From the CEO

NYSF Expression of Interests for January 2017 has now closed with the number of applications received being consistent with previous years. We are looking forward to working with our Rotary friends through the selection process for a new cohort of NYSF Session participants.

A few weeks ago, our Deputy Chair, Andrew Metcalfe, signed an agreement with the NYSF’s current host university, The Australian National University, here in Canberra. The security that this agreement offers to the organisation gives us more confidence in our future growth plans. I want to thank our ANU colleagues for their ongoing support – without which the NYSF could simply not operate.

Almost in concert with this agreement, we moved offices recently, after ten years at the Physics Building on campus at ANU. We have settled in nicely to our new rooms at the Leonard Huxley building – if you are on campus or visiting, make sure you drop by and say hello.

Our international programs began with the Canada-Wide Science Fair (CWSF), which was held in Montreal, Quebec. NYSF student ambassadors attended as representatives of Australian science, and were also invited to judge the fair’s projects to select the winner of the Australia Award. The prize for the winning entry is a place to participate in the NYSF 2017 January Sessions. In the coming months, students will head off to Goettingen, Boston, Singapore, Heidelberg, Manchester and London.

NYSF signs new MoA with the ANU

The National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) recently signed a new Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with The Australian National University (ANU), to host the NYSF and its activities until 2020.

NYSF Board Deputy Chair, Andrew Metcalfe AO said that the MoA cemented the existing strong and fruitful relationship between the NSYF and the ANU.

“The MoA allows for continued collaboration between our two organisations, offering young people from across Australia very unique access to the world-leading research and science facilities here at the ANU,” said Mr Metcalfe. “It also allows the NYSF Board to have more certainty for our operations, as we look to the organisation’s expansion in the coming years.”

Professor Kiaran Kirk, Dean of the ANU’s College of Medicine, Biology and Environment said, “NYSF has been associated with the ANU since it started in 1984, and the University as been hosting student visits here since then. The relationship with NYSF is an extremely important one for us. The NYSF office moved to be located on the ANU campus over ten years ago and we are delighted to have signed this agreement, committing to continuing the partnership for the next five years.”

We’ve moved

The NYSF moved to new accommodation in May to the Leonard Huxley Building at The Australian National University.

The new address is:

National Youth Science Forum
Leonard Huxley Building
56 Mills Road
(Street Access – Lower Ground Floor, via Garran Road)
The Australian National University
Acton ACT 2601

Our phone number remains the same – 02 6125 2777

Follow us on Facebook /NYSFoz

Twitter @NYSFoz

Instagram @NYSFoz

Science Teachers – hold the date for NSTSS2017

Science teachers considering applying for the NYSF’s National Science Teachers Summer School (NSTSS) 2017 should pencil in Monday 9 January – Friday 13 January 2017.

The NYSF has run the NSTSS for over ten years, and will again be collaborating with the ANU to deliver another quality program for teachers of science from across Australia.

The NSTSS is part of the NYSF’s suite of programs and coincides with the second week of Session A of the NYSF January Sessions. The synergies between the youth and teacher programs are obvious.

Teacher Mark O'Sullivan - NSTSS Program 2016 (Image: Geoff Burchfield)

Mark O’Sullivan – NSTSS Program 2016 (Image: Geoff Burchfield)

The program for NSTSS 2017 is still being developed, and will be released shortly. For a taste of what to expect, at NSTSS 2016 teacher participants:

  • Learned about the latest developments in science from world-leading researchers;
  • Visited first-class laboratories and teaching facilities at The Australian National University and other sites in Canberra and the region, including the CSIRO, the Tidbinbilla Deep Space Tracking Station and Geoscience Australia;
  • Toured the National Computational Infrastructure and saw up close the power and interactive nature of modern data manipulation methods and their applications;
  • Spent an evening looking at the stars at the ANU Mount Stromlo Observatory;
  • Learned how to bring science alive in the classroom with presentations and interactive workshops on a range of STEM topics;
  • Participated in a live cross to the CERN Large Hadron Collider and learned about the ground breaking research happening at that international facility;
  • Networked with like-minded peers; and
  • Interacted with 200 of Australia’s leading science students, participating in the National Youth Science Forum 2016.

Previous participants have reported:

“I (now) feel confident to inspire my students into the fields of science and engineering. There are so many opportunities out there and it is our role to ensure they are exposed to these fields.”

“I experienced the thrill of science and was exposed to cutting edge, real science and it was exciting. It enriched my teaching of science, giving me experiences to enrich my classroom teaching.”

The NSTSS 2016 program can be viewed here. To receive information about when applications open, please email

News from UNSW

UNSW Women In Engineering Camp 

Are you a young woman currently in Year 10 or 11 and want a career where you can be at the forefront of positive change for society? Do you enjoy using lateral thinking, creativity and design? Or do you love problem-solving, working in teams or have an aptitude for mathematics and science?

