National Science Teachers’ Summer School

The National Science Teachers Summer School (NSTSS) is designed to provide experienced teachers of science with a chance to re-engage with their love of science, and in turn, enhance their teaching of science to students.

In January 2015, just like students attending the NYSF, 46 teachers from around the country again converged at the Australian National University in Canberra for a program filled with seminars, lectures, lab visits and workshops designed to develop and enhance teaching practices in the classroom.


Damien Pearce, Director of National Youth Science Forum says, “The NSTSS is an NYSF program designed to really excite the teachers who attend about the latest scientific developments and possibilities,” he said. “It also provides hands-on lab experiences that they might not normally be exposed to, using the latest equipment. And that’s quite a different opportunity for those who participate.”

Federal Member for Bowman in Queensland, Mr Andrew Laming, opened the 2015 NSTSS with a speech focusing on the importance of STEM education and its far-reaching effects on school children. He focused on the importance of arming young people with the appropriate level of STEM knowledge and understanding so that they can find good jobs, irrespective of whether they end up working in STEM fields.


Supporting funding for the 2015 program was provided by the Commonwealth Department of Education and the Department of Industry and Science, through Questacon. NYSF acknowledges this support and would also like to thank the ANU, University of Canberra, CSIRO, Australian National Insect Collection, Questacon, the National Arboretum, Tidbinbilla Deep Space Tracking Station, Mt Stromlo Observatory, Australian Parliament House, School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering – University of Sydney, National Arboretum, Mount Stromlo Observatory and Geoscience Australia for running seminars, workshops and lectures.


Mr Pearce says, “We know from our engagement with NYSF students and their families that enthusiastic and committed teachers of science make a difference to a young person’s decision to continue to work in the STEM areas. We’re looking forward to running the 2016 NSTSS and reaching out to more teachers through this program.”

The 2016 program will run from 11-15 January. For more information about the 2016 NSTSS program, email




Q & A with Steven Falconieri, Chief of Staff, Session A January 2015

  1. Did your attendance at NYSF at the beginning of year 12 have an impact on your university choice? For example, did the NYSF show you that there was more than one university to choose from when it came to selecting which courses you chose to study?

The NYSF Next Step program at UNSW provided an amazing opportunity to get an insight into a University that was interstate. This opportunity in conjunction with the Beyond Year 12 presentations held on session motivated me to be more ambitious and apply for a variety of courses at different universities. This turned out to be one of my best decisions as the program and opportunities offered by UNSW and demonstrated at the Next Step program were second to none for my chosen field of study.

  1. What were some of the challenges of being Chief of Staff on session?

The position of P1 on session was an absolute privilege. Working with such a talented and passionate team was definitely a highlight. Among the challenges faced on session, some of the most prominent were keeping up with the evolution of the program over the years and being detached from the students’ experience on a day-to-day basis.

One of the key contributing factors of the program is it embraces change with each session and consequently each year. Although this makes way for bigger and better things, it provides somewhat of a logistical challenge when organising an already busy program.

On the other hand, the limited time to interact and find out more about the brightest youth in the country is more a personal challenge that comes with the role. There is nothing like the discussions of everyone’s day and opinions that happen around meal times. Unfortunately, there is only so much time available on session to hear all the stories and this is less when facilitating the next big thing in the program.

  1. What advice would you offer year 12 students when it comes to selecting a Bachelor Degree and University?

I recall the biggest lesson learnt on session when I was a student being that you didn’t need to know what you wanted to be when you graduated just what you wanted to learn while at University.

Eventually, we all have to graduate but a lot of degrees – especially science and engineering; medicine not so much – have common first year courses. This means that you can make the decision after trying 12 months of university, which is quite different from school. Since these degrees have the same core courses, this will have a minimum financial and time impact on your chosen career or academic path. Obviously, each university and degree is different but the key is to do your research and always be confident that there is more than one way to achieve your goal.

Steve Falconieri with Kirsten Garwood from IBM

Steve Falconieri with Kirsten Garwood       from IBM


  1. On your recent IBM internship, how did the opportunity of your internship come about? What projects did you have the opportunity to work on and what did you learn from this experience?

