About brittgow

I am a Science and Maths teacher at a small rural school in western Victoria, Australia. I live on a sheep property with my husband and two children, who also attend Hawkesdale P12 College. I am passionate about education for sustainability, indigenous flora and fauna and love teaching!

Profile of past student, Emily Huglin.


Emily is the eldest of three children of Frank and Anne-Maree Huglin. She started at Hawkesdale P12 College in Prep in 1999 and graduated from Year 12 in 2011. Emily recalls some memories from her time at school:

  • Sitting in the rotunda, having crazy conversations with friends at lunchtime that had you laughing so hard you were crying
  • Going on camps every year (I discovered at uni that this wasn’t the case for most schools)
  • Mitchell winning swimming and athletics every year! Go Mitchell!
  • Getting the opportunity to travel on a plane for the first time and travel overseas
  • Performing in Snowdrop (the play)…. as the Prince!
  • The competitive games of 4-square at recess and lunch
  • Making friends that will last a lifetime

Emily chose English, Maths Methods, Further Maths, Studio Arts, Chemistry and Biology in her VCE years, both for enjoyment but also because some were requirements for the area I wanted to further study at university. She undertook Further Maths in Year 11 as an extra unit 3/4 subject. This ensured she would have an extra subject for her ATAR whilst also providing a good opportunity to experience a Year 12 subject and the amount of work required to be successful in obtaining a high result. This gave her experience in undertaking VCE exams in the exam hall and under strict conditions. She found it valuable in giving her an indication in how much time, effort and work was needed to do well in individual subjects and in year 12 overall. Emily also chose a subject for enjoyment:

“Studio Arts was more or less an outlet for me during a very full-on, studious VCE period. I was able to explore a more creative side and it allowed me to focus on achieving an end-product during the year; with less focus on the end of year exam. It was however my most stressful, tedious and time-consuming subject. I spent lots of hours during the year trialing different techniques, researching, creating my final pieces of artwork and putting together a folio that I was happy with. It was hard work but it was also my favourite subject – one that I was happy to put lots of my time into. If you enjoy being creative or want a relief from your typical maths and science subjects then I definitely suggest looking at an art subject – just be prepared to work as hard as, or harder, than your other subjects; it certainly isn’t a bludge subject.”

Though I wasn’t the biggest fan of science during my earlier schooling years, I did enjoy being exposed to Biology and Chemistry in my Year 10 Science classes. This led me to choose both Chemistry and Biology for VCE, of which I enjoyed both classes. They were also a part of the requirements to get into a science degree at university; of which I continued to study both subjects throughout my university degree.”

“Maths Methods was also another requirement of many university degrees, including science and animal-based degrees. Methods was certainly harder than Further Maths but generally had a greater adjusted study score – balancing them out much more. I also enjoyed maths during my schooling.”

“English is a compulsory subject, however it was also a nice change from the maths and science subjects I did. It is certainly an important subject and one that you should want to do well in. Even though the specific content and textbooks may not be applicable to many fields or degrees, the basis of the subject and the ability to write essays definitely comes in handy at university – no matter your course.”

After finishing school, Emily moved to Melbourne to study a Bachelor of Science at The University of Melbourne, Parkville campus. She majored in Animal Science and Management and graduated in 2014. She spent two years living on campus at St Hilda’s College, in Parkville, and for the final year of her degree lived in a house in Brunswick. She says both experiences were incredible – “Living on campus is a great way to meet new people, make good friends and enjoy a less-stressful first year at university whilst moving into a house provided me with more independence and freedom.”

Emily is currently employed as an Animal Health Officer (AHO) with DEDJTR (Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources) in the Animal Health and Welfare Branch. She is based in the South-West region, working from the Hamilton office. She started the job in April 2015, after completing her Bachelor’s degree at the end of 2014. There are four key components to her role as an AHO. Firstly, there is animal disease surveillance and response. She works alongside vets and AHOs to prove disease freedom and responds to any disease outbreaks or suspect cases.

She also has an emergency preparedness and response role, attending fires and conducting stock assessments, inspecting stock for burns and other associated injuries. The third key role is animal welfare. She responds to animal welfare complaints about livestock and aims to ensure farmers and those in the industry adhere to the animal welfare standards and legislation.

The final component refers to regulation and compliance. She spends time at saleyards, ensuring tagging and other compliance standards are being met.

Her job is extremely variable, with plenty of travelling, but she loves not knowing what she is going to do at work each day. Every situation is different and a growing part of the job is extension and education. Spending time at the saleyards or on-farm with farmers, agent and people alike is a great part of the job.

Emily’s advice to current students is to take every opportunity that comes your way, and give things a go.

