Hands-on teaching: one rock at a time

SUZY URBANIAK, BSc Geol (Hons) ’87, is passionate about taking her students out of the classroom and is surprised how little teaching styles have changed over the years.

I had an absolutely amazing time at ANU. The size of the Geology Department was a huge bonus – it was not too big – so we all were able to get to know each other really well. We worked collaboratively and supported each other, it was a wonderful experience.

I loved the campus. I loved the fact you could go to the mountains in winter and the beach in summer, it’s an ideal location.

I studied geology because I knew in primary school I wanted to be a geologist. I always had a love of rocks – to me, every rock tells a story – but more than that, I had a great curiosity about how the Earth worked.

I worked as a geologist for about 10 years and then moved to teaching, which combines both my passions – science and education.

In Western Australia there has been a shortage of home-grown talent in engineering and science but we need these skilled people as the minerals and energy industry expands. However, there was no awareness in the school system of this shortage. In secondary schools, earth sciences was either taken for granted or not even taught.

It was quite contradictory that this wasn’t acknowledged, considering Western Australia is one of the resource hot spots of the world.

I come from Melbourne and I had a teacher who liked and taught earth sciences, so I was very fortunate to go to a school that actually did that.