IBM offers annual internships in its array of business units each year. I learnt of these opportunities at a university careers expo and decided to find out more as I approached the end of my penultimate year of study, as this is when most opportunities are offered to undergraduates.

IBM’s internship programs are quite unique to other businesses as they offer six or 12 month terms as opposed to three to 12 weeks. This extended period of time working with IBM’s Websphere Web Content Management as a Software Developer Intern allowed me to work in both a Level 3 Support and Feature Test team. Both of these roles revealed the business motivations, requirements and practicalities that are masked by a university environment.

Consequently, I gained an exposure to the real world of software development and an industry I can’t wait to be a part of. This opportunity first and foremost cemented my personal goals and career path whilst motivating me to complete my final year of university with a new vigour and industry perspective in mind.

  1. Last words? 

As members of the NYSF community it is our responsibility to make the most of the opportunities that we have experienced. Consequently, I implore all alumni of the program to maintain the networks that were founded at the NYSF as they have the ability to contribute to the society of which we are all a part.

NYSF in the media

Below are links to a number of stories and items that featured the NYSF in recent weeks. They are very helpful to review if you want to know more about the NYSF, its activities, and its program.

Interview with NYSF students Sahil and Anastasia, about attending the National Youth Science Forum

Announcement of major new funding partner of the NYSF

Launch of Science 50:50 Project by Professor Veena Sahajwalla at NYSF Session A 2015

(article behind paywall – search for for “Imagine that Veena Sahajwalla’s 5050 gender split for science”

Visit to the ANU School of Engineering by NYSF students in January, and about the NYSF teachers’ program, the National Science Teachers’ Summer School

Youtube video produced by ACTEW Water about the students’ visit to the Cotter Dam and water treatment facility in January.

TV interview with student NYSF Peggy about attending the National Youth Science Forum.

TV news item about NYSF students visiting the Canberra Heritage Railway Museum during January.

Radio interview with students David and Sachini, and Jeremy Smith from ANU Engineering and Engineers without Borders, about their hands-on visit during the January Sessions.

Radio interview with students Sophie and Michael, and student staff leader      during their visit to ACTEW Water in Canberra


Expressions of Interest for NYSF 2016 open on 1 March 2015

Online expressions of interest to attend NYSF 2016 will open a month earlier this year, on 1 March 2015 and will be open until to 31 May 2015.

Who can apply?

Any year 11 student who is:

  • Interested in a career in science, technology and engineering
  • Planning to do a science, technology or engineering course at an Australian University
  • An Australian Citizen or has permanent residency status
  • Achieving good marks in science, but also has other interests and skills

Applicants don’t need to be at the top of the science class, as long as they can demonstrate an obvious passion and commitment to science subjects. It is important that you have a broad range of interests, both extra-curricular and academic.

Please note: Your application must be endorsed by your local Rotary Club as part of the application process.

Look out for these postcards in your schools or local coffee shops or go to to learn more.

We’ll show you things you’ve never considered.


ANU video features NYSF 2015 students

The Australian National University has produced this video to promote the resources of the various science, technology, engineering and medical schools on campus.

Several NYSF students are featured, and it gives a great picture of what it’s like to come to our program, along with some of the other science and maths programs hosted at the university.

You can check it out here

NYSF Alumni wins BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Award

NYSF 2014 Alumni Jackson Huang from Queensland has taken out first place in the 2015 BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards ceremony in Melbourne.

Jackson, a recent high school graduate from Queensland Academy of Science, Mathematics and Technology, investigated the interactions between different heartburn drugs and how they might affect or weaken one another.

Working at the University of Queensland and the Queensland University of Technology, Jackson found that one combination of heartburn drugs involving magnesium hydroxide may be more effective than another combination involving aluminium hydroxide.

As well as finding out why this weakening occurred, he is also trialling an alternative additive.

Winning the award gives Jackson the opportunity to compete in the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in the United States.

ISEF brings together more than 1,000 of the brightest scientific minds from around the globe to compete in one of the world’s largest pre-university celebrations of science.

