University of Queensland News – undergrad biomed/tsunami science/MOOCs

University of Queensland now offering more undergraduate program options in biomedical science

Biomedical scientists provide the foundation of modern healthcare, and in 2017 you will have more ways to study biomedical science at UQ than ever before. In addition to our flagship three-year Bachelor of Science program (majoring in Biomedical Science), UQ now offers three new biomedical study options:

  • Bachelor of Biomedical Science (3 years)
  • Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) majoring in Biomedical Science (4 years)
  • Bachelor of Biomedical Science/Bachelor of Science dual program (4 years).

The Bachelor of Science (majoring in Biomedical Science) and the Bachelor of Biomedical Science are ideal for those seeking a career in biomedical science, or a pathway to medicine and other allied health programs. The Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours) majoring in Biomedical Science is a great choice for people considering a research career, and an excellent option for students interested in clinical research.

Visit the website for more details.

SCIENCE TEACHERS: Participate online in live events with earthquake and tsunami researchers

Does your school want to access leading scientific opinions about the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Indian Ocean communities in 2004, killing more than 250,000 people?

University of Queensland PhD candidate Sarah Kachovich from the School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management and scientific colleagues from around the world will take part in a live video broadcast about the Sumatra Seismogenic Zone with school teachers and their students over the next few months.

“We will take groups on tours via live video, and handle questions and answers about our work,” said Sarah.

“We will also be blogging our findings through the Joides Resolution website so students can individually follow our research in live time. This is also the portal for live chats if teachers are interested.”

School groups and teachers wishing to take part in live video broadcasts can fill out a request form or visit Joides Resolution website.

BrisScience: Is science any use for saving species and habitat?

 Watch our latest BrisScience recording about how optimisation can be used as a framework to make the tough decisions for environmental conservation.

You can subscribe to the BrisScience mailing list to be notified about upcoming events, or watch video recordings from past events through our website.

Immerse yourself in science with SPARQ-ed

Year 10, 11 and 12 students are invited to apply for the SPARQ-ed research immersion program. You can assist researchers at UQ’s Diamantina Institute on real research projects during the holiday break.  Find out more and apply at www.di.uq.edu.au/sparqed-rip

Students participating in the research immersion programs can opt to complete an additional assessment piece which can earn them a point under the University of Queensland’s Bonus Ranks Scheme.

Schools can also apply for a SPARQ-ed Cell and Molecular Biology Experience. These half to two day programs provide senior secondary students an opportunity to explore concepts and use techniques not normally covered in a school laboratory. Find out more and apply at www.di.uq.edu.au/sparqsingle

TROPIC101x Tropical Coastal Ecosystems MOOC

Do you want to develop the skills and knowledge needed to help preserve tropical coastal ecosystems? These habitats provide goods and services for hundreds of millions of people but human activities have led to their global decline. TROPIC101x will introduce you to the incredible plants and animals that create these unique ecosystems.

THINK101x The Science of Everyday Thinking MOOC

 Explore the psychology of our everyday thinking: why people believe weird things, how we form and change our opinions, why our expectations skew our judgments, and how we can make better decisions. You will use the scientific method to evaluate claims, make sense of evidence, and understand why we so often make irrational choices. You will begin to rely on slow, effortful, deliberative, analytic, and logical thinking rather than fast, automatic, instinctive, emotional, and stereotypical thinking.

 

News from The University of Queensland

Future Students Contact Centre

For many future students, University can seem like a different world with a different language. The Future Student Contact Centre combines friendly service with helpful information on UQ programs, study options and applications.

Chat with us live

Our friendly student advisors are waiting to chat with you about study and life at UQ.

Visit us at www.uq.edu.au/ask.

Give us a call

Call our dedicated call centre team or book a call back for support and advice.

Phone: (07) 3346 9872

Ask us a question

Email us your query and receive helpful advice about study and life at UQ – ask@uq.edu.au

For information, contact:

Linda Edwards

Phone: (07) 3346 8196

Email: l.edwards2@uq.edu.au

Web: https://future-students.uq.edu.au/

UQL Cyberschool – Library services for secondary schools

UQL Cyberschool is a free service for secondary schools, run by The University of Queensland Library.

For Students:

  • FREE borrowing of books – Year 11 and 12 students who live in Brisbane can join the UQ Library and borrow books
  • Links to free online resources are available from our website for most senior secondary subjects:

For information, contact:

Diane Nibbs

Phone: (07) 3365 6064

Email: cyberschool@library.uq.edu.au

Web: http://www.library.uq.edu.au/schools

BrisScience

When: 11th July

Is science any use for saving species and habitat? Environmental conservation is a big challenge facing our planet. Isn’t it time to stand up and take action, rather than do more research? Why shouldn’t we just use the knowledge we already have to save threatened species?