UNSW Women in Engineering Camp

UNSW Women in Engineering Camp

Join us for a five-day camp and find out about the exciting careers available to professional engineers. The next camp will run Monday 9 to Friday 13 January 2017.

Applications for the 2017 camp open on 1 July 2016 and close on 25 September 2016.

For more information, visit UNSW Women in Engineering Camp event website.

Taste of Electrical Engineering 

Do you love solving problems?

UNSW Engineering is offering a three-day workshop for Year 10 and 11 students with an aptitude for mathematics, a passion for science and a love of problem solving.

UNSW Electrical Workshop

UNSW Electrical Workshop

The workshops will include:

Engineering design challenges and an introduction to the basics of electrical engineering disciplines; such as signal processing, electronics design, computer programming, and power, control and telecommunications systems.

Tours of the school facilities, including the photonics, high voltage and educational laboratories, and a field trip to an industrial organisation providing insight into the importance of complex electrical and electronic systems in everyday life.

When: 26th – 28th September 2016 (3 days)

Where: School of Electrical Engineering & Telecommunications, UNSW.

Cost: $125

To register your interest, visit the UNSW Engineering event website.


What can a Rotarian learn from the NYSF?

Danny Mattsson recalls his NYSF experience 

Danny Mattsson is a Charter Member of Rotary Club of Hervey Bay Sunrise (District 9570) and has served as the NYSF area co-ordinator for that part of Queensland for the past seven years. As if that wasn’t enough, in 2015 and 2016, Danny supported the NYSF in a different way, by volunteering as a Rotary Uncle, and then as Rotary Dad. This experience gave him a first-hand taste of the program, its operations, and the value for the student participants.

Rotary District 9570 covers a large area of Central Queensland with NYSF selections performed through four centres within the District to reduce the need for student applicants to travel long distances. “One advantage of this process is that there are a lot more Rotarians involved in the selection process and everyone has a great time meeting such a worthy group of applicants.”

Danny (left) with NYSF participants visiting the Murray-Darling Basin Authority 2015

Danny (left) with NYSF participants visiting the Murray-Darling Basin Authority 2015

For Danny, the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) has always been a passion of his. “It has been amazing to see the student grow, from their initial discussions with the Rotary Club before they attend the January Sessions, through to seeing a totally changed person return to the club to talk about their experience some months later.”

As part of his involvement in the NYSF, Danny attended the NYSF District Chair conference in Melbourne in 2014. “As part of that event, we met with the NYSF corporate team and NYSF Rotary District Chairs, getting to know them and the program. Most importantly this session was about seeing the challenges of running the NYSF from a management perspective.”

In January 2015, Danny travelled to Canberra as an Uncle for the first week of Session A. “What a blast! Full on from the moment the first busload of students arrived. We were on call for 200 students plus the “Staffies” (student staff leaders) who run the program – providing pastoral care, general first aid and other day to day activities that a parent, or aunt or uncle might provide. It was a privilege to have the opportunity to interact with participants.”

Danny says he was particularly impressed by the student staff leaders and the role that they play in delivering the NYSF program. “Staffies are NYSF alumni who volunteer their time and undergo training throughout their year 12, for their role as leaders and role models for the students. All staffies have to be congratulated because they give up a significant amount of time during the year to be trained and then spend over two weeks of their summer holidays to help manage the operation and keep the students on track.”

Danny returned for the 2016 program, as a Rotary Dad along with a group of other adult volunteers for Session A. “The two weeks flew by, with lab and industry site visits, lectures and workshops all based around STEM activities. The experience overall was fantastic – from working with everyone in the NYSF corporate team to the Staffies, students, and our team of Aunts, Uncles, Mums and Dads.

“As a Rotarian, the biggest thing for me was seeing the 200 students develop from the initial discussion at selections, through the course of the two weeks – it really was something to behold. At the end of the experience, I think everyone matures. For student participants, they leave with a greater understanding of the direction and pathway they wish to follow. For us, the volunteers, we are left with a sense of knowing and understanding that our future and that of generations to follow will be in better hands.”

GSK inspiring the next generation of scientists

With much of the world’s future innovation to come from science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), it is important that the innovators of tomorrow are supported and mentored.

The funding partners of the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) play an important role in supporting the organisation and the programs it delivers.

GSK Australia has provided funding support for the NYSF over several years.


GSK’s David Herd, Director of Healthcare Environment talks to NYSF participants

In 2015, GSK’s David Herd, Director of Healthcare Environment, presented to the NYSF participants as part of the Partners’ Day activities. His presentation made an impact on one of the students, Nikita Bungay from Victoria. Now studying at Monash University’s Science Advanced Global Challenges program, and as part of her studies, Nikita needed to interview someone who inspired her; she decided to reach out to David.

“One of the greatest experiences I had was at the NYSF Partners’ Day, where I heard David talk about what had inspired him, and how his company reaches out to the broader world through their work. His talk motivated me to do something which would also make a difference, and that is why I chose my course, which I am confident will help me to achieve this goal,” Nikita said.

