Media release: Associate Professor Graham Hardy and Professor Shari Forbes speak at the National Science Teachers’ Summer School

We know that enthusiastic and committed teachers make a difference to Australian students studying science both in and beyond high school. Supporting teacher engagement is important to address the current high drop out rates from STEM subjects, particularly among female students.

The federal government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda released this month injected $48 million into improving science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education with the aim of increasing numbers of coding classes, training for teachers to teach digital technology, and boosting participation in STEM classes.

Australia’s Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb earlier this month endorsed the Education Council Report, National STEM School Education Strategy[1], which is an important step toward improving STEM skills of students by lifting the standard of STEM content in teacher education.[2]

For 10 years, the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) has been delivering the National Science Teachers Summer School (NSTSS) each January. The NSTSS aims to address issues of teacher engagement in a five-day residential program based at the Australian National University (ANU).

Running from 10–15 January 2016, the program aims to reignite teachers’ passion for science and to conduct a professional dialogue about teaching and learning, as well as exploring ways of engaging students in STEM.

The 2016 program has an exceptional line-up of speakers including two lectures by Associate Professor Graham Hardy from the University of South Australia who will share his research on Science as Human Endeavour: Exploring the Big Ideas, and Approaches of Teaching, covering how interdisciplinary inquiry can benefit STEM teaching.

His recent work includes a project on interdisciplinary learning in science and mathematics, and a second project focused on developing Inquiry Based Learning approaches and how to apply them in science and mathematics. He is now working on a Higher Education Priority Pool (HEPP) funded STEM project to support the development of pedagogical practice in low socioeconomic schools around Adelaide.

Professor Shari Forbes from The University of Technology Sydney and coordinator of Australia’s first body farm will also address the teachers, exploring her experience of the advantages and challenges of interdisciplinary research.

Please contact the NYSF communications team if you would like to interview Associate Professor Graham Hardy or Professor Shari Forbes.


Media enquires: Julie Maynard 0421 154 201,

[1] Education Council, (2015), National STEM School Education Strategy,

[2]Australia’s Chief Scientist, (2015) Media Release: Making STEM a priority in schools

From the CEO

Science and innovation seems to be everywhere in the news at the moment, with the delivery of the Commonwealth’s National Innovation and Science Agenda recently, which includes almost $50 million of funding for STEM education activities across the country.

We at the NYSF welcome this spotlight on our organisation’s focus – for more than thirty years we have been illustrating to young Australians the benefits of studying STEM subjects at a tertiary level, and the subsequent career opportunities that flow from that. What those careers might look like is up for grabs, which does mean it is a very exciting time.

More than 10,000 young people have been through the NYSF’s programs since 1984, and we look forward to exploring more opportunities to increase the impact of the work we do and offer a wider variety of experiences in the coming years.

Our alumni are our greatest ambassadors and we want to continue our engagement with them as they move through the program and on to tertiary study and interesting careers. If you are an NYSF/NSSS alumni, you can visit our Facebook page – NYSFoz. It has an alumni group and we encourage past participants to follow us and join the group, as well as registering on our database at to receive information and updates about the program. Contact us at if you need any assistance to do this.

At the moment, some 400 young people are preparing themselves to participate in NYSF 2016, and spend 12 fabulous days in January learning about their opportunities in STEM study and careers.

As we fine-tune our arrangements, with a refreshed program of visits and activities, and a well-prepared team of student staff leaders, I am certain that the NYSF experience will be just as transformative for this cohort as it has been for previous years.

We in the Corporate Team wish you all the best of the Season’s Greetings, and look forward to welcoming the NYSF 2016 students in the New Year.

Dr Damien Pearce

Speed date a scientist

Are you involved in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) field? Did you study a STEM degree and then use those skills to go on and work in a different field? Would you like to share your experiences with young people who are passionate about STEM?

Each January, The National Youth Science Forum brings 400 Year 12 students to Canberra for a 12-day immersive science experience. Students visit research labs and industry sites, hear from inspiring scientists, and participate in skill development workshops.

A key part of the January sessions is exposing students to the range of career paths available to those interested in STEM. In 2016, we would like to extend the opportunities for students to connect with “real life” professionals and researchers in an informal “speed dating” format.

What’s involved?

Informal discussions where students have the opportunity to ask you about your job, your research and how you got to where you are today.

Each of the 10-12 rotations lasts 5-7 minutes, with no more than eight students per rotation.


Two sessions will be held at the Australian National University in Canberra. You can come to one or both. Why not invite your colleagues to participate?

For more information or to register your interest, click on the website details below for each session.  Or you can download this flyer.

NYSF STEM speed dating poster

Session A:

Monday 11 January, 9:30am – 12pm

Session C:

Monday 25 January, 9:30am – 12pm

When is a Junket an unconference?

