Science Students Celebrate UniSTEMDAY2023

“Getting to the Heart of it: Using Stem Cells to Understand Heart Health and Disease”

Year 10 Biology and Year 9 SEAL students celebrated UniSTEMDA2023 at the Gene Technology Access Centre (GTAC) supported by reNEW Melbourne. UniStem Day is a one-day meeting organised globally for high school students since 2009. This event is solely dedicated to the dissemination and outreach of stem cell science and research. Professor Megan Munsie from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) introduced the students to the Novo Nordisk Foundation Centre for Stem Cell Medicine (reNEW), highlighting Nobel prize for medicine recipients, John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka (2012). The award was given for their brilliant work showing that mature cells can be reprogrammed into pluripotent stem cells. These cells can develop into any other cell in the body, without the need to destroy human embryos. Wow!


  • Disease causing genes – using Genome informatics to analyse DNA sequence information of defective heart genes.
  • Using 3-D printers to produce heart patches & heart valves from pluripotent stem cells
  • Cardiac Organoids – A 3-dimensional, mini-organ-like structure made by growing heart stem cells in the laboratory.
  • Consent in Research

Student Reflection

“The GTAC biology excursion allowed us to have an in person experience with professional researchers. They showed us their interesting new heart valves made with stem cells, and explained their process of developing the life-saving graft. I loved talking with the researchers about their journey to how they got to where they are, and the day-to-day life of working in a lab. GTAC allowed me to consider my future options and revealed new future pathways in Biology.” – Ethan Shaw (Yr 10)


Sincere thank you to our Science Coordinator, Ms Angela Hanley for organising this fantastic experience for St Albans Secondary students; to GTAC for their invitation to participate in UniSTEMDAY2023 and to Science Teachers, Ms Marion Mortimer and Gloria Vlasonjic who attended the excursion.



Ms Marion Mortimer – Science Teacher

Year 7 Zoo

On Tuesday 2 May, Year 7 students attended the Melbourne Zoological Gardens to “meet the animals” and to learn about animal adaptations and classification for their Year 7 Science investigation. Zoo Educators shared skull specimens and biological artefacts and challenged students to consider behavioural adaptations that ensure species’ survival. Students attended Zoo Keeper Talks and enjoyed the freedom to roam the zoo with their friends. It was a “great day out”!

  • Thank you to Science Coordinator, Angela Hanley for organising the excursion.
  • To Science Teacher, Ms Di Phyland for her expert organisation and leadership on the day.
  • To the Office staff and Assistant Principal, Tracey D’Elton and Junior School Coordinators for encouraging students to attend.
  • To all the teachers who attended the excursion – well done.


7A Zoo Reflections

“The zoo was fun and exciting and I thoroughly enjoyed it. My favourite part was definitely the aquarium. I liked the fact we had free rein and could do whatever we wanted to do. The zoo lesson was cool and informative. I loved it.”  – Ava Bird

“The aquarium was great – the atmosphere was very refreshing and seeing the Pinnipedia was fascinating because of the way they swam, fed and interacted with each other.” Quynh Nguyen

“The elephants were really cool, especially their new calves. The snow leopard was my favourite and they display an interesting adaptation of smelling each other before mating. They also have small skulls because they run very fast.”  – Andy Huynh-Tai

“I had learnt many new things on the zoo excursion. The koala, snow leopard, lion and meerkat talks Zoo Keeper Talks were quite fascinating. I learnt at least one new fact about each animal: koalas are very territorial and have evolved to eat 40 types of eucalyptus leaves; snow leopards communicate with smell; the lionesses usually do the hunting and meerkat female matriarchs rule with an iron fist.”  Lina Dhingra

“I never knew the reason why meerkats always stand and look up in the sky but after hearing the meerkats talk, the reason why they do that is to keep watch on the birds of prey. The zoo excursion was fun and educational, but I wished there was more time to see the animals.”  – Yenvy Le

“I had a lot of fun exploring the zoo and the animals were so cute. I enjoyed the Orang-utans Keeper’s Talk the most. I learnt that orang-utans share 97% of our DNA and they’re very intelligent.”  Gia-Han Truong

“My experience at the zoo was amazing. I really loved the zoo lesson learning about adaptations and animal skeletons. I also enjoyed learning about how koalas feed their young.”  – Khola Fatima

“It was one of the best days I’ve ever had at the Zoo.” Thank you, Science Teachers.” – Dat MA


Ms Marion Mortimer – Science Teacher