The BHP Billiton Science and Engineering Awards operating since 1981 are a partnership between BHP Billiton, CSIRO and the Australian Science Teachers Association. The Awards are also supported by Intel Corporation.

Jackson is no stranger to winning awards. When he was just 16, he was named the International Brain Bee Champion after winning a neuroscience competition for young students, 13 to 19 years of age for two years running. He participated in the championship held in Vienna, Austria.

She rocks!

Daniella de Pretis is from Adelaide, and attended the NYSF in 2004.

“I attended high school in South Australia and although I knew I loved science, I had no idea what I wanted to do with myself! In my time at the NYSF I learned that by studying a generalised degree, I would have the option to try a range of subjects and then specialise in what I liked over the course of the degree. This wider view was attractive to me, and helped me to decide where I wanted to study after year 12.

The University of Adelaide was my first choice – it is the only Group of 8 university in South Australia and that was important to me because I wanted to learn from the best, and give myself the greatest chance of obtaining a good job at the end of my degree. I remember my first orientation day, sitting in the lecture theatre and having all the heads of the different science faculties talking about their departments as a way to entice us! I knew I would study chemistry and biology, because I liked them in high school, but I also thought that geology and psychology (which were not available at school) sounded interesting, so I wanted to try them too.

I am thankful that I chose a general science degree

I am thankful that I chose a general science degree because it turned out that I fell in love with geology! I majored in geology and chemistry, and did honours in geology (focusing on geochemistry). The course work was challenging, but we got to travel to some amazing places; in my honours year alone I went to New Zealand, Arkaroola (Northern Flinders Ranges), Perth and Kangaroo Island. My honours project was titled “Using Lithogeochemistry to determine the Stratigraphy and Provenance of the Kanmantoo Group, Kangaroo Island”.

After university, I was offered a graduate job with Newmont Mining. I worked at their Tanami (Australia’s most isolated mine!) and Boddington gold mines. I loved being on site, the friendships and camaraderie between the workers is unlike anything you experience in the office world. You are thrown into work as needed.


After a few years I decided that I wanted to add to my education and so I studied a Masters of Economics through the University of New England. Since completing this, I have moved from working on the mine site, to working as a financial analyst in strategy and long term planning for Rio Tinto. I am able to combine my knowledge of mining with financial analysis to determine if Rio Tinto is making the right financial decisions for its businesses.

With my geology degree I have been able to travel all over Australia and New Zealand as part of my work. I have been to some very remote spots that not too many people would get to experience. The geology department at The University of Adelaide is one of Australia’s best, and if it wasn’t for their passion and the knowledge I learned whilst attending the NYSF I may have never discovered my own passion for rocks and the mining industry!

NYSF Alumni wins 2015 Colombo Plan Scholarship

NYSF alumni Ee-Faye Chong has been awarded a prestigious scholarship to study in Asia and the Pacific in 2015 as part of the Federal Government’s New Colombo Plan.

Ee-Faye was one of six ANU students selected for the scholarship; they are studying a range of degrees in the sciences, International Relations and law.

It’s extremely exciting to be part of this opportunity. I hope I will be able to represent Australia and my university to the best of my ability

Ee-Faye is thrilled to be heading off to Tohoku University Japan. “It’s extremely exciting to be part of this opportunity. I hope I will be able to represent Australia and my university to the best of my ability,” she said.

The selection criteria were not only based on academic skills but also on each student’s leadership qualities and experience with living away from home. “I think what really helped me was having firm goals regarding what I wanted to do on exchange and being able to convey my ideas to the panel. It was invaluable to ask people to proofread my application and practice interview questions with me.”

The New Colombo Plan scholarships, valued at up to $65,000 each, will allow each student to spend up to 12 months at an overseas university, with an optional further six months as an intern.

The New Colombo Plan was launched by Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop in December 2013, as a platform for Australia’s engagement with Asia.

Ee-Faye Chong

NYSF Alumni Ee-Faye Chong wins 2015 Colombo Plan Scholarship


“The NYSF is crucial”

Steven Tingay grew up in country Victoria where there were not that many outlets for kids who were mad about science and astronomy from the age of six, even as he progressed through high school. He knew no-ne else as passionate about science as he.

