Tutoring Entrepreneur

Sarah Carman

STEM has always been an important aspect of my life.

I completed my HSC at Cheltenham Girls’ High School in 2008, graduating with an ATAR of 99+ and a Premier’s Award for Academic Excellence. During my time at Cheltenham, I was heavily involved in youth science programs.

In 2008, I represented NSW at the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science Conference in Perth, and I won the Young Scientist Award for my independent project on the inner workings of a theremin in 2006.

I have a degree in Chemistry from the University of Sydney and studied the sciences heavily during secondary school. However, I have found that the maths are my favorite and most intriguing area of STEM. Ever since finishing high school, I have tutored science and maths subjects. In 2014, I was ridiculously overbooked and it became clear that the demand for great communicators with positive attitudes towards learning was huge

From student to entrepreneur

I founded Sponge Education, an in-home, one-on-one tutoring service for students of all ages in 2015,  in order to help students see that STEM really is not that scary. These days, I know that whilst my opinion of STEM subjects remains positive, many school students perceive STEM in a negative light because it confuses them, or they can’t see its relevance. Our job is to help students find joy and satisfaction in the pursuit of these subjects, so that they can enjoy their studies, as well as keep options open in the future.

Throughout my entrepreneurial efforts, I have used the problems solving skills I learned by studying mathematics, and have felt well equipped to deal with difficult problems that don’t have obvious answers. Studying high levels of maths also taught me not to give up when things get tough. I can work through an issue whenever one arises, because I know that if I spend time on it and think about it deeply enough, I will definitely figure it out in the end.

Shining a bright light on STEM

I founded Sponge in order to help students see that STEM really is not that scary. I know that while my opinion of STEM subjects is positive, many school students perceive STEM in a negative light because it confuses them, or they can’t see its relevance. At Sponge, our job is to help students find joy and satisfaction in the pursuit of these subjects so that they can enjoy their studies and keep their options open in the future.

Sponge is not just a tutoring service, but rather a gateway into the possibilities of future careers and life paths. STEM subjects provide a platform for students to develop their skills. By facilitating opportunities for students to learn how to really think, Sponge equips future adults with the skills needed to tackle any problem we face as a species.  

Running a business is complicated

Even with a degree in chemistry, I have found that the most important skill I need to make Sponge a success is communication. It doesn’t matter if I’m chatting with parents, discussing things with tutors, or helping students with their subjects – communication is key. That, and having a positive attitude. Positivity goes a long way when you’re venturing into unchartered territory.

Throughout schooling and my entrepreneurial efforts, I’ve always been an all or nothing person. When I’m into something, I give it all I’ve got and won’t rest until it’s done. Positivity and strong support from mentors have been a great help for me as I have gone down this path.

I am super passionate about education, particularly STEM, and I love working with students of all ages. Many of the students who come through Sponge are either disengaged, find the subject matter really tough, or just don’t feel confident in themselves. I love seeing that change during their time with us.

In the future, I would love to work with the Education Department in an advisory capacity at some stage. The entrepreneurial life I’m leading is pretty exciting too, so I’m quite keen to chug along and make change where I can.

tutoring service

“I’ve always been an all or nothing person. When I’m into something, I give it all I’ve got and won’t rest until it’s done.”

-Alyssa DeFalco

SARAH’S TIMELINE

>> Returned to school to gain a Bachelor of Education (Secondary) at Macquarie University

>> Founded Sponge Education

>> Competed a Bachelor of Science (Advanced) at the University of Sydney

>> Represented NSW at the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science Conference in Perth during secondary school

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