“As a student at Hawkesdale College I was always encouraged to participate in sporting activities, go to conferences, enter public speaking contests, choir groups, go on school trips interstate and overseas or be a part of the SRC and school-run events. Being a small school, the attitude was generally to have anyone and everyone join in where possible and participate, or at least express interest in participating.”

“This attitude is something that I developed at school and have continued to live by. Throughout college and university, I put my hand up for a number of different sporting teams and activities, participated in the college musical, attended social functions, took advantage of the tutor and study groups available and took on both a mentor and mentee role with a leadership group.

It is these extra things that make life what it is, and you never know how an experience or opportunity may evolve further. I got to experience life on stage during the musical, received career and university advice during my mentoring and study/tutor groups, was a part of the college premiership netball team, travelled overseas numerous times and made many new life-long friends in the process.”

“I was lucky enough that Hawkesdale College were able to provide me with so many different opportunities as a student – this often isn’t the case at many other schools with larger student numbers. I also know that these opportunities dry up as time goes on, so take them while you can! It may be that one thing you do or sign up for that makes a difference in you getting a job, meeting your best friend or discovering something that you love.”

“Don’t get caught up about knowing or not knowing what you want to do after school. The next few years should be about exploring your options, experiencing life and any opportunities that might come your way and discovering who you are and who you want to be. I thought I knew exactly what I wanted after school – go to Melbourne, study my science degree, then do the post-graduate Veterinary course and become a vet. In the end I finished my science degree, declined a veterinary science offer and decided to have a year off working in any field, save money and possibly go travelling. By pure chance I saw the Animal Health Officer role advertised, so applied and was lucky enough to get the job. Now I’m working in a field that I enjoyed studying at university, but had never thought twice about before.”

“Ultimately, don’t back yourself into a corner. Explore all that is offered and keep an open-mind – you never know where you can end up and what you might actually enjoy. Also, Year 12 comes and Year 12 goes – once I was at uni, no one cared about scores and ATARs. Aim for your best. Aim for a score to get you where you want to be but remember that in a few years it won’t matter anyway. You can always take another path if you don’t get what you want or need! It’s certainly not the end of the world! The other bit of advice I have is that don’t feel pressured to go to university or undertake further study. You don’t need a university degree to be successful!”

“If you know what you want, go for it. If you don’t know, develop a plan that will help you discover what it is that you want. You’ve got a lifetime to work, so take your time to find the right life for you.”

Thanks Emily for sharing your experiences and advice for students and we wish you continued success in your field. If any past students of Hawkesdale College are interested in contributing to this project, please contact Britt Gow at school or by email: brittgow(at)gmail.com

“Body at War” at Federation University, Ballarat


On Friday 17th April, four VCE Biology students attended the “Your Body at War” program, facilitated by the Gene Technology Access Centre at Federation University. Kiri, Leah, Che and Stephanie travelled to Ballarat to participate in the program, which celebrates the “Day of Immunology”.

Together with about 100 students from three other schools, they had the opportunity to hear from Associate Professor Robyn Slattery (Monash University) about the history of vaccination, current research in immunology and exciting new discoveries about immunotherapy in cancer treatment.

They then donned lab-coats and entered the science laboratories at Federation University, where they learned how to use specialist equipment and techniques, such as the Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA). They also had the opportunity to discuss career perspectives in science with staff and Dr Misty Jenkins from the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

One of the sponsors of this event is the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research. Later this year we have three Year 11 students who have been very fortunate to obtain a work experience placement at WEHI in Melbourne. This is an exciting opportunity for them to find about authentic medical research, working with expert scientists in a world-leading facility.

Also in science news, students in Year 10 have the opportunity to attend the Science Experience Ballarat, at Federation University from 29th June to 1st July. This three day, hands-on program is a great introduction to the diverse world of science and it’s connection to a range of interesting careers. Please apply online prior to 8th June. Speak to Mrs Gow for further information.

2015 Investiture Ceremony

Mr Bob Handby (left) with Senior College Captains.

Last Wednesday we conducted the school investiture ceremony to recognise our school leaders. Mr Bob Handby, Victorian State Finalist Senior Australian of the Year in 2011, with 25 years in the Red Cross, gave us an insight into what it means to be a good leader, with examples from his experiences in disaster zones across the world.

