From the Chief Executive Officer

It is truly a privilege to lead such a dynamic and contemporary organisation.  As confirmation of places are sent to the 2016 NYSF cohort, it’s a good time to reflect on the past year.

2014-15 was a very full and rewarding year – our highlights include the success of our youth and teacher programs, particularly launching Lockheed Martin Australia as a major sponsor, collaborating with Outward Bound Australia for the delivery of the Student Staff Leadership Program, and continuous improvements to our organisational governance.

This year, we have continued to increase our efficiency of operations and improve our reporting processes, with the successful implementation of an improved financial management system. This means that we can confirm that we are operating as economically as possible and making the greatest use of the resources available.

As the NYSF January sessions are conducted for young people by young people, this year we have focused on improving the process of developing our Student Staff Leaders (Staffies). Our NYSF Student Staff Leadership program prepares the 42 Staffies for their facilitation and coordination roles during the January Sessions. It is very pleasing that the NYSF is collaborating with Outward Bound Australia to deliver this program. As part of this program, the Staffies completed skill sets in training and mentoring and also participated in an outdoor orientated experiential based learning program.

This year we also welcomed Lockheed Martin Australia as a major sponsor of the NYSF – the first plank in our strategy to attract sponsors in the program from across the different economic sectors that are powered by science, technology and engineering. This investment by Lockheed Martin is significant and reflects an understanding of the important role of outreach and extension programs such as the NYSF in encouraging young Australians to continue their studies in the science, technology and engineering spheres. We acknowledge Lockheed Martin’s vision in joining with us to continue our support for young people.

Dr Damien Pearce and Raydon Gates, AO, Chief Executive, Lockheed Martin Australia

Dr Damien Pearce and Raydon Gates, AO,     Chief Executive, Lockheed Martin Australia

Another milestone for the NYSF in 2014-15 was to increase for the first time the numbers of young people who could attend the Canberra NYSF January Sessions. As a result of the support from the Australian National University and Burgmann College we were able to increase the numbers to 200 for each of the sessions, limiting the impact of the reduction in places upon the 2014 completion of our contract to run a third session in Western Australia. Research and discussions are continuing around delivering NYSF January Sessions in additional locations in the future.

Planning for the NYSF programs begins some 18 months prior to the January of the year in which it is delivered. Plans for 2016 and 2017 are well in hand and we are looking forward to welcoming another 400 young people to participate in the program in January. We review and revise the program each year, to ensure that the participants are learning about the latest science research as well as gaining the best opportunity to explore their options for future study and career choices.

I would like to thank Professor Monro for her leadership of the NYSF and also endorse the vote of thanks that she extended to members of the Council and executive committees, office staff, student staff and Rotary friends. I would also like to acknowledge the many individuals, from across our stakeholder groups who give up their time to give lectures, and host lab and industry visits across our suite of programs.

These multiple contributions allow the NYSF to continue each year, building on the work done over the past 32 years, delivering a series of programs that make a difference to young Australians with a passion for science, and to the wider Australian community.

Dr Damien Pearce

August 2015

Thanks to our January 2015 lab visit providers

In June, NYSF hosted a Thank You morning tea for the providers of lab visits and site tours for the NYSF 2015 January Sessions.  It was also an opportunity to officially welcome Madeline Cooper, the NYSF’s Manager, STEM Education to her new role.

“Madeline’s focus is to refresh the Education Program, starting with the January Sessions,” says NYSF Chief Executive Officer, Dr Damien Pearce.  “We are taking the opportunity to review our priorities in what we are showing the students during the 12 days they are on Session, as well as identifying some emerging issues such as entrepreneurial thinking, and the importance and value of diversity in STEM that we believe they need to be thinking about, even though they are still at school.  And we are hoping to fit in even more science, as well as continuing the social skills development and big picture views of the world that the program has been presenting for some time.”

Madeline holds degrees in Information Technology and American Studies from the ANU, and comes from a background in student recruitment and program administration.

“The biggest challenge in this role will be fitting in everything I’d like to include into the program, particularly for the January Sessions. We have such an amazing range of contributors already, and there’s a wealth of expertise both here in Canberra and further afield that I’d love to tap into.