This month we discuss the value of monitoring and information for achieving nature conservation outcomes. Is some research more useful than others, and should utility factor into decisions about research funding?

Join us as Professor Hugh Possingham, now chief scientist for the Nature Conservancy, the world’s largest conservation group, looks at how optimisation can be used as a framework to make the tough decisions.

For information, contact:

Leonie Small

Phone: (07) 3365 6455

Email: science.events@uq.edu.au

Web: https://brisscience.wordpress.com/2016/06/09/is-science-any-use-for-saving-species-and-habitat/

Experience Science – Last few places left

When: 15 July 2016

Experience Science is a free event which provides students in Years 10 – 12 the opportunity to discover what studying science is like at UQ and how science is applied in industry and everyday life.

The event is facilitated by experts from UQ and industry through a series of hands-on, interactive science workshops. All workshops are held at the UQ St Lucia campus.

For information, contact:

Experience Science Team

Phone: (07) 3365 6455

Email: science.events@uq.edu.au

Web: http://www.science.uq.edu.au/expsci

UQ Geography and Environment Day

When: Friday 22 July 2016

Where can studies in geography, planning and environmental management take you?

The UQ Geography and Environment Day is designed for high school students to experience the applications and relevance of geography, planning and environmental management and see how studying these subjects can lead to a career with real world impact.

Sign up to the mailing list at the link below to be contacted when places open for the 2016 event.

For information, contact:

Science Events

Phone: (07) 3365 6455

Email: science.events@uq.edu.au

Web: https://www.gpem.uq.edu.au/geography-day

You’re invited to UQ’s Open Days in August

Your students will discover a world of exceptional opportunities at UQ’s Open Days. Students can explore the campus and world-class facilities, learn about the range of programs and courses, receive personalised advice about study options, and get a feel for how great uni life can be.

  • St Lucia – Sunday, 7 August, 9.00am – 3.00pm
  • Gatton – Sunday, 21 August, 9.30am – 3.00pm

For information, contact:

Jessica Glass

Phone: (07) 3365 1535

Email: openday@uq.edu.au

Web: https://future-students.uq.edu.au/open-day

WE Explore Engineering Regional Schools

Are you an engineer of the future? Join us at UQ St Lucia and be inspired by engineering’s possibilities!

UQ’s Women in Engineering program is thrilled to offer students living outside of Brisbane the opportunity to come to UQ St Lucia and see if engineering could be the career for you.

If you’re in year 10, 11 or 12 and love maths or science but you’re not sure how it applies to a career, this is the event not to be missed.

We will provide return transport to Brisbane from six pick-up locations – Warwick, Toowoomba, Bundaberg, Torbanlea, Maryborough and Gympie.

Please note there will be one pick-up point in each town that you will need to make your way to.

Program

Thursday 21 July 2016

You’ll arrive to UQ St Lucia by 3pm and attend Engineering Futures Evening from 4:30pm-7:00pm. Be inspired as you hear about the journeys of female engineers from:

  • Google – Anna Emmerson
  • Boeing – Rhianna Ferguson
  • Cochlear – Samantha Lichter
  • Australian Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology – Claudia Vickers

Enjoy dinner and stay overnight in either The Women’s College or Duchesne College, located within the UQ St Lucia campus.

Friday 22 July 2016

After breakfast, you’ll attend WE Explore Engineering Day from 8:15am-2:00pm and tackle three of our hands-on engineering workshops to discover why engineers are society’s problem solvers.

From rockets to programming robots to developing a prosthetic limb, you’ll get great insight into the many fields engineers work in. You’ll be able to select the workshops that interest you.

Buses will depart UQ St Lucia shortly after 2:00pm and return to the six pick-up locations. You will need to be picked up from the pick-up location by your parent/guardian.

Cost

The cost to attend WE Explore Engineering Regional Schools is $50 per person. This includes return transport to Brisbane (from pick-up locations), accommodation, meals and activities.

We do have bursaries available for students in financial need – please email us for further information.

Check out the photos from this year’s WE Explore Engineering Day and last year’s Engineering Futures Evening on our Facebook page!

