From the Director

Welcome to the December 2013 issue of NYSF Outlook.

This time of year provides the opportunity to reflect on the past year and look forward to the future.

One of the most influential people in both my personal and professional life, who I met in my teens, often reminds me during difficult and challenging times about the analogy of the Fair Weathered Sailor. A Fair Weathered Sailor is someone that is agreeable only when the prevailing conditions are pleasant. As soon as conditions deteriorate these people prove to be unreliable where any ideology of teamwork and taking responsibility for their actions transforms into unhelpful self-preservation. Change is inevitable in life. The challenge that we all have is not presented by the change itself; it is how we choose to respond.

The forth-coming January sessions marks my third year of involvement with the NYSF. Based on my experiences, one of the pivotal aspects of the NYSF, in synergy with science, engineering and technology, is the focus on preparing young people to identify, address and reflect on the challenges that they face as they find their active place in society.

The NYSF empowers young people

In practice, the NYSF does this by empowering young people to listen, reflect, share ideas and even be contentious during the Forum’s visits and personal development activities. It is the ambition of the NYSF to prepare young people to cope with change, through understanding conflicting perspectives, and develop the self-confidence to make their own informed decisions and stay true to themselves.

To say that it has been a busy year for the NYSF would be nothing short of an understatement. This year has seen a change of leadership, an office restructure, a focus on governance, all within a framework of critical review and reflection. Into 2014, the challenges for the NYSF, in my view, centre on the ongoing financial sustainability of the organisation, as well as its relevance, so that we can ensure that we will be around for at least another 30 years!

I would like to acknowledge the professional support and ongoing commitment by the NYSF Staff, Executive and Council towards the success of the organisation.

I wish everyone a safe and enjoyable Festive Season

On behalf of all of us at the NYSF, I wish everyone a safe and enjoyable Festive Season.

We are especially looking forward to welcoming our latest cohort of NYSF participants in … 18 sleeps, until Session A!

Damien Pearce

2014 NYSF Chiefs of Staff

Congratulations to Stuart McKelvie, Caroline Leach and Tayla McKechnie, the three former NYSF students who will each be coordinating the three January Sessions of the NYSF in 2014 as the chiefs of staff.

As volunteers they are directly responsible, with the mentoring of the Director and his team, for 150 domestic and international students, the student staff team of 20+, and the smooth running of all of the activities, forums and lab visits during their respective sessions.

Stuart, from Queensland, attended the January Sessions in Perth in 2010, and returned as a staffie in 2011 and 2012.  Stuart was selected by the Dalby Rotary Club, and attended the South African National Youth Science Week in 2010. Stuart has just finished a Bachelor of Commerce at Bond University.

Caroline is from the south coast of New South Wales, and attended the January Sessions in 2011 having been selected by the Shoalhaven Sunrise Rotary Club.  Caroline was a staffie in 2012 and 2013 and attended the APEC Youth Science Festival Thailand in 2011. Caroline is studying a double Bachelor Degree of Advanced Science/ Arts at the University of New South Wales, where she hopes to focus on medical Microbiology and Immunology.

Tayla, from Phillip Island in Victoria, attended the January Sessions in 2010, selected by the Phillip Island and San Remo Rotary Club.  Tayla also attended the National Youth Science Week in South Africa in 2010.  She was a staffie in 2011 and 2012.

Tayla is studying a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Genetics, at the University of Melbourne and would like to go on to complete a Masters of Genetics and pursue a career in research here or overseas.

I am honoured to be in this position and again be part of the team that facilitates that experience

“The NYSF is always such a positive experience for both the students and student staff involved, and I am honoured to be in this position and again be part of the team that facilitates that experience. I’m looking forward to the challenges that Session will no doubt bring for me, and the staff team. Stu, Caroline and myself have had a lot of support from each other and the entire student staff team throughout the year so we know we’ve got an incredible staff team for the 2014 Sessions. I’m just very excited to be involved in the NYSF again!”

Each of these young people has displayed outstanding leadership skills to be selected to take on this role, as well as a high level of commitment to the NYSF.

“In the lead up to the Sessions, they have been juggling considerable study and personal responsibilities along with their undertaking to manage the NYSF in January,” says NYSF Director, Damien Pearce.  “Their ability to do this illustrates their capacity to manage task before them and the commitment of the NYSF to facilitating a Forum that is for youth, run by youth; as well as the holistic development of young people who are well positioned to be leaders of the future”.

Summer fun for teachers of science

Congratulations to the teachers of science from across Australia who will be attending the National Science Teachers’ Summer School (NSTSS) in January 2014.

Run in collaboration with the Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA) and with the support of the Australian National University (ANU), the NSTSS is now in its fifth year.

Teachers spend a week networking and talking

Teachers spend a week on campus at the ANU, networking, talking to leading science researchers and this year, will meet with Richard Johnson – one of the winners of the Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching.

Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott with Richard Johnson, winner of the PM's Science Prize for Teaching 2013

Prime Minister, the Hon Tony Abbott with Richard Johnson, winner of the PM’s Science Prize for Teaching 2013 (Image: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science, Inspiring Australia Strategy administered by the Department of Industry)


Damien Pearce, Director of NYSF, says that the synergies between quality teaching and learning of science, technology and maths are reflected in the close relationship between NYSF and ASTA, and has resulted in this collaboration, along with the ANU, to deliver the summer school for teachers.