“I’m particularly keen on showing students alternative career paths in STEM – not all people who ‘do science’ are in labs. An passion for STEM can lead you in an incredible range of directions, and NYSF is the perfect way to demonstrate this to students.”

Chief Executive Dr Damien Pearce thanking Geoff Burchfield for his 10 year involvement with the NYSF both as Director and Program Adviser

Chief Executive Dr Damien Pearce thanking Geoff Burchfield for his 10 year involvement with the NYSF both as Director and Program Adviser

The morning tea also provided an opportunity for the NYSF community to thank Geoff Burchfield for his ten-year involvement with the organisation both as Director (2006-13) and Program Adviser (2013-15).  Geoff will be continuing his involvement in 2015 through the National Science Teachers’ Summer School, which is held in January, co-inciding with week two of Session A.

“Why I joined Rotaract” – Jake Weragoda, NYSF Alumnus, 2006

Like many, I found NYSF in 2006 to be a life changing experience. The opportunity opened my perspective to challenge the status quo, and in turn, I moved from Bendigo in regional Victoria to Sydney for university. Following NYSF, I was selected to travel to Africa with the NYSF for the South African National Youth Science Week – a trip where I met my wife. I was also offered the opportunity to return as a staffie in 2007.

At the University of New South Wales, I studied a Bachelor of Science (Biotechnology) and a Diploma in Innovation Management. These qualifications saw me start as a Graduate at Campbell Arnotts in their R&D Program, and became a Product Development Technologist developing flavours and biscuits for the Shapes range. I have recently moved on to a Project Manager role at Cerebos, a food and beverage company known for brands such as Gravox, Fountain and Saxa.

When I arrived for uni in Sydney, I took on a different challenge. Understanding the generous support of Rotary to NYSF, I wanted to give something back. With Rotaract being a program of Rotary for 18-30 year olds, I took the opportunity to join the Rotaract Club on campus.

Initially, I found Rotaract to be a great avenue for community service, getting involved in volunteering and fundraising projects. Our club partnered with the likes of Guide Dogs, Ronald McDonald House and Habitat for Humanity. I soon realised that Rotaract was much more – a chance to develop my own skills.

Jake Weragoda Rotoract

Jake Weragoda Rotoract

I took on the role of Rotaract Club President, and then District Rotaract Representative, a role in which I coordinated the 11 Rotaract Clubs in the southern Sydney and Wollongong region. In this role, I met a lot of great people and coordinated a regional team to run a Charity Harbour Cruise on Sydney Harbour, a fancy dress party that raised $6,600 for the Rotary Foundation and the End Polio campaign. In 2012, I was recognised as a Paul Harris Fellow for dedication to community service. This included a donation of $1000 to the Rotary Foundation in my name.

This inspired me to do even more. I ventured to Thailand to an international Rotaract convention and never looked back. I gained an appreciation for the global network of the organisation – 200,000 Rotaractors and 1.2M Rotarians worldwide in almost every country, and have built some amazing friendships along the way. I participated in a service project in rural Thailand, have travelled around Australia to Rotaract events and conferences, attended the International Rotary Youth Leadership Award (IRYLA), and was recently invited to speak at a Rotaract Training program in California.

The personal and professional development opportunities in Rotaract are endless. Local and international community service is a huge part of the organisation, but the skill building and social networks are profound and there for the taking. In the past few years, I have held positions on the Rotaract Australia board, including my current role as Chairperson.

For Rotaract Australia, I manage a team of six and oversee the committees for the annual Australian Rotaract Conference and Australian Rotaract Games. I started a national Rotaract magazine, created partnerships with ShelterBox – facilitating clubs to raise $9,000 for the Nepal earthquake disaster – and Movember, in which we’ve raised $18,000 in the last two years. I co-developed a national Rotaract Training program for Rotaract leaders, and have been a guest speaker at over 50 Rotary and Rotaract events. In 2013, I was named Australian Rotaractor of the Year.

The tie between Rotary, Rotaract and NYSF is strong and I encourage you to embrace the opportunities available to you by remaining involved in the organisation

Find out more about Rotaract or contact Jake directly


NYSF celebrates Science Week at Science in ACTion

The National Youth Science Forum recently took part in Science in ACTion , part of the ACT’s National Science Week activities.