He received his first book about the Universe from his uncle when he was five. A telescope was acquired soon after. “I still remember my first look at the moon through that telescope. My mum also told me that my great-grandmother used to walk me up and down the street at night as a baby, pointing out the constellations. I can’t verify that. Good story if true, however”.

Going to the NYSF in 1987, he was suddenly surrounded by others with the same passion. It made for lots of late nights during the two-week session.

“I remember a lot about the visits to science facilities – the highlight for me was going to Mt Stromlo Observatory. And I remember going to Honeysuckle Creek, where the young guy who gave us a tour opened up his telescope and started burning a hole in his dome via the reflection of the sun off his mirror”.

(Uni of) Melbourne was the natural choice

Steven was the first in his family to study at university. He chose the University of Melbourne for its reputation as one of the best physics departments in the country and it was close to home. “I wanted to do maths and physics as the precursor to a PhD in astrophysics,” says Steven. “So, Melbourne was the natural choice. I chose the Australian National University (ANU) for my PhD because astrophysics was what I wanted to do. Full stop. I did a summer vacation scholarship at Mt Stromlo at the end of second year and loved it. When I got PhD scholarship offers at Melbourne and ANU, I chose ANU. In general, I think it is best to change institutions between undergraduate and postgraduate, to gain some diversity, aside from any other considerations”.

Steven’s career highlights are many but he says the best and most recent is leading the development of a new $50m radio telescope, the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA). The MWA project is a consortium of 15 institutions from four countries (Australia, USA, New Zealand, India) and has taken many years to develop and build in remote Western Australia. The telescope has been operating for two years and has collected 3 petabytes of data.

Almost every week the MWA team is uncovering something new about our Universe. “Our ultimate goal is to look back 13 billion years to only 1 billion years after the Big Bang, to watch the first stars and galaxies form in the universe. Leading the MWA has been a highlight because going back six years this was a project in big trouble. I took over and applied my astrophysics and engineering knowledge, as well as personnel and project management skills, to lead the project to success”.

The MWA is the only precursor for the low frequency Square Kilometre Array and the first of three SKA precursors to be fully operational. “That turn around over the last five years has been cause for considerable satisfaction, watching a big international team now exploiting the facility for science (and getting my hands on a bit of data myself!).”

For Steven, the NYSF is not just important, it’s more like crucial. “Over my career, I keep coming back to the same set of considerations for success. Having smart people. Occupying a stimulating environment. Taking on big challenges. Physically bringing people together and developing networks.”

“NYSF was, and is still as far as I know, the only national activity doing this for people at a crucial point in forming their thoughts about careers. It was the first step for me in considering science as a human endeavour, rather than a collection of facts, theories, and measurements. This is a crucial realisation that scientists should have early in their careers”.

NYSF … was the first step for me in considering science as a human endeavour

The networking aspect was fantastic. “I’m in my forties now and old NYSF colleagues from 1987 Session B keep popping up in positions of importance and influence. We have quite a club going now.”

Steven also remembers meeting a young lady at the NYSF interested in molecular biology. “We ended up going to The University of Melbourne together. We were married in 1992, have been married for 22 years now, and have two sons. So, aside from the science impact of the NYSF, it has had a fundamental impact on my overall life!”

Professor Steven Tingay attended the NSYF in 1987 (Photo credit to James Campbell)

Professor Steven Tingay attended the NYSF in 1987 (Launch of the Murchison Widefield Array Telescope – Photo credit to James Campbell)


NYSF Alumni Brody Hannan recalls his NYSF experience

NYSF Alumni Brody Hannan has just started a Bachelor of Advanced Science at the Australian National University (ANU), and was selected as a Tuckwell Scholar for 2015, one of six NYSF students to be awarded these prestigious scholarships. Here he recounts how he got there:

“My story with ANU and science began when I was 14.

In October 2011, I attended “The Science Experience”. The Science Experience is an event consisting of 3-4 days of science activities at various universities across Australia – all seeking to engage Year 9 and 10 students in science. I chose to participate in The Science Experience held at ANU, organised by Dr Greg Lane, a research fellow at the Department of Nuclear Physics at ANU.

