April 25, 2019

High School Cancer Masterclasses

The High School Cancer Masterclasses (HSCM) is an educational outreach program bringing high-quality cancer teaching to Australian high school students. The program is free-of-charge, supported by the YACI’s partners.

Our program is designed for Year 10 students, but all interested Year 9 – 12 students are welcome. The program consolidates and extends beyond the usual Year 10 science curriculum to help students develop a foundational understanding of cancer.

There are 8 masterclasses in the program, which runs over 8 – 10 weeks in Term 3. Each masterclass runs for 60 minutes and covers a specific area of study from the YACI’s Cancer Syllabus. The Syllabus has been developed with help from leading University of Melbourne academics and mentors.

Experienced, high-achieving university student tutors are selected and trained by the YACI to deliver each Masterclass. Tutors are also expected to provide mentorship to participating students about future careers in research or the health sciences. Two medical doctors at St Vincent’s Hospital are co-directing the 2022 program: Dr Vandita Mattoo and Dr Jordan Santucci.

2022 Masterclass Program

The 2022 Masterclasses will aim to commence the week of July 11 2022 (term 3) and will be delivered primarily through online platforms such as Zoom and Google Classrooms. Some schools may have the ability to receive in-person classes on school campus pending tutor availability.

The 8 components of the 2022 Masterclasses program are: 
·      Masterclass 1 – Basics of cell biology and cell cycle
·      Masterclass 2 – The Immune System
·      Masterclass 3 – Genetic Basis of Cancer
·      Masterclass 4 – Causes of Cancer
·      Masterclass 5 – Cancer Screening and Prevention Part 1
·      Masterclass 6 – Cancer Screening and Prevention Part 2
·      Masterclass 7 – Cancer Treatments
·      Masterclass 8 – Cancer Treatments  – Case Studies

The exact time and date of each tutorial will be determined by preferences of students and teachers, and tutors’ availability. If preferred, the program can be run as 4 sessions incorporating 2 masterclasses per session.  

All participating students will receive a copy of the HSCM Student Notebook, a 50-page workbook containing explanations and questions to accompany the tutorials, as well as links to additional resources for students interested in learning more.

About the Masterclass program

Our High School Cancer Masterclasses started as a pilot program in 2018. With the generous help and support of supervising teachers, we ran tutorials at two high schools in Victoria. Students were delighted to participate, and we quickly realised the demand for our program.

Building on this, in 2019, over 150 students across eight Victorian High Schools participated in the program. Teachers and students provided positive feedback on the Masterclasses’ engaging design, presentation clarity, and content relevance.

Year-on-year since then our program has grown in participation rates and reach, with classes now being delivered interstate outside of Victoria. This gives more students the opportunity to learn about cancer, which is estimated to affect 1 in 2 Australians by age 80.