Senior College Captains: Nick Hausler and Leah Drendel

Senior Vice Captains: James Gow and Stephanie Tanner

Junior College Captains: Charlie Edney and Destiny Kelly

Spring House Captains: Aaron Seabrook and Chris Gurney (Vice) Shiloh Capuano and Leah Drendel (Vice) Emily Gordon and Fletcher Cozens (Juniors)

Mitchell House Captains: Lachlan Tanner and James Gow (Vice) Carly Watson and Che Johnson (Vice) Angela Sanders and Alexandra Lewis (Juniors)

Bus Captains: (Broadwater) James Cassidy, Jobe Hollard, Carly Watson (Koroit) Tamiko Walter-Stones, Kiri Barber, Tayla Love (Macarthur) Aaron Dyson, Leah Drendel, Sarah Herring, Stephanie Tanner (Minjah) Kaylee Beard, Sam Bruce, Shilo Capuano (Penshurst) Rubylee Fuss, Daniel Rentsch, Matthew Rentsch

Student Leadership Group: (Year 6) Charlie Edney, Destiny Kelly, Ashleigh Mansell, Zahli Adams (Year 7) Kiara Esh, Milla Fuss, Emersen Fuss (Year 8) Kailyn Edney, Dharma Bailey (Year 9) Sophie Hines, Harrison Cozens, Hayley Keane (Year 10) Sarah Cassidy, Nikki Milgate, Peter Amess (Year 11) Jobe Hollard, Elektra Scholtz-Talbot, Sam Bruce and Tayla Love.

Beacon Foundation: Nikki Milgate, Toby Bruce, Isaac Walker, Sarah Cassidy, Kirsty Hausler, Alannah Gow, Matthew Rentsch.



Free Polycom Seminar – “The Plastic Brain”

As part of Education Week next week, we have the opportunity to link up with a special seminar to be held at the Gene Technology Access Centre in Melbourne. Associate Professor  Chris Reid from The Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health will be presenting “The Plastic Brain” on Wednesday 21st May 2014, 6:30 pm. You can participate at school using our Polycom video-conferencing equipment. Dinner will be provided,  if there are enough people interested.

The brain is remarkable. Just how do we remember the colour of our first car, what we had for lunch yesterday or who our Prime Minister is? We don’t have all the answers but we have come a long way. In this lecture I will take you on a journey about how we think brain cells work. We will discuss how brain cells change when we learn, what we can do to learn better and what might be going wrong in disease. I’ll finish with exciting new ways we are looking into brain function that will tell us more about how this fascinating organ works.

 This talk is a special event during education week, and teachers and students (as well as the community) are especially encouraged to come along.  Chris Read is head of the synaptic plasticity lab at the Florey. Plasticity is the capacity of the brain to change with learning. Can an adult retrain their brain after injury? Can we train our brains to improve our performance? What are the implications for medical research?

I hope you will consider this opportunity to listen to an expert in neuroscience and learn more about this fascinating organ that defines our personality, drives our body and determines our very survival. Please contact Britt Gow by email at brittgow(at)gmail.com or by phoning the school.

OzTrees 4 GYS Registration Form

OzTrees4GYS_logo copy

This form is for delegates from the 2014 “Actions For Earth Global Youth Summit” to enter their details to enable students from Hawkesdale P12 College to plant a tree on your behalf and then contact you with further details about the location and photographs of the trees planted.

Hawkesdale’s Presentations at the Global Youth Summit

YouTube link to the one minute “OzTrees 4 GYS” presentation or view below:-

YouTube link to the three minute “OzTrees 4 GYS” presentation.

The video clips above were filmed on Saturday 18th January at the Singapore Science Centre, as part of the Actions for Earth Global Youth Summit. All the students had specific roles from collecting contact names and addresses for each of the attending schools, photography and script-writing to slideshow creation, creating our logo and giving feedback to our speakers.

Day 7: Universal Studios and Flight Home.

Girls at Universal Studios on Sentosa Island

Girls at Universal Studios on Sentosa Island

After a very active night, Day Seven started with a well earned sleep in, we packed our bags and organized our rooms. After we were all organized we proceeded to the MRT where surprisingly enough none of our tickets caused us hassle. We proceeded to the mono-rail which would take us to Sentosa, the glamorous island that was home to Universal Studios. We all split up into groups and briskly walked to the first ride we saw. There were many rides, one of the best was the “Revenge of the Mummy”. It was an indoor roller coaster that reached high speeds and dramatic twisting and turning. Universal studios has many different sections with different themes which makes it interesting. Once everyone had finished having fun on the exhilarating rides we went through the shops and and got many souvenirs and gifts for not only ourselves but family and friends as well. We left Universal Studios at 4:00pm so that we could arrive at City Beach Resort at 5:00pm. Arriving at the hotel at 5:00pm gave us plenty of time to have a shower and get changed. We left the hotel that we had been staying in for the past week, just a bit before 6:00pm. When we arrived at Changi airport we spent some time looking around and having dinner. At 7:30 we checked in our luggage. For the next few hours we wandered around the airport, amazed at the shopping and scale of the public places.

Day 6: Project Proposals, Awards Ceremony and Conference Closing.

