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Meet Alexandra—Teenage Science Olympian

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Representing Australia at the International Earth Science Olympiads, Alexandra Vickery hopes to inspire more women to study STEM.

Growing up, lifelong Canberran Alexandra Vickery fondly remembers trips to Questacon where she would spend hours exploring the exhibits.

Now in Year 12 at Narrabundah College, Alexandra is about to represent Australia at the International Earth Science Olympiad—one of the four disciplines that make up the International Science Olympiads.

Known as the ‘Olympic Games of Science’, students compete against other international teams for gold, silver and bronze medals. She one of two students selected from the Canberra region—but this incredible achievement didn’t come easily.

“I got invited to take part in the Australian Science Olympiads last year but the bushfires and coronavirus disrupted the process,” says Alexandra.

“Luckily, I was able to sit the exam the following year and did well enough to be invited to the Summer School again. It’s been a bit of a process, but a rewarding one for sure!”

Alexandra has studied for twelve months, undergone rigorous exams and practical tests as a part of the Australian Science Olympiads, and is one of eight to be selected for the Earth and Environmental Science Team.

This broad subject covers geology, meteorology, astronomy and environmental science—something that Alexandra has always been interested in.

“I’m involved in the Science Mentors ACT program, which provides access to the astronomical telescope up at Mt. Stromlo, and I’ve also maintained a rock collection for many years. I absolutely love Antarctica and obviously, I have an interest in climate science. All these interests are combined with Earth Science. I definitely want to study science at University.”

As one of four young women in the eight-person International Earth Science Team, Alexandra thinks that it’s only a matter of time there are more women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) fields.

“I know heaps of women my age who are really interested in pursuing STEM in the future, so I hope the disparity is actually a delay than women not studying STEM.”

“However, there is definitely still a culture of masculinity around certain STEM fields. The best way to open them up is to highlight stories of women in the fields and to normalise the participation of women in STEM.”

“I’d hope that young women who were interested in the Earth Sciences—whether they want to tackle climate change, or they’re interested in astronomy or geology—that they consider sitting the Australian Science Olympiads Exams. I didn’t have any classes that focused exclusively on Earth Science either, it was just a mixture of my interests that came together.”

Alexandra will compete at the International Earth Science Olympiads, which will be hosted by Russia, from 25-30 August 2021—we wish her all the best!

Registrations for the 2021 Australian Science Olympiad Exams are now open. Visit asi.edu.au for more information.

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