Since the first day of the forum where we gathered in the courtyard outside the Psychology and Physics Building, I was captivated by the magic of ANU and science.  That was the first time I had ever seen a university – and throughout the event I made some great friends, met some like minded people, and became cemented in science. Prior to The Science Experience, I didn’t know science was actually a “thing” out there – that it was something you could do at university; that there were other students also interested in science. Following The Science Experience, I promised myself I’d be committed to school, to taking up as many opportunities as possible and being the best I can be.

Two years later, when I was in Year 11, I was walking through my school’s office. Standing at the reception desk was a familiar face – it was a girl I had met on The Science Experience those 2 years ago. After talking to her for a little while, I asked her about what she was doing at my school, knowing she lived several hours away. She explained that being a year older than me and as a year 12 student, she had just come back from what was known as the “National Youth Science Forum” and was travelling around the area giving presentations about the forum to schools.

I had first heard about NYSF when I was still in primary school. A family friend who was several years older than me had also gone on the forum and found it to be absolutely incredible. The thought of one day going on NYSF had always been sitting in the back of my mind but it wasn’t till this girl I had met on The Science Experience turned up at my school that I realised “this thing was real”.

NYSF allowed me to experience areas of science that I had never heard of before

Having attended a similar forum, The Science Experience, previously, I thought I had some kind of an idea about what NYSF would be like. I was wrong – NYSF was nothing like I had ever experienced before. The tailored academic programme allowed me to fuel my interest for physics and mathematics yet also allowed me to experience areas of science that I had never heard of before. The equally extensive social program of NYSF opened my eyes to all the other young people out there who also had a passion for science.

Brody Hannan 3

Brody Hannan 2

Growing up I was the only kid I knew who wanted to get into science. And mind you, I thought I was pretty big on science. When I got to NYSF, and asked around about what other people wanted to do when they finished school, people were saying careers and things I didn’t even know existed. NYSF was the first time I had met someone who wanted to be a doctor. But they didn’t say “doctor”, they said “medicine”, and along with it GAMSATs and UMATs – things I had never heard of before. I didn’t even know “medicine” was a thing. I didn’t know what it involved. People were saying they wanted to be “software engineers”, “biochemists”, “chemical researchers”…. I had no idea you could make a career out of research. Furthermore, NYSF taught me science was much more then wearing a lab coat and doing research all day. Science was a dynamic and exciting field that had a spot in it for everybody – and desperately needed people to make it more relevant to the public so that everyone can understand the important role science plays in building the world of tomorrow.

Of the many valuable lessons I gained from NYSF; for me the most important was to always strive to make a difference. NYSF was filled with hundreds of young people, all passionate about something in their lives – and that’s how differences are made- when passionate people do the things they love.

One of the most bizarre moments of the forum was when we visited the Department of Nuclear Physics. As soon as we entered the department, we were greeted by our guide, Dr Greg Lane. To my surprise he remembered me from The Science Experience all those years ago, and after talking to him for a while, discovered he himself was an “NYSF-er”. That simple by-chance meeting proved to me that as “NYSF-ers”, as people passionate about science, we are called to share that passion with others and make a genuine difference. That’s what drives the collaboration between scientists, the sharing of ideas, and the global networks that are so typical of the scientific field.

Prior to NYSF, I had never intended to apply for the international programs available for NYSF participants. It was too much money, took up too much time, all right before our final exams. It seemed impossible – but having left NYSF with a burning desire to follow my passion for science, I decided to apply to the London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF), even though I was still very apprehensive.

Being my first time overseas, LIYSF was truly overwhelming. The forum saw 425 people from 64 countries coming together for two weeks of lectures and demonstrations from leading scientists, visits to world class research centres, scientific institutions and organisations, including the finest laboratories and universities in the United Kingdom as well as the opportunity to meet renowned scientists from all over the world. The forum also included an optional CERN program, which I also took up, to visit CERN and an exclusive tour of the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. It was quite surreal to have been to places I’ve only read about in books or seen on TV. I remember doing an assignment on the LHC back when I was 13 – never did I imagine that one day I’d actually get to go hundreds of metres underground and see the LHC myself.