National Science Week is Australia’s annual celebration of science and technology and thousands of individuals – from students, to scientists to chefs and musicians – get involved, taking part in more than 1000 science events across the nation.

On the first day, school groups ranging from years 9 to 12 who study in the Canberra region visited the event, learning about the many organisations involved in science activities in the ACT and surrounding areas.

Saturday was Community Day, which kept our NYSF volunteers busy answering questions about our programs and demonstrating the very popular Van de Graaff generator and Oscilloscope, which were kindly loaned by the ANU Physics Education Centre.

Lauren, Michelle and Sarah demonstrating the Van de Graaff Generator to the kids

Lauren, Michelle and Sarah demonstrating the Van de Graaff Generator to the kids

National Science Week is electrifying

National Science Week is electrifying

National Science Week Canberra - Harry singing into the oscilliscope

National Science Week Canberra – Harry singing into the oscilliscope

NYSF Chief Executive Dr Damien Pearce said, “Participating in this event would not be possible without the support and generosity of NYSF alumni both from on campus at the ANU and living in the area. This year, 15 of our alumni helped us out at the event, which saw an estimated 5000 people visiting over the two days.”

NYSF partners ANU, Lockheed Martin, ANSTO and UNSW were also involved in talks and demonstrations throughout the Canberra event.

By Julie Maynard

Visit to Lockheed Martin NCITE Centre an eye-opening experience

Jakub Marosz is a second year student at UNSW, studying mechanical engineering and commerce. He attended the NYSF in 2013, and in July visited the Lockheed Martin Australia NexGen Cyber Information and Technology (NCITE) Centre in Canberra with a group of NYSF students and alumni.

Lockheed Martin is one of the world’s largest defense contractors; its operations span from aeronautics and information systems to outer space operations.

Jake reports:  “During our visit to the Canberra office as part of NYSF Next Step 2015 program we were taken through a range of technologies that the company is involved with that would have been dismissed as impossible 10 years ago. We learned about robotic exo-skeletons that allow soldiers to run for hours carrying insane loads, the new generation of F-35s that make Australia’s previous aircraft seem antique, and digital intelligence software capable of finding a needle in a thousand terabytes.

Needless to say, I’d found a new dream job.

Lockheed Martin Australia NexGen Cyber Information and Technology (NCITE) Centre Canberra

Lockheed Martin Australia NexGen Cyber Information and Technology (NCITE) Centre Canberra

Lockheed Martin Australia NexGen Cyber Information and Technology (NCITE) Centre Canberra

Lockheed Martin Australia NexGen Cyber Information and Technology (NCITE) Centre Canberra

Lockheed Martin Australia NexGen Cyber Information and Technology (NCITE) Centre Canberra

Lockheed Martin Australia NexGen Cyber Information and Technology (NCITE) Centre Canberra

We had the opportunity to sample some of the latest technology like, the Oculus Rift, which is being explored as a training tool for fighter pilots, a role that may not even exist for humans for much longer. Lockheed Martin is also at the forefront of developing drone technology in both civilian and military applications, such as the unmanned cargo helicopter K-MAX, which is capable of filing its own flight plans with local air authorities, freeing up valuable pilots.

The visit was a very eye opening experience and I had a great time seeing the incredible things a career in science and engineering can lead to. We live in an exciting time where technology is advancing exponentially and we’re just scratching the surface!”

Jakub Marosz, Second year Mechanical Engineering/Commerce student at UNSW, NYSF alumnus 2013

Tim Senden appointed Director ANU RSPE

Professor Tim Senden has been appointed Director of the ANU Research School of Physics and Engineering.

Tim was among the very first cohort of young people to attend the NYSF in its former guise as the National Science Summer School in 1984 and was on the NSS Council for several years.

Tim is a graduate of the ANU, completing his BSc(Hons) in Physical Chemistry in 1989 at the Research School of Chemistry, and subsequently his PhD in Atomic Force Microscopy in 1993 in the Research School of Physics and Engineering.

He has held positions at the College de France (Paris), Institute Charles Sadron (Strasbourg), and UNSW (ADFA) before returning to ANU’s Department of Applied Mathematics in Research School of Physics and Engineering in 1997 where he served as Head of the Department and as Deputy Director (Technology Development).

