Life, The Universe and Everything

Monday 10 am – 11.30 am – Woodend Campus.

Maria Stevenson – Tutor

About the Tutor

From the age of 12 years, I knew that I wanted to do Science and to become a teacher. While in Senior Year, I read a book by the astronomer Fred Hoyle and was inspired to study Physics and Mathematics and went to the University of Queensland to become an astronomer. I am happy to say that it was there that I discovered Zoology with a wonderful lecturer, Professor W. Stephenson, and I never looked back, graduating with majors in Genetics and Entomology.

At Ipswich Girls’ Grammar School, I taught Zoology, Biology, General Science and Mathematics from Year 8 to Year 12 and loved working with the girls.  In my latter years at the School, a whole new world of teaching Science to girls in Year 6 and 7 was opened up to me and I found that an exciting challenge after teaching Senior girls for so long.

I have been involved with volunteer work in the community with the school, aged care with Red Cross, Zonta, Forum Communicators and U3A.  My husband, Charles, and I have 3 children who grew up in Ipswich and now I am delighted to have grandchildren with whom I can explore the natural world.  We have lots of varied interests and have travelled widely including to the Galapagos Islands which is a centre of interest for followers of Charles Darwin.

Apart from my family who always come first, teaching and Science have been my life and I feel fortunate to be still involved with what I love through my class with U3A.

About Life, the Universe and Everything (aka Biology)

Science is full of ideas that are simply delightful, puzzling and wonderful and our class has fun learning together and trying to make sense of it all.  We began by calling the subject “Biology” but we kept wondering about other things like space, atoms, colour and gravity as well as biology so we changed our name!

Our course does not have a fixed programme but is flexible as the topics we cover depend on what the members of the class ask about and are interested in learning.  In particular, class members like to bring questions about science topics in the news.  As a consequence, our class is interactive with lively discussions that often will then lead onto a new unit of work.

People are sometimes afraid of science as being “too hard” but we talk about things at the everyday level and you need no prior knowledge to come along and join in.

All you need for this class is curiosity, an interest in the natural world and a willingness to ask questions to find out more. We don’t have all the answers but we try our best to find out.

Have you ever wondered why the sky is blue?

  • How butterflies taste their food?
  • What is DNA and what is a gene?
  • Why Pluto is no longer a planet?
  • What is a virus?
  • Is a mushroom a plant or an animal?
  • What causes ice ages?
  • Why do we breathe?
  • Is an atom really there?
  • What’s at the centre of the earth?
  • What’s the difference between evolution and natural selection?
  • What is a Higgs Boson?
  • Why can we cure an ear ache but not the common cold ?
  • If you have ever marveled at the stars and wondered why or how or what?

This course is a place to begin exploring the fascination of Science .