Often the greatest innovations are made when you’re surrounded by like-minded people. This is one of the key strategies of the National Youth Science Forum – to bring together young Australians who are passionate about STEM and help them to begin to build their professional networks.

In November this year, media website Junkee aimed to capture this spirit in their inaugural youth unconference, “Junket”. It brought some of Australia’s brightest minds to Canberra for three days, trying to tackle the issues facing the country’s future.

Junket pic Brody Hannah

Selected from a wide range of disciplines, the “Junketeers” were from all over the country, and from a huge range of cultures, religions, and sexual identities.

NYSF alumni, Mark McAnulty (2013) and Brody Hannan (2014), represented the Australian National University (ANU) at the conference.

The conference first kicked off with over 100 of the participants pitching some of their ideas around issues they were passionate about, ranging anywhere from tackling the aged-care crisis, funding science, stopping urban sprawl, as well as rebranding sexual health and fighting racism.

This was followed by the “F#ck Up Club”, where each participant was encouraged to discuss their personal and entrepreneurial failings. A common regret that many people had was not taking a risk and trying something new.

“The rest of the conference saw each of us pitch our own ideas that that we were passionate about,” says Brody, “anywhere from education, to indigenous health, climate change and science communication. These sessions gave Mark and me a chance to share our passions and ideas with others, as well as explore issues that we had never considered before.”

Another great touch to the conference was the “Telstra Elevator Pitch” – a real life elevator pitch at the conference venue. “We each had the time of an elevator ride to pitch an idea to a camera”, explains Brody, “with the best pitch winning a prize pack from Telstra.”

With the winner to be soon announced, the videos of the pitches can be seen through the Telstra Elevator Pitch website.

At the “human library”, participants could come and “borrow” a leader for their “story” to be told. From engineers, politicians, even the US Ambassador to Australia, there were many inspirational people to talk to about some of their great big ideas.

Mark says the greatest part of the conference was the opportunity to engage with the other participants, “from simple conversations at breakfast or dinner, to getting into a passionate debate over veganism, or the best way to tackle racism, every single person we met was inspiring, and most importantly, generous with their time. Since the conference we’ve started new ventures with other participants, been to meet-ups, and helped each other tackle issues that we each face in our local communities.”

“It was a very unique experience for Brody and me and we want to thank the ANU for giving us the opportunity to represent it at such a novel platform for exploring youth innovation.”

“If you want to change something around you, statistically, you will be far more successful if you work with others. The question to then ask is, ‘What idea will you share?’”

With plans for Junket 2016 already being made, for more information see the Junket homepage .

By Brody Hannan



The ANU’s Burgmann College says goodbye to Dr Phil

By Madeline Cooper

The support the NYSF receives from Burgmann College at the ANU year after year is invaluable, and helps to ensure we provide the best possible experience for the 400 students who visit Canberra in January. The staff at Burgmann do all they can to make sure that the NYSF runs smoothly, and none more so than the Principal, Dr Philip Dutton. He’s been a strong supporter of the program, and STEM study more generally, since the very beginning of his time at Burgmann.

Dr Dutton, or “Dr Phil” as he is known to Burgmann residents past and present, is retiring this December after ten years as Principal of Burgmann. I’ve known Phil from the beginning of his time at ANU – I was a Residential Tutor in his first year at Burgmann, and so had the privilege of working closely with him and his wonderful wife, Val. In the years since, Phil has been a great friend and mentor to me and to many people I know.

Phil and Val plan to enjoy their retirement in Wollongong with family, but I’m sure they’ll both find ways to maintain connections with Canberra, ANU, Burgmann College, and the NYSF. On behalf of NYSF, I thank them both for their support over the years and wish them well for the years ahead.

Ben Galea – one of many NYSF voices for the future

Ben Galea is an NYSF alumnus from Bundaberg in Queensland, now studying Development Studies and Science at The Australian National University. He attended the NYSF in 2013 and recently was selected to attend the Asia Pacific Voices of the Future 2015 program in Manila, The Philippines, held in conjunction with the November 2015 APEC conference. The Voices of the Future program is for delegates aged from 18-25 from the APEC member economies to participate in an independent youth leadership and educational diplomacy program.

At the summit, Ben took part in a wide range of activities with the other youth delegates, visited a Gawad Kalinga community farm, attended the CEO summit and the leaders summit and was able to talk face-to-face with some of the official delegates.

After the APEC program, Ben spent six days travelling in the Philippines, staying with a family in a southern province, and with students, lecturers and researchers from the University of the Philippines Los Banos (UPLB). On the last day of his visit, Ben talked to undergraduate students studying agriculture and sustainability science at UPLB. Starting off with stories from his own childhood in regional Queensland, Ben explained how his experience differed from the majority of young Australians who are often disconnected from the processes of growing and producing the food they consume and fibres they use every day.