By Julie Maynard

Lauren Booth, NYSF alumna 2013, on studying at ANU

No idea what to do after school?

How do you harness your passion for science and turn it in to a career if you have absolutely no idea of what you want to do after school? Find out how NYSF alumna Lauren Booth, who is studying at the Australian National University,  has been given the flexibility to build her own degree, match her interests, discover new subject areas and do research in her very first year.

Lauren made the move from Ipswich, Queensland a year ago to study the Bachelor of Philosophy (PhB)program at The Australian National University (ANU).

Lauren Booth ANU, Bachelor of Philosophy (PhB)

Lauren Booth ANU, Bachelor of Philosophy (PhB)

“I always enjoyed and did pretty well at science and mathematics in high school, but never knew what I wanted to do afterwards or whether a science degree was something I was interested in pursuing,” she said.

It wasn’t until Lauren attended the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) at ANU that she really started to think about a career in science.

“The NYSF was a two week program at the beginning of Year 12 that gave me the opportunity to have a small taste of what university might be like by living on campus and participating in lab visits that highlighted the amazing facilities and researchers at ANU. The program fostered my passion for science and broadened my horizons for tertiary study.”

Like so many other students Lauren found out that she could pursue a career in science after getting a taste of the science programs at ANU. Much like the NYSF program the PhB offers students the flexibility to get a taster of our courses helping them to decide on where they want to take their degree and ultimately their career.

“During first year I studied a wide range of subjects – maths, biology, chemistry, physics, computer science. This flexibility was a huge drawcard for me as it allowed me to explore all of the different areas I was interested in.”

The other unique component of the PhB program is the opportunity for each student to undertake research from their first year of study.

“I know it’s kind of clichéd but I enjoy the opportunity to do research projects because there is always something new to learn and discover. Working one on one with leading academics is an incredible opportunity that I think would be pretty unique to the PhB program.”

The opportunities and flexibility of the PhB allows students who have varied interests, and those with specific interests, to study at a higher level, conducting research projects one-on-one with our researchers. Lauren was particularly happy about the access that ANU gave her to academics

“There are so many different research groups at ANU that you can get involved with as an undergraduate student in the PhB program – I have already done projects within both Chemistry and Biophysics.”

“Moving interstate to pursue my tertiary studies was a huge step that forced me outside my comfort zone, but I have made the most of the opportunity to live at a residential hall and immerse myself in all aspects of campus life. From my first week I felt welcomed and part of the close-knit community at ANU and look forward to the rest of my time here.”

“I am really enjoying my degree as it offers new challenges every day through my studies. I feel that it was definitely the right choice for me.”

Come and join us on Open Day and get a feel of what it is like studying science at ANU.


Viral videos and e-books: Nova launched at Australian Academy of Science

The Australian Academy of Science’s beautiful new science engagement website, Nova, was officially launched during National Science Week.

Nova also celebrated National Science Week by launching its first e-book, ‘The Greenhouse Effect’, which is available free now on iTunes.

Nova was one of the first science education websites to be created when it was first established in 1997. Now, with support from Telstra, Nova has been given a major face-lift for its coming of age.

It was launched at a VIP event at the Australian Museum in Sydney by Nova champion Professor Emma Johnston, the Voice of Nova Sharon Bulkeley, Academy President Professor Andrew Holmes, and Telstra Chairman Catherine Livingstone.


Professor Emma Johnston launches Nova


Guests at Australian Academy of Science Nova launch in August 2015

Nova features a range of science topics presented in an accessible way to suit a range of learning styles. Topics are created by specialist science communicators and digital producers and reviewed by top Australian scientists, and cover everything from dark energy to cosmetics, car crashes to climate change.

Two videos created especially for Nova have already gone viral, with more than 1.7 million views: watch them to learn more about the disappearance of bees, and about dark energy and dark matter.

The NYSF from a parent’s perspective

Daniel Lawson from Kingaroy in Queensland attended the NYSF in January 2015 and has recently returned from London as one of the 25 NYSF Alumni representing Australia at the London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF). Here is what his mum Nicki Rossi has to say about the positive effects that attending the NYSF and LIYSF have had on her son.

