Me and My Mentor: Fintona Girls’ School

Melissa Yuan is in her second year of teaching Digital IT at Fintona Girls’ School and is a passionate advocate of women working in the IT industry. She teaches and mentors year 8 student Caroline Pearce, who is a talented digital technology student. Caroline dreams of creating something, such as Facebook or Instagram, that will change the way we look at technology. With Melissa’s encouragement, Caroline will take part in an invitational coding and mentoring camp next year.

Caroline says …

 

Caroline Pearce. Photo: Kylie Thomson

Caroline Pearce. Photo: Kylie Thomson

 

I’ve been at Fintona since year 5. I have three sisters here, one older and two younger. My dad has always had lots of computers and technology. So I got really interested in that and started playing Minecraft, in which I loved building and making everything perfect. In Ms Yuan’s digital technology class, we get to choose the things we are interested in. I’m building a game using GameMaker. It’s a working title, but it’s called Zonky’s Adventures. It’s similar to Mario, in that you have to overcome obstacles to move forward in the game. I’ve designed most of the characters and I’m just about to start coding it.

I prepare my work outside of class. Ms Yuan puts things on the school intranet so I always make sure I’m across it and review it before I come to class. I’m really excited about undertaking the Australian Mathematics Trust’s DigIT program. I’ll be working with about 60 other students and get to go on camps in the school holidays. It starts in the summer of next year and goes for six months and we get to work on projects with mentors.

Ms Yuan has shown us that information technology is more than just working with a computer; it’s also about problem solving and the way you go about it. When I finish school, I would like to study IT, but I might also study corporate law. My dream when I was really young was to create something like Facebook or Instagram, so that’s what I want to do.

 

Melissa says …

 

Melissa Yuan. Photo: Kylie Thomson

Melissa Yuan. Photo: Kylie Thomson

 

I worked in the IT industry before I became a teacher. I started before the internet and before the tech bubble, so I’ve been able to work on a lot of firsts. I was an IT program manager for online and apps. There were lots of reasons I wanted to become a teacher. Both my parents and three of my grandparents were in education, so it’s in the blood. This is my second year teaching, my first at Fintona.

I really love teaching IT because there’s always something new. If you’ve done the same thing for the past five years in technology, then it’s not going to work. Next year we’ll have a new version of the GameMaker program we use in class, and the year after that we’ll have something else. I encouraged students, including Caroline, to take part in the Australian Mathematics Trust’s challenge.

Caroline sat the computational and algorithmic thinking challenge, along with 20 other girls. On the strength of her results, she’s been invited to participate in the DigIT program next year – it’s a great achievement.

Caroline is the ultimate self-starting student. We had a computational thinking challenge here at Fintona and all the years 4,5,6, 7 and 8 took part. To her credit, Caroline performed extremely well and received a distinction. In IT there are amazing career opportunities. You can travel the world, work with some of the smartest people and be creative. For students like Caroline who show interest and aptitude, the sky’s the limit.

 

Fintona Girls’ School \ 79 Balwyn Road, Balwyn ● 9380 1388 ● fintona.vic.edu.au

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