Showing photos of the drought-stricken landscape in Western Queensland, and why some of the practices are unsustainable, was a very powerful tool in explaining the different farming practices in Australia. “Seeing sheep in a paddock of dirt just stands in stark contrast to the flooding that devastates the Philippines on a regular basis.”

Ben tied his presentation in to the recently agreed United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and specifically on SDG 12 – Sustainable Consumption and Production.

He says he wanted to explain the importance of innovation in agriculture – how farmers across the world are having to improve what they do to increase their yield and efficiency, and limit their resource use. “Some farmers in Australia still work the way their grandfathers did, because they have an attitude of, ‘it worked for them so it’ll work for us’. But the market has changed and so has the climate. They are needing to adapt to survive – and while change is coming, it concerns me that it is not fast enough.”

Ben Galea and other youth delegates at APEC Conf No 2015 Ben Galea at APEC Youth Summit IRRI Museum Ben Galea

Touring The Philippines Ben Galea

Ben also discussed the transformative Australian programs he had been able to participate in, such as the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) and the ABC’s Heywire program, and how there has been an increase in numbers of young people going on to study agriculture at a tertiary level in recent times.(1) “These are the areas that young people need to be considering for study because we will need to continue building knowledge and understanding.”

The opportunities we have in Australia are so valuable

It was in the discussion session after his presentation that Ben says he learned the most. “Many questions were of course about Australia, but I also was able to learn about the situation in The Philippines, and how political and psychological factors restrict innovation or change. Interestingly, there are many similarities and probably just as many differences between our countries and cultures.” But he says one comment really stood out;. “The opportunities we have in Australia are so valuable, through programs such as the NYSF and Heywire. There was a lot of support for similar opportunities to begin in The Philippines, particularly to improvements in the agricultural sector.”

Ben’s message to his co-delegates was that they had the capacity to start the process of innovation themselves and begin to make the change they want to see.


“Your NYSF friends are always there”

NYSF Alumna Bridgett Byrne (2013):

“Moving from Wangaratta to Melbourne was a big step but I was ready and prepared for it because of experiences like the National Youth Science Forum. My stay at Burgmann College and my time at The Australian National University with NYSF made the enormity of living on campus and attending university easier. Wherever you go, your NYSF friends are always there. University is no different. The transition from a high school student to university student was made easier by having friendly, familiar faces at my residential college and in my course.

Moving from Wangaratta to Melbourne was a big step but I was ready and prepared for it because of experiences like the National Youth Science Forum

Bridgette Byrne (right) on session in 2013

Bridgette Byrne (right) on session in 2013

I have always held a great interest in science. The NYSF is where my passion for science and leadership was set alight. As a participant, I learnt about the potential of science, now and into the future. It gave me the opportunity to meet some of Australia’s leaders in science and I listened intently to their research presentations. NYSF was really my first, and the best opportunity, to be exposed to the Australian science industry and establish it as a possible career path.

I knew by the middle of year 12 that I wanted to study science and Monash University was my first choice. Monash’s science course is structured in a way that allowed me to complete units in first year that are very broad and that cover a lot of areas of science. As I progressed, I was able to specialise more as I learned about my fundamental interests. Through this process, I have been able to study units within my chosen field of conservation and plant science – but I have also been able to complete additional units in sustainability, consumption, globalisation and climate change as electives. This has given me a really well rounded knowledge base.

I knew by the middle of year 12 that I wanted to study science and Monash University was my first choice.

Monash prides itself on providing students with great experiences that complement your studies. I have been involved in leadership programs, volunteer opportunities and science research. This gives students like me more than a degree. I now have practical knowledge and leadership skills to take with me into my career.

Unlike year 12, university is about establishing knowledge in your chosen field and using it to answer questions and solve problems – a skill every employer looks for in an employee regardless of the industry. At times it can be very challenging but it is always worthwhile in the end.

I am now in my second year of science and I am really happy with what I have achieved.

As a student from rural Victoria, I strongly encourage all rural students to consider university and living on campus. The people you meet, the friendships you form and the experiences you will have will stay with you for life.”

“It’s worthwhile taking the time to find what it is you like to do”

Alumna Rosie Sackett (2010) recalls her NYSF experience.

“The opportunity to attend the National Youth Science Forum was invaluable. To be surrounded by people from all backgrounds interested in different types of science was an experience I’ll never forget. NYSF students, staff and academics not only opened my eyes to the endless possibilities involved in the world of science, but inspired me to continue further studies in the field.

NYSF students, staff and academics not only opened my eyes to the endless possibilities involved in the world of science, but inspired me to continue further studies in the field.

