Home' Position : Position 90 Aug-Spt 2017 Contents New horizons
Going by the name ‘Mumma
Drone,’ Kerry Wallace-Massone
is a design and technology
teacher on a mission to use
drones to inspire the next
generation of engineers,
scientists and innovators. In
2017, Wallace-Massone left her
post at Sydney’s Heathcote
High School to embark on
5-week journey of discovery.
Backed by the “Premier’s
Teachers Mutual Bank New
and Emerging Technologies
Scholarship” she met with the
leading researchers of drone
technology and educators of
STEM (science, technology,
engineering and mathematics).
Wallace-Massone spoke with
Position magazine to discuss
how girls and boys approach
technology differently, and why
space will be our next big focus.
Position: You just
returned from an epic
journey. Can you tell me
what you got up to?
Kerry Wallace- Massone: I have just come
back from the United States, seeing how
girls from primary school to university are
using drones in their curriculum.
I travelled to 8 states, took 13 internal
flights, all in the space of 5 weeks. I
travelled to places like Montana to meet
with NASA scientists; to bustling cities
like Washington DC and New York; to a
research island off the coast of Georgia
you can only access by invite; and to elite
girls schools like Foxcroft where they
implement excellent STEM programs.
At Foxcroft they have found, that thanks
to the school’s STEM program, girls
are 30% more likely to go on to choose
Where does it leave me? It leaves
me wanting to expose girls to a wider
range of technologies, as well as growing
teambuilding skills and leadership skills.
I want to empower them so they have this
‘can do’ attitude towards using technology.
The trip allowed me to build international
connections and my own personal skills,
so I am now motivated to bring that
to Australia to create social change in
regards to girls and STEM careers.
The most outstanding connection I
made would have to be Princess Aliyah
Pandolfi. She runs the Kashmir not-for-
profit foundation, which champions girls’
educations using STEM technologies
and runs programs studying turtle
nesting sites in Nicaragua; combatting
poaching in South Africa; and studying
snow leopards in the Himalayas. Her
motivation is to use technology to make a
What educational initiatives
did you see in the States
that could be applied to
countries like Australia?
I visited Montana to attend the IEEE
Aerospace Conference, which also
included the Junior Engineering
Conference. Here I met NASA scientist
Dave Lavery who runs a robotic
competition from K-12 to find the future
NASA scientists. By running the robotics
programs in schools, the standout
students can be identified early. NASA
then mentor them the whole way through
and these people end up working for
NASA or a company that contracts to
NASA. That program has been going for
twenty three years now. So people who
were found that way are now working in
It’s not just Australia that has the
shortfall in STEM talent, it’s a global
shortfall. We can’t just import talent, so it’s
up to Australia to manifest its own talent.
So what can countries
like Australia do to
create this talent?
This is what’s really important for me.
If 50% of the population, the girls, are
not taking up careers in science and
technology, we are missing out on a lot
of talent. Getting the other 50% of the
population considering STEM is the
quickest way to fill the shortfall.
But boys and girls use technology
differently. The girls are collaborative
and want to use drones for a meaningful
purpose. They want to know what they
are using the technology for, whereas boys
generally want to see how far they can go
with the technology.
Since returning from the States, I
have connected with Dr Karen Joyce and
Dr Catherine Ball to mentor girls at the
inaugural SheFlies camp in Australia’s top
end. Dr Joyce empowered each of them, by
asking, “Have you ever been told you can’t
do anything because you’re a girl?” The
hands shot up and the girls shared their
numerous examples. Dr Joyce then turned
it back by saying, “There’s nothing you
can’t do because you’re a girl.” By having
positive role models in the camp, it gave
the girls the vision to achieve whatever
they set out for themselves. It was a camp
about drones, but not really. The drone
is just a tool to get girls to engage with
technology in a way that is meaningful.
Since returning I have also connected
One Giant Leap Australia who is working
in conjunction with CASA to teach drone
skills to teachers across Australia.
14 position August/September 2017
Q&A with Kerry Wallace-Massone
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