Working on the OzTrees 4 GYS logo

We woke up nice and early, ready for a huge last day of the 2014 Global Youth Conference. When we arrived at the Singapore Science Centre, where the conference was held, we listened to Peter Browne talk about public speaking and the best and most effective way to present our pitches. After the presentation we got into our country groups and practiced our one minute pitch and then presented to all of the delegates. The top six school groups in both the Junior and Senior categories then presented their three-minute pitches to the judges abouth their ideas which will help the environment.

We wanted to plant a tree on Australian soil for every delegate who attended the 2014 Global Youth Summit. Our project, “OzTrees 4 GYS” is to plant a tree to represent each student from the 12 different countries who attended the inaugural Global Youth Summit. There was a junior and senior category, with the audience selecting their favourite ideas with 6 senior and 6 junior teams making it to the finals. We were in the senior category and we made it to the finals. This meant we were required to complete a three minute pitch to extend upon our ideas in order to win over the judges. We were lucky enough to receive 3rd place which is 6 medals, a trophy and 500 Singapore dollars in order to implement our proposed project.

Britt Gow and Melody from the Cambodian Kampong Project

As a group we decided we were well off compared to many of the other schools attending and we already had enough money from sponsors to implement our project, so we decided to donate our prize money to the Cambodian Kampong Project. After we did this we were told that the money we donated was 1.5 million dollars in Cambodia which is enough to build them a brick home.


Indonesian Schools Cultural Performance

The conference ended with performances from most of the attending countries and K-pop dance group (push music). For our performance we acted out famous landmarks in Australia with “We Come From a Land Down Under” playing in the background. It was great to see everyone having fun, with a great end to the conference.

Day 5: Conference excursions and Community Outreach

The world's only man-made off-shore landfill.

We woke up and had our breakfast at the hotel as usual then we got on the buses in our designated groups to head straight from the hotel to our first activities. Depending on what groups each of us were in we visited the Semakau Landfill, an Incineration Plant, Marina Barrage and/or the New Water Desalination Plant.

Semakau landfill

We jumped on the bus for a half an hour bus ride before swapping to a boat for another forty minutes. We when arrived at the landfill we split into groups with one group going straight on the bus to tour around the landfill while the other group went into a room to watch a presentation on how the landfill works. Then the groups swapped over. The Semakau Landfill is located about 8 kilometers south of Singapore, situated amongst the southern islands. Two of these small, shallow islands have been joined together by a membrane providing two halves to the whole system. The incineration plants provide the landfill with rubbish that has been turned into ash and placed in the cells in the first part of the system. The waste from the incineration plant is transported by a barge to the island and then loaded onto tip trucks which fill the cells. As each cell is required, the seawater is pumped out and the cell is filled with incinerated rubbish and compacted.

Tuas South Incineration Plant - turning waste into power

Tuas South Incineration Plant – turning waste into power

Tuas South Incineration Plant
The Tuas South Incineration Plant is a “Waste to Power” Plant, which means that the waste from domestic and municipal sources is transported to the Plant and used as fuel for boiler that is used to create steam and turn a turbine to produce electrical power. The electricity produced is seven times the amount actually used in the plant, while the rest of the power is fed back into the grid. The incineration plant is a very modern and technological solution to waste disposal, using close circuit video cameras to monitor the waste arriving in trucks and lots of automated systems. However, the waste is not separated, so plastics, paper, metal and biodegradable waste are all dumped into the incineration and burnt at temperatures up to 850 degrees Celsius. This ensures that the waste is sterilized to remove any diseases.

Marina Barrage

New Water Desalination Plant

Community Outreach Program at Clementine Apartments


Day 4: Guest Speakers, Community Outreach and Excursions.

Today the students in group B of the conference had to wake up at six o’clock for breakfast and the students in group A had a little more time to sleep in. The group B students went to the science centre in the morning to listen to speeches about Water for life, waste management & Asia waste watch practices, whilst group A students went on a field trip to either Marina Barrage/NEWater Plant, Semakau Landfill or the Incineration Plant and vise versa in the afternoon, followed by team discussions about the environmental problems in our local areas and then a door knocking activity to sign people up for a competition of who can save the most electricity by turning off certain household items when not in use.

The speaker Mr Terence Kam, the secretary of the T-Net Club at the Taman Jurong Management Committee and recipient of the PUB Watermark Award in 2012, spoke about “Water for Life”. He showed us a lot of pictures of dirty Singapore streets and rivers in the past and told us about how far this city has progressed and how Singapore manages its water sources.

Mr Paul Tan Hang Meng, the Chief Engineer of the Private Waste Facilities at the National Environmental Agency, shared with us his knowledge of “Waste Management” in Singapore and how their recycling system works.

Dr. Mitsuko Watanabe, founder of the Kamakura Citizens Forum, talked about how waste is managed in Asia and her experiences in shaping Japan’s environmental protection policies.