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Amelia Giannioglou is in year 10 at Mentone Girls’ Grammar and is passionate about website coding and virtual reality.

Her Information Technology teacher and mentor Michelle Dennis shares this passion for technology and is encouraging Amelia to reach for the stars in her dreams to work in IT.

Amelia says …

Photo: Michael Rayner
Photo: Michael Rayner

My love of Information Technology was started by my mum because she works in IT so I’ve had a computer for as long as I can remember. I have this memory of my fifth or sixth birthday and I was playing solitaire (an online card game), messing around with system preferences and that’s when I got really interested.

Ever since coding has been introduced to me, I’ve been really interested in it. I want to be able to code a much better website than I have in the past. Everything we do in class is continually new and exciting. I like to give things a go. For example I found out I was pretty good at Illustrator just by playing around with it. It’s so much fun.

Every class has an IT captain, voted for by the students, and I’ve been the IT captain every year from year 6 (except for year 8). In year 6, I was also the IT captain for the school. In her work, my mum analyses and tests computer systems. Both she and Ms Dennis have taught me that women can do IT.

Having female role models at school and home is great because it’s encouraged me to go outside my comfort zone and put myself forward for NASA camp. At NASA I’ll be going to the space school and we get to go on simulators and push buttons in an actual shuttle.

We will see astronauts in training and we get a shopping list of things we need to buy (we get five million fake US dollars) to build a Mars rover and test it in water and other conditions to see if we could take it into space. We also get to pitch our ideas to engineers and astronauts and people who work at NASA for new projects so, who knows, my idea could even be picked up.

At this stage, I can see myself working as a systems and business analyst when I graduate. I also love science, so I may be able to combine my passion for science and IT in some way, as well as coding or design.

I want to do IT as a university course, which is pretty broad so whatever I like best I guess I’ll be doing that.

Outside of school I play piano and flute. I do like music; I especially like doing mash-ups on my laptop, and they’re pretty bad but it’s a lot of fun. I do karate, which is a bit different, and I’m a big artist so I feel it’s a broad mix of interests that could really take me anywhere in the future.

Michelle says …

Photo: Michael Rayner
Photo: Michael Rayner

I’ve been teaching here for 11 years. I did my studies in computer science so IT is my main teaching passion. I’m now the E-Learning manager as well so I oversee how technology is used in the whole school.

I grew up loving technology. I was probably one of the first digital natives because dad worked for a computer company and mum was a desktop publisher, so I grew up using technology. I went to a girls’ school and I didn’t realise how rare it was for girls to study computer science. So when I went to university and I realised how few girls there were, I decided to go back into education and make a difference that way. It’s really important women study computer science because technology is going to continually change the world and if they’re not part of that then they get left behind.

It saddens me to hear a girl say “I can’t do IT” because when I look at them I know that they can, I can see their capabilities. It’s about making them change their mindset of “To work in IT you must be a boy, geeky and live in a dungeon somewhere chained to a computer”.

The great thing about technology is that it keeps on changing. At the moment virtual reality is really exciting because the possibilities for what you can do with it are just amazing.

I was Amelia’s IT teacher in year 7 and we just clicked. Amelia’s really creative – she has those qualities that you need to be good at IT. You need to be a problem-solver and to think outside the box and she is definitely both.

I think Amelia has taught me how to keep being excited about advances in technology, because sometimes it can get tiring learning every new thing in IT, but when I teach Amelia and others like her, I get excited by their enthusiasm and leave the classes with more energy than when I started!

What I’d love to see in terms of technology is more girls embracing the possibilities. Amelia and I have talked about her future. She’s doing things like NASA camp but the way that technology excites her it should be something she should consider.

I love getting outdoors and hiking. I like being cut off from technology for a little while, too! I went to Everest base camp two years ago. There is no cell phone coverage. It was a really invigorating and energising experience.

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