For further information, please contact:

UQ Women in Engineering – we@eait.uq.edu.au

When: Thursday, 21 July, 2016 to Friday, 22 July, 2016

Where: Advanced Engineering Building, Staff House Road, UQ St Lucia

Overnight accommodation in either The Women’s College or Duchesne College, College Road, UQ St Lucia

Registrations: Register by Friday 15 July

Engineering Futures Evening

Whether the seed to study engineering was planted by a teacher, parent, family friend or someone unexpected, every journey is a little different.

If you’re in year 10, 11 or 12 and love maths or science, come along to discover if engineering could be the career for you.

Be inspired by the journeys of female engineers from Google, Boeing, Cochlear and the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN). One of the speakers just may help you to decide your future path.

  • Anna Emmerson, Site Reliability Engineer – Google
  • Rhianna Ferguson, Avionics Engineer – Boeing
  • Samantha Lichter, New Product Industrialisation Engineer/ProcessEngineer – Cochlear
  • Claudia Vickers, Senior Research Fellow – AIBN

You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions and then over a light dinner, speak with students and industry representatives at our industry booths. Students, parents and teachers are welcome to attend.

Engineering Futures Evening for regional students

Registrations are now open!

If you live in Warwick, Toowoomba, Bundaberg or Gympie, we will be arranging transport to/from UQ St Lucia campus so you can come along to Engineering Futures Evening on Thursday 21 July, stay overnight on campus and attend WE Explore Engineering Day on Friday 22 July.

Enquiries

For further information, please contact: UQ Women in Engineering – we@eait.uq.edu.au

“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.”

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

Say yes to opportunity

If you’d told young Liesl Folks at the 1984 inaugural NSSS (National Science Summer School) that one day she’d be the Dean of Engineering and Applied Sciences at a major American university she wouldn’t have believed you. It certainly wasn’t part of the plan. There wasn’t one. “I’ve never had plans or expectations. I live in the moment. I have this mantra. You have to remember to say ‘yes’ to opportunity.”

Before I went to the Summer School I’d been thinking about doing chemistry but seeing the accelerator changed my mind. 

Portrait of Engineering Dean Liesl Folks Photograph: Douglas Levere

  Liesl Folks
Photograph: Douglas Levere

 

When Liesl was headhunted for the top job in engineering at the University at Buffalo (UB) it was a real surprise. “I kept saying you’re crazy. Why would they even want me?”

There were many good reasons. It wasn’t just her international reputation in the fields of nanotech and magnetism that elevated her above nearly 60 other candidates from around the world. Over time Liesl has acquired a diverse mix of industry and academic experience and built wide-ranging connections through government agencies, advisory panels and educational initiatives.

Her present trajectory actually began years before at the NSSS when the Perth native came to Canberra and visited the nuclear accelerator at the Australian National University (ANU). “Before I went to the Summer School I’d been thinking about doing chemistry but seeing the accelerator changed my mind.” She was staggered not only by the raw power of the machine but also by the possibility of experimenting with sub-atomic forces.

Liesl went on to study physics (with honours) at the University of Western Australia and then completed a PhD there on permanent magnetic materials because “she had no other plans”. She credits her supervisor, Prof Robert Street AO, with providing tremendous guidance at this time that still resonates for her decades later. When she was invited to work on nanoparticle arrays at IBM’s Almaden Research Center in California in 1998 she thought it would be just a two-year stint. She ended up staying in Silicon Valley for 15 years working in the hard disc drive business with both giants of the industry, IBM and Hitachi.

The industry is marked by being incredibly multi-disciplinary. You can’t make a hard disc drive unless you’ve got physics, chemistry, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, and computer engineering all lined up

“The industry is marked by being incredibly multi-disciplinary. You can’t make a hard disc drive unless you’ve got physics, chemistry, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science, and computer engineering all lined up. The complexity of the technology is keeping other players from entering the game. It’s a very thrilling industry in terms of how fast the technology evolves and the many different disciplines that have to be at the table to make products that work.”

After six highly productive years as a researcher with IBM, in 2008 Liesl moved to Hitachi and led the development and delivery to the marketplace of advanced new media technologies. Today she holds 14 US patents and is the frequently cited author of dozens of peer-reviewed research papers.

Her academic position in Engineering and Applied Sciences at UB does mean leaving all those bright, shiny machines behind, but it sounds as if Buffalo has plenty to offer. The historic city is going through something of a boom with millions invested and generous tax benefits for new start-up companies within a mile of the university. And with Niagara Falls hydro just up the road energy is cheap. The University has had a huge uptake in students wanting a place in its Engineering program. Liesl has a new set of goals and top of the list is increasing the percentage of women studying engineering. It’s currently hovering around the 20 per cent mark.