From the beginning of the opening ceremony, LIYSF highlighted the importance of global collaboration between scientists in every field of science – it’s this way of thinking which will ensure that science continues to have a big impact upon society, a mentality which was captured by the forum.

Brody Hannan 4 Brody Hannan CERN sign

Like many high school students with plans to go onto further study, the search and availability of scholarships is an important factor in the “applying-for-uni” process. I was no exception. Since The Science Experience, I had dreamt of studying at ANU, and NYSF only reiterated that. After searching through the ANU website however, I discovered I was only eligible for a very small number of scholarships – one them being the Tuckwell Scholarship. It seemed that if I didn’t get the scholarship, I’d perhaps have to give up my dream of going to ANU and look towards other universities for scholarships. NYSF didn’t necessarily give me the belief that I had a “shot” at the Tuckwell Scholarship, but it taught me that even the application process was a valuable experience within itself; allowing you to reflect upon what you’ve done, and to generate ideas about your future – the experience just doesn’t “stop”. Much like NYSF, you take the ideas and skills that you gained from it and carry them with you long after the two weeks of the forum have ended.

Having progressed through the first few application rounds, I made it to the interview weekend. I felt I did poorly in the first round of interviews and I was very intimidated by the extremely high calibre of the other candidates. I felt I had no chance. The next day however, the day of my final two rounds of interviews, I woke up early and went for a walk around the ANU campus. I went and sat in the courtyard outside the Psychology and Physics Building where The Science Experience had began three years earlier. In that moment I decided that no matter what, ANU was where I wanted to be.

When I got the call from Graham and Louise Tuckwell offering me a Tuckwell Scholarship, I simply did not believe it. I couldn’t put my thoughts into words about the whole thing and I was very nervous, yet also very excited about the incredible opportunity.

NYSF … has inspired me to addressing the inequalities in rural schools.

The scholarship will launch me into the next stage of my life where I’ll continue to chase my passion for science, and work hard at making a genuine difference. NYSF imbued me with this mentality, and has inspired me to addressing the inequalities in rural schools.

I mentioned earlier that NYSF was a big eye-opener for me into the world of science and the endless careers and opportunities that lay in such a dynamic field. I thought I knew about science but I had only scratched the surface of the possibilities. I reflect now on how many young people have discounted science because their knowledge of its scope is even more limited than mine was.

How many times are kids told “you can be whatever you want to be”? The reality is however that if you’re not aware of all of the opportunities out there, how can you ever know what you truly desire? Your choices are limited only by your knowledge of what’s available.

I believe our dreams are built upon exposure

What it comes down to is a lack of exposure. I believe our dreams are built upon exposure. With the momentum I’ve gained from the Tuckwell Scholarship I hope to establish an organisation which would bridge the gap between rural and city schools – by exposing rural students to different areas of broad and accommodating fields – such as science. NYSF has inspired me to tackle this issue, and has given me the strong foundations I need to dream big and seek out and create new opportunities not only for myself but for others as well.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from NYSF it’s to take up as many opportunities that come your way and to work hard to create new ones. Looking back on those last couple of years, 2014 in particular, it’s funny how things all worked out. Prior to NYSF, I didn’t know about the Tuckwell Scholarship, going to ANU was just a dream and I had no idea I could go overseas and represent my country… for science. I suppose when you’re younger, you don’t know what kind of things you can do when you’re older. You don’t know what kind of opportunities are out there in your future.

NYSF has taught me that it’s important that you take the opportunities available to you now, as they will open the doors for other opportunities in the future. Having now spent 3 weeks at ANU as a uni student I’m beginning to get into the rhythm of the fast paced lifestyle of what it means to be a student at ANU. I wake up every day and am inspired by the people, the campus, the classes and the extracurricular activities that I come into contact with every day. I realise I had to take a lot of opportunities to get to this point in time. And the only way to take up these opportunities, and to create new ones, is through participation.”