“The NTSS is probably unique in the opportunity it offers for teachers of science at both the primary and secondary level to network, and exchange experiences. We can’t wait to hear about what they learn in January.”

Passing the pen

Congratulations to Adam de Totth, who was voted in as Secretary of the Council of the National Science Summer School Inc (which operates the National Youth Science Forum) in November 2013.  He takes over from Ian Sayers, who stood down from the role in August 2013.  Ian had served as Secretary of the Council since 2004.

“Ian’s contribution to the Council in the role as Secretary has been invaluable,” says Chair, Dr Craig Cormick.  “I would like to thank him for his long-term commitment and contribution to the organisation and wish him all the best in the future.”

Geoff Burchfield, whose role as the NYSF Director coincided with Ian’s tenure as Secretary, says, “For as long as I can recollect, Ian has been one of the strongest supporters of the NYSF – all the time as a volunteer!  He was always open to new ideas, even if they were out of his comfort zone.  And I was able to rely on his honest opinion, knowing he would have carefully weighed the options before forming his views.  For that, I thank him.”

Adam de Totth has been District Chair of Rotary District 9710 for four years and will step down from that role in 2014.

Adam de Totth is new secretary for National Science Summer School  Council

Adam de Totth is new secretary for National Science Summer School Council

“Adam brings a wealth of experience and knowledge about how Rotary interacts with the NYSF program,” says Dr Cormick, “and I am sure that his insights and understanding will provide guidance in the coming years.”


Oxford success for NYSF alumnus

Congratulations to James Kwiecinski, who attended the NYSF in 2009.  He has been awarded the Sir John Monash Scholarship to study Physics and Mathematics at Oxford University.

James Kwiecinski image courtesy Mark Wilson News Corp Australia

James Kwiecinski                                                         image courtesy Mark Wilson                                    News Corp Australia

James has recently completed his studies at Monash University in Melbourne, and is doing some volunteer teaching until it is time to take up his place in the UK in 2014.

Rotary District 9800 in Melbourne supported James’ selection to the NYSF.

London calling

This time last year, George Kettle, from Mt St Patrick College in Murwillumbah was finishing up year 11 and getting ready to travel to Perth to take part in the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) in January 2013.  He had been selected as one of almost 500 young people from around Australia who attend the NYSF each year.

Fast-forward 12 months, and George is preparing to attend the NYSF again, but this time as a volunteer staff member.  And in July 2014, he will be heading to London as a volunteer staff member at the London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF).  George also attended the LISYF in 2013, having been selected as one of ten young people representing Australia.

After the NYSF January Sessions in 2013, George was picked by his peers to participate in the NYSF Staff Leadership Training Program. Each year, the student staff who coordinate and deliver the January Sessions are drawn from the previous years’ program participants, after being nominated by their peers.  A program of professional leadership training is delivered to the students, before they are selected to take on positions of responsibility in the NYSF to organise and facilitate the following year’s January sessions.

NYSF HAS influenced my study choices by opening up new areas in science – fields I didn’t know existed

This training involves a week-long program and a leadership bush trek in the April/May holidays, known as ANZAC, to learn, understand and display the expectations required to be a student staff member and program leader. Based on ANZAC values, this program teaches skills including personal resilience, logistics, group development, personal wellbeing, time management, taking responsibility for actions and other capabilities required to facilitate a successful full January session program of 500 attendees.

Dominic Price, George Kettle and Stuart McKelvie during the NYSF Staff Leadership Trek in 2013

Dominic Price, George Kettle and Stuart McKelvie during the staff leadership trek 2013

George says, “The NYSF opens up a new perspective on science and the people in science.  To be a great scientist – or any other professional – you also have to be a well-rounded person.  The people you meet at NYSF are all intelligent, but what makes NYSF stand out are all the great personalities.

It HAS influenced my study choices by opening up new areas in science – fields I didn’t know existed.  Because I love this diversity, I decided to study science further.  The hard part is choosing where to go next.  I love it all!

I feel honoured to be selected to attend both the NYSF and the LIYSF.  I can not believe the opportunities that the NYSF has opened up for me.”

Donate Now

Could the NYSF become your favourite donor recipient?

The NYSF has deductible gift recipient status for tax purposes, so we’re set up if you want to donate and help us to ensure that the program continues to offer the kinds of experiences and opportunities that previous students have had.

You can make a donation at the front page of the NYSF corporate website.  All donated funds are directed to running the NYSF programs for young people.

Adelaide alumni jump up for the NYSF

NYSF alumni based in and around Adelaide have been getting together at the beach just after Christmas for the past four years, and this year will be no different.  Gemma Gransbury (NYSF 2010) says that each year, incoming NYSF participants join the gathering.

“It’s a really fun day, playing volleyball, swimming and even building sandcastles.  It’s also a great opportunity for incoming NYSF students to get to know each other and ask any questions before session, not to mention talking about different University courses for all of the alumni.”

Gemma has just finished studying a Bachelor of Science (Advanced) at the University of Adelaide, inspired by her experience at NYSF, and she hopes to complete Honours in Chemistry in 2014.

The Curious Country

Earlier this year, The Office of the Chief Scientist asked Australians what they would like to know more about; what scientific issues concern them and what discoveries inspire them. The results shaped a collection of essays about the scientific issues affecting Australians today. The Curious Country is available as a free download for your e-book reader, tablet, computer or mobile phone at