these topics, the more that I am personally inspired to pursue a career in Chemistry academia.
Of course, my favourite part has to be teaching my students. I enjoy working with my students and ensuring they have the help and support they need for their final year. Teaching is certainly a rewarding experience and something which I look forward to every week.
Can you share some tips for students sitting the HSC Chemistry paper?
For students who are sitting their Chemistry Trials or the HSC Chemistry exam, I recommend the following steps:
Read through your notes
Ideally, you have notes written in sequential order according to the syllabus dot-points. I suggest you begin by reading through these notes (perhaps you can study one or two topics per day) and if there is a difficult concept you have a hard time understanding, it would be a good idea to handwrite an explanation of the concept in your own words.
Do practice questions
This is VERY important. I would say it is just as, if not more important that reading your notes, so do as much as you can. When you do these practice questions, there are a few things you should consider:
– Any key vocabulary related to the concept?
– Clear and concise structure?
– How detailed is your response?
– Does it meet the marking criteria?
Many students have a good understanding of the concept but often unsuccessfully miss out on marks because they do not know how to answer exam-style questions. This is why students need to exercise communication of their ideas by doing practice questions.
I suggest you look at Talent 100 questions and sample answers (as well as those from trial papers or reputable textbooks) and compare them to your own response. If you don’t have time to do practice questions, then at least read through questions and their sample answers.
Do practice exams
Again, this is very important because you need to understand the structure of the exam. I recommend you do a few open-book and then a few (minimum 2) closed-book and timed. You may do these closer to the date of the actual exam.
Where do you see yourself after Talent and University?
After Talent 100 and University, I expect to be a full-time high school Science teacher.
I have loved teaching so far and hope my future career will mirror the experiences I currently have in Talent 100. While education is one of my passions, I also see myself pursuing an academic career related to Chemistry and Biology in a later future.
I am particularly interested in a part-time career as a fine artist and/or graffiti artist.
What’s something people might now know about you?
I’m currently working on several visual art projects and a website. My mediums of choice include gouache, watercolour, and ink!
Click here to view our Talent 100 online timetables for Term 4, and enrol in one of Helena’s Chemistry classes in Chatswood or online.