“First of all thank you for giving Daniel the opportunity to attend both the National Youth Science Forum in Canberra and for selecting Daniel to attend the London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF) which includes a trip to Geneva visiting the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

it does not matter where you live, if you are willing to apply yourself you can achieve whatever you set out to do

Before the NYSF, Daniel was veering towards studying engineering but the NYSF experience helped him to decide which career path he wanted to focus on – the field of scientific research. He thoroughly enjoyed the lectures and activities that he attended. He enjoyed meeting the NYSF staffies, aunts and uncles and the other students who attended the program.

One of his fundraising events for the trip to Canberra involved running a stall at the yearly Goomeri Pumpkin Festival where he sold a mixed variety of timberwork, bric-a-brac, soft toys etc. He spent the whole day talking to people about his trip and what he wants to do at University. It was great to see him interacting with people. He raised $900 that day.

The Murgon Rotary Club (D9600) in Queensland, who supported Daniel’s attendance, invited him to present about his experiences to members of the club. They were impressed with his presentation skills and how he answered their questions. Prior to going, he was very quiet but on his return he was much more confident. He had clearly matured since his NYSF experience.

Daniel is passionate about influencing other year 11 students interested in the program. He has written a couple of articles for the school newsletter, promoting the NYSF including details of how to apply. He also included his contact information to answer prospective students’ questions.

When he was successful in being selected to go to the LIYSF program, we were very excited. It also goes to show that it does not matter where you live, if you are willing to apply yourself you can achieve whatever you set out to do.

Daniel Lawson 2015 in London

Daniel Lawson 2015 in London

Daniel Lawson at Trafalgar square NYSF 2015

Daniel Lawson 2015 in London

Most people think that kids from a small country school are missing out … (but) his teachers work with him to supply him with challenging assignments

Most people think that kids from a small country school are missing out. Daniel attends Goomeri State School with approximately 110 students, situated 235 kilometres northwest of Brisbane. His teachers work with him to supply him with challenging assignments as he found class work relatively easy.

From what I can glean from photos received and the short messages I saw on Skype he had a great time in London and was very busy. We believe that this program will give him an opportunity to make friends from different countries and will provide him with a great base for travel and job opportunities in the future.

Daniel was selected as the Nanango District Youth Parliament Representative and has been busy working with other young members. He applied for this position, as he strongly believes that scientific research is important to Australia’s future and he hopes to make a difference.

He was also granted an RSL Academic Award of $5000, which helped fund his NYSF & LIYSF trips. Along with other young Queenslanders, he was presented with a certificate and plaque from Bond University on the Gold Coast in early March.

As parents, we did not quite grasp the importance and opportunity that the NYSF would provide for Daniel until we attended the orientation meeting in Brisbane where Rotary outlined what the program was about and how it helps those attending the two-week program in Canberra to consider their future study careers options. We believe that it has been beneficial in so many ways and the friends he is making along the way is an added bonus.”

Nicki Rossi, Proud Mum

Edited by Julie Maynard


Shivani Shah, NYSF Alumna, 2014 at UNSW Australia

Shivani Shah is an NYSF alumna (2014) from Sydney who is studying Advanced Science at UNSW Australia.

“The degree’s scope is excellent, it allows you to tailor your degree to what your interests are, especially as they keep changing as you learn more.

Going to uni is a lot different to high school; there is no one looking out for you

Going to uni is a lot different to high school; there is no one looking out for you, you choose when you want to go to class and if you want to go to class. It lets you become more mature and organised and you start to learn about who you are as a person.

A lot of NYSF friends joined me at UNSW, which has made the transition much easier. Since not many people from my school came with me, having people that I knew in my classes made it easier to adjust to uni.

Shivani Shah NYSF Alumna 2014 at UNSW

Shivani Shah                                       NYSF Alumna 2014 at UNSW

The way of life at UNSW is great, there is always something to do, whether it is involving yourself in all the clubs and societies – and yes, there is an NYSF Association at UNSW – playing in the sport teams, or even attending events held by the university. The student life at UNSW is very good, there is so many different options based on what interests you have. It’s a great way to meet friends and get involved.

It’s fair to say that UNSW wasn’t always where I had thought I wanted to go, but after attending the NYSF Sydney Next Step program, I started considering UNSW much more, which led me to my final decision of studying here. And I am so happy with my choice.”