Rosie Sackett, Alumna 2010

Rosie Sackett, Alumna 2010

Like many NYSFers, it wasn’t all about science. Whilst I knew it was something I wanted to pursue, it became a matter of exploring how I would do so. I enrolled in an Arts/Science degree at UNSW which was a logical choice allowing me to maintain a wide area of interests and at the same time, not limit my options to just science. Having grown up in Wagga Wagga New South Wales, and Arts/Science wasn’t a degree offered at our closest university, so the lure of the big city life led me to make the big move to New College at UNSW in Sydney.

To my surprise and delight, New College attracted many NYSF students so my experience with NYSF didn’t stop at the end of session or at the end of college. I have also enjoyed my continued involvement with the NYSF representing UNSW as a Science Ambassador speaking to students at Partners’ Day.

R - Rosie Sacket

Rosie Sacket (Right) UNSW Science Ambassador

To my surprise and delight, New College attracted many NYSF students so my experience with NYSF didn’t stop at the end of session or at the end of college

If I have learnt anything at university it’s that it’s worthwhile taking the time to find what it is you like to do. I’ve changed my degree to Commerce/Science with the hope of pursuing a career in science business, changed my major three times to end up studying Pathology/International Business and studied on exchange at the University of Edinburgh for a semester.

Whatever it is that you would like to do – whether it be involved in science or not – I think the NYSF teaches you that the possibilities are endless. It doesn’t matter if your path takes you from Wagga Wagga to Sydney to Edinburgh and back to work out what you want to do. But you’ll get there eventually and it will be worth it.”

We will welcome Rosie again in 2016, when she presents to NYSF students about UNSW at Partners’ Day.

“Engineers … use technology to provide tangible benefits”

Alumna Holstein Wong attended the NYSF in 2008 and is a Graduate Processing Engineer for BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) and also a Rotaract volunteer.

Holstein studied Materials Science and Engineering at UNSW and was awarded the University Medal and 1st Class Honours in Materials Science Engineering. She now works on a mine site for BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance in Central Queensland, a 1.5-hour flight (or 10 hour drive) from Brisbane. “Living residentially in a remote mining town has its challenges, and I never would have pictured this lifestyle even three years ago. Despite the distance, I’m an active volunteer for Rotaract Australia as the Public Relations and Marketing Director, and try to attend as many folk music festivals as I can in my time off!”

“Living residentially in a remote mining town has its challenges, and I never would have pictured this lifestyle even three years ago

Rotaract D9685

Rotaract D9685

Holstein recalls her time at the NYSF in 2008. “I had a fantastic time at NYSF mainly because of the energetic and inspiring people I met there. This impressed the importance of picking a university and course where I could continue to be surrounded by intelligent and enthusiastic peers and teachers.”

“I had a fantastic time at NYSF mainly because of the energetic and inspiring people I met there. This impressed the importance of picking a university and course where I could continue to be surrounded by intelligent and enthusiastic peers and teachers.”

“During Year 12 when I was choosing my university preferences, I looked at two main criteria – applicability to industry and the options to go on exchange.” She had thought about taking a gap year, but after attending the NYSF, realised there were ample opportunities to travel through university exchange and potential research internships overseas.

“UNSW was an attractive choice after looking at the university rankings for Engineering, as well as their strong industry links. I was drawn to Materials because the academics and alumni in this interdisciplinary field use technology to provide tangible benefits to society like biocompatible implants and recycling by-products from power generation. The close-knit community at Materials Science Engineering was another plus, although the school has grown significantly since my first year. In third year, I had the opportunity to go on exchange to Swansea University in Wales, and was one of the highlights of time at university.”

Holstein and UNSW Alumna Claire at Kara Mine, Tasmania

Holstein and UNSW Alumna Claire at Kara Mine, Tasmania

Holstein’s role as a Processing Engineer for BHP Billiton involves providing in-house consultation to production crews who operate the coal processing plant on a 24 hour, seven day roster, investigating opportunities to improve plant throughput, yield and utilisation, and identifying the investments to improve productivity in the long term.

“It’s a tough environment and I often draw on non-technical skills I developed at university. A valuable lesson I learnt is to always understand your work (whether it be research or implementation) in the context of what others around you are doing. The one constant across all my workplaces is that people can get really focused in their own bubble, and may not immediately see the benefit of collaboration. Complex problems need solutions resulting from partnerships across multiple disciplines, so being an effective communicator is key.

“Through experiences in frantic production environments, I’ve learnt how to engage people in our work and show how it will add value over the life of the mine.”

Calling NYSF/NSSS alumni

Did you attend the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) or the National Science Summer School?



We are always keen to hear from our alumni and to learn what you have been up to. There are also opportunities for you to engage with each year’s cohort of students through a range of activities, starting with the flagship NYSF January Sessions held in Canberra, and then with our follow up programs in different cities through the year.

The best way to keep up to date is to log onto our database at and register as an alumni member – if you need any information to do this, please email