NYSF CEO, Dr Damien Pearce highlights this as an example of the ways that the NYSF’s funding partners go that extra mile in supporting the organisation and its programs. “Organisations such as GSK really understand the kind of support that our young people need, and are willing to provide.”

GSK Australia is proud to regularly host tours for NYSF students during the Melbourne Next Step program. They visit its Boronia manufacturing facility in Victoria and see how life-saving medications are made; in 2016, they will see GSK Australia’s new and innovative blow-fill-seal vaccine technology.

Since 2012, over 150 school students have toured GSK Australia’s facilities.

“These site tours contribute to what makes the NYSF unique for Australian STEM students,” said Dr Pearce, “and our corporate partners are key to our and the program’s success. Having access to view the kinds of innovations made in industry all of the time contribute to inspiring our young people.”

Astronomical teaching and learning facility for ACT

A new and unique astronomical teaching and learning facility for year 9-12 students in the ACT is moving closer to completion.

The McNamara-Saunders Astronomical Teaching Telescope (MSATT) will allow high school students to undertake extended student-centred projects in astronomy and astrophysics.  A cooperative project made possible through private donors, the ACT Education Directorate and The Australian National University, the teaching telescope is being built at the Mount Stromlo Observatory.

Work begins at MSATT

Work begins at MSATT

ACT high school science teacher, Geoff McNamara from Melrose High School, has driven the establishment of the facility, doing everything from fundraising to design, to building of the facility and the creation of the educational projects.

Geoff said that the telescope project grew from the activities of the ACE Science Mentors program at Melrose High School, in which students are partnered with experts in different fields of science. Operating for over six years, the students doing the ACE program have covered everything from genetics to rocketry, physics to entomology. “Students undertake six-month projects that are based on data they’ve accumulated through experimentation, and culminates in a formal, refereed report.”

“I was frustrated that such a project was not possible in astronomy other than using second hand data, or at best, data that had been obtained remotely. MSATT will change all of that by allowing students to gather their own astronomical data, analyse it, determine the level of confidence, and draw conclusions.”

The MSATT facility will be available to any ACT public school student in Years 9 to 12. They’ll need to demonstrate that they’re prepared to undertake sufficient observing sessions to gather enough data enabling a thorough investigation.

 The initial funding was from local scientist, Dr Denis Saunders and his wife, Mrs Vee Saunders who contributed $35 000 to establish the facility. Geoff is contributing his own astronomical equipment at around $10 000 value, plus teaching, of course! Geoff said, “Since that initial donation, others have come on board realising that this facility exists for one purpose: teaching. Everything from the data and electrical cabling, the site, new equipment, even the concrete, have all been contributed for free.”

Geoff estimates that the facility’s current value is around $75 000. It should be operational in time for the NYSF 2017 programs.

Geoff McNamara is the 2014 winner of the Prime Minister’s Prize for Secondary Science Teaching and has also presented to the NYSF’s National Science Teachers Summer School in 2015 and 2016.

CSL celebrates 100 years

National Youth Science Forums (NYSF) partner CSL, Australia’s largest biotechnology company celebrated 100 years of operation in April 2016.

This iconic Australian company has a proud history of pharmaceutical and health product development in Australia, including the manufacture of vaccines, insulin and anti-venoms.

Six NYSF alumni are featured in this inspiring video released in conjunction with the celebrations – thanks Tayla, Meg, Kushani, Michael, Lachlan, and Charlie for agreeing to be involved. We are proud of all of our alumni, and thank them for representing the organisation on this occasion.


Science meets Business 2016

Science and Technology Australia’s (STA) next Science in Business forum will be held in Melbourne in October 2016.

The aim of the Science meets Business event is to bring together business leaders and scientists to foster STEM industry collaboration, to broker better mutual understanding between science and business and to promote opportunities for innovation.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Professor Ian Chubb AC, former Chief Scientist for Australia
  • Professor Aidan Byrne, CEO, Australian Research Council
  • Professor Anne Kelso AO, CEO, National Health and Medical Research Council
  • Dr Jackie Fairley, CEO, Starpharma, and Commonwealth Science Council member
  • Dr Hugh Bradlow, Chief Scientist, Telstra
  • Professor Jane den Hollander, Vice-Chancellor, Deakin University
  • Dr Katherine Woodthorpe, Chair, Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre, and company director
  • Dr Bronwyn Evans, Chair, Industry Growth Centre for Medical Technologies and Pharmaceuticals
  • Professor Beth Webster, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Policy and Impact) and Director, Centre for Transformative Innovation, Swinburne University of Technology
  • Ms Elizabeth Lewis-Gray, Chair, Industry Growth Centre for Mining Equipment, Technology and Services

More information will be available on the Science and Technology Australia website in coming weeks.