“It’s infuriating,” she says, “because every employer I talk to is desperate to improve their diversity statistics but they can’t actually get their claws into enough people to hire. There’s no issue with aptitude. It’s all about culture. Somehow, culturally within the US it’s just not acceptable for women who are bright and otherwise talented to do engineering. It’s the same in Australia.”

But Liesl has a plan to market engineering differentially. She’s currently trialling two streams of promotional information at a Buffalo high school and is hopeful that one of these will create more interest among females. She’s also a strong advocate of girls-only schools such as Penrhos Ladies College in Perth that she attended. “I think they offer girls a huge advantage,” she says “No one’s going to dissuade them from doing physics, chemistry, and maths because somebody has to be in those classes with those teachers.”

She also sees the role of programs like the NYSF where students get to see an engineering operation or meet a scientist in the laboratory as absolutely critical. “I think it’s almost a universal truth that no one ends up in engineering without having one of those experiences. If you don’t open those labs up, and get those students in there to see what you’re doing you won’t get them to follow that trajectory”

As for this latest twist in her own life Liesl now seems right in her element.

“It’s been quite the change but in a good way. I love the fact that I go from working with a fantastic faculty, dealing with marvellous students, and hearing from alumni who all have these interesting stories and have grown great businesses. And just being back in a university community is fabulous too. You know you’re interacting all the time with humanities, social sciences, medical sciences, whatever… just the diversity of things I get to do every day is very stimulating. I’m very happy.”

Story by Geoff Burchfield

Liesl Folks

Liesl Folks

Engineers R Us

A popular lab visit for Session A NYSF 2015 students was to Lockheed Martin Australia’s NexGen Cyber Innovation & Technology Centre in Canberra.  As a company that earns $US46 billion dollars annually, Lockheed Martin’s interests include aeronautics, information systems, mission systems and training, missiles & fire control, production, and space systems.

On entering the secure facility, the visit hosts explained to the students the logistical and corporate reach of both Lockheed Martin Australia and Lockheed Martin International.

When the students learned that 70,000 of Lockheed Martin’s employees were engineers (approximately 70% of their workforce), questions increased exponentially as they realised the areas of opportunity for employment within Lockheed Martin. True to the inquisitive nature of NYSF students, there were also many questions about Lockheed Martin’s operations and businesses both in Australia and internationally.

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

???????????????????????????????

The students were able to explore some of the capabilities of Lockheed Martin by doing problem-solving activities mimicking those that the company’s customers might present.

They all agreed that the visit was engaging and informative, offering a chance to learn about the numerous possibilities available in one corporate field of engineering.  This also emphasised the sheer magnitude of career possibilities in engineering with exciting and challenging decisions to be made in the future.

By Brett Slarks

 

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

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/national-youth-science-forum-encourages-more-students-into-science-technology-engineering-and-mathematics-20150102-12cums.html

Announcement of major new funding partner of the NYSF

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/lockheed-martin-australia-announced-as-major-sponsor-of-national-youth-science-forum-20150121-12u1gw.html

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

(article behind paywall – search for News.com.au 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

http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/national-science-forum-science-students-and-teachers-sharpen-skills-in-summer-20150115-12r6zo.html

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

 

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 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.”

Access free interactive teacher resources on river health

Are you teaching a unit on river health this year? The Murray-Darling Basin Authority has a free interactive program – Basin Champions 2015 – designed for students from years 3 through to year 10.

The goal of the program is for students to learn about

  • The rivers of the Murray-Darling Basin
  • Human impacts on the natural environment
  • Working collaboratively with peers
  • How to investigate river health
  • Effective communication strategies.

Basin Champions combines videoconferencing with an in-class investigation in which students look at the health of a river or creek near their school. Through the Basin Champions, students can learn about the importance of healthy rivers for communities, the economy, and the precious environments of the Basin.

The program runs in terms 2 and 3, with a final video-conference in term 4. To celebrate World Water Day, the program will kick off with a live-streamed video-conference on 23 March. Schools that register early will be invited to take part in this special event.

The time you allocate to the program is flexible, you can join the program throughout terms 2 and 3, and your class can complete the program in as little as one (very busy) wekk or as long as the two terms.

Teachers will receive a pack containing lesson plans, worksheets and basic water testing equipment as well as technical guidance and phone and email assistance as needed.

The program is provided free as a partnership program between the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and classroom teachers. The Murray-Darling Basin Authority is a funding partner of the National Youth Science Forum, and also hosts lab visits for students during the NYSF January sessions and Next Step programs.

Further information is available by emailing education@mdba.gov.au, and you can register online at basinchampions2015.eventbrite.com.au