Television program encourages children to consider university as part of their future

Enquiring Minds 

On Enquiring Minds, primary school student Kurtis meets UWS student Ben Dessen

Academics and students from the University of Western Sydney feature in the new Enquiring Minds television series, which aims to ignite in primary school children a curiosity and deep passion for learning.

Enquiring Minds was developed by Television Sydney (TVS) for Bridges to Higher Education – a $21.2m Commonwealth Government initiative to improve the participation rates of students from disadvantaged communities in higher education.
Television Sydney (TVS) produced and filmed the eleven-episode series which will be broadcast from this month. Episodes can also be viewed online via a fully interactive website, complete with games for students and educational resources for teachers.
The series, which was officially launched last week at Villawood East Public School, encourages primary school students to think about where their passions and interests lie, and to consider exciting careers as real and achievable options in their futures.
Rachel Bentley, from the UWS School of Humanities and Communication Arts, is the Executive Producer of the program and CEO of TVS. She says the aim of Enquiring Minds is to encourage disadvantaged primary school children to dream big.
"Children always dream of what they want to do when they grow up, but the serious conversations around university study often don't occur until they become teenagers," says Ms Bentley.
"This TV series aims to start the conversations earlier. It helps children to understand the pathways to their future careers, and connects them with adults who pursued similar paths through study and research."

Enquiring Minds

Dr Glenn Porter with Ben and Enquiring Minds presenter Sacha

Throughout the series, 21 primary school students are matched with inspirational university students and professionals in their fields of interest.

The UWS staff and students featuring in the series include:
  • Ben Dessen, a Bachelor of Natural Science (Animal Science) student from UWS, who features in the show as a mentor for Kurtis, a primary school student with a passion for animals. Ben shows Kurtis his collection of reptiles and native animals; teaches him how to feed a python; and tells him about his time living in the jungles of Borneo where he has worked to save endangered orang-utans.
  • Dr Sandra Diamond, a Marine Biologist and lecturer in the UWS School of Science and Health, who Ben Dessen describes as a major influence in his career as an animal researcher and campaigner.
  • Dr Glenn Porter, a lecturer in the UWS School of Science and Health who formerly worked as a Forensic Photographer for the Australian Federal Police. Dr Porter gives Ben, a primary school student with aspirations to become a crime scene detective, a tour of the Crime Scene Investigation Training and Research Facility at UWS, and shows his how to collect evidence at a crime scene.
  • Dr Michael Kennedy, from the UWS School of Social Sciences and Psychology, is Head of the Bachelor of Policing degree. Dr Kennedy formerly worked as a Detective with the NSW Police – he features in an expert about becoming a Police Officer.
  • Professor Steven Freeland, from the UWS School of Law, teaches university students about international and human rights law, as well as aspects of space law. He features in an episode about the field of human rights.
  • Holly Kaye-Smith, a UWS PhD student, lecturer and film-maker, who has also worked as a freelance graphic designer. She features as a presenter in Enquiring Minds, as well as a mentor for a primary school student, Ocean, who has dreams of becoming a photographer.
Enquiring Minds premieres on Television Sydney (TVS), digital 44, at 7.30pm on Tuesday, 26 March 2013. It will repeat at 5:30pm on Wednesdays, 12:30pm on Fridays and 10:30am on Sundays.
About Bridges to Higher Education
Bridges to Higher Education is a $21.2m initiative, funded by the Commonwealth Government's Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP), to improve the participation rates of students from disadvantaged communities in higher education. Bridges is a partnership to create new aspiration- and attainment-building programs and build on existing programs targeting school-age children and their parents. This innovative project will work with primary and secondary schools and community partners in Greater Western Sydney to engage young people who previously might not have considered higher education as an option. More than 1.8 million people live in the region which has traditionally been under-represented in higher education participation rates. 

The Bridges to Higher Education project brings together the collective resources and experience of the widening participation, equity and social inclusion programs at the University of Western Sydney, The University of Sydney, the University of Technology, Sydney, Macquarie University, and the Australian Catholic University. The partnership extends to include NSW DEC, TAFE NSW, the University Admissions Centre, local government organisations, education offices, indigenous organisations and other community, philanthropic and social enterprise organisations.

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