From the CEO

Here at the NYSF we are well into planning and preparation mode. Preparations for STEM Explorer, running in Adelaide from 17-21 July are well in hand with all agreements finalised and a strong relationship now established with the South Australian Department for Education and Child Development (SA DECD). This focus on a younger age group is an important development for the NYSF, as the engagement of young people in STEM activities, with positive role models, is vital for our futures.

In preparation for the third session of the NYSF Year 12 Program to run at the University of Queensland next January, I was recently in Brisbane and enjoyed meeting with the current and incoming Rotary District Governors, all of whom are greatly pleased by the opportunity to welcome the NYSF to their home turf and willing to offer all the support that they can. We are all excited about the new opportunities this new location will offer us, in the form of the specialised research institutes, STEM based organisations and other centres that are unique to the Brisbane STEM landscape.

Botany & Pond dipping at NYSF, Australian National Botanic Gardens

To help with the NYSF’s expanding repertoire of programs, I am very pleased to welcome two new staff members to the team. Ellen and Mizaan have joined us as Program Officers and both bring sound skills and experience to the team. Fortunately, Ellen and Mizaan were also able to join us for an afternoon tea held in April, which the NYSF hosted as a thank you to the NYSF 2017 Year 12 lab visit providers, partners and other supporters who offered their time and enthusiasm to help run lectures, tours, workshops and more in January.

Since opening on 1 March, I’ve been pleased to see a steady flow of applications for the NYSF 2018 Year 12 Program coming in. The closing date of 31 May (midnight AEST) is fast approaching and I encourage interested applicants to apply soon as there are several steps involved which all need to be completed by the deadline. I also strongly encourage applicants to read about and apply for the new Equity Scholarship available this year.

Applications for NYSF 2018 closing 31 May

Applications to attend the NYSF 2018 Year 12 Program will be closing in less than a month on 31 May 2017. If you would like to apply, we encourage you to start sooner rather than later as there are several steps to the application process.

As mentioned there will be an additional 200 places available in 2018 thanks to a third session running in Brisbane at the University of Queensland.

For more information on how to apply please visit our website.

We also encourage you to read about and apply for an Equity Scholarship, giving those eligible a $1,000 discount on the fees for the program.

 

 

Involving alumni in NYSF Next Step events

Nate Byrne, NYSF alumnus (NYSF 2001) and newly-minted TV breakfast meteorologist – yes, the weather guy – from ABC News Breakfast, was the keynote speaker at the NYSF Next Step Melbourne alumni event in March.

In the first of two alumni events supported by IP Australia in 2017, and hosted by The University of Melbourne, this was an opportunity for the NYSF 2017 cohort to mix with previous years’ alumni and share stories about their study and career choices. It was exciting that all of our guest speakers were NYSF alumni; the first  was Dr Melanie O’Byrne, (NYSF (NSSS) 1994), who is Assistant Director, Governance Secretariat at IP Australia.

Mel explained how her own science research and science communication study gave her a variety of opportunities leading to her role today managing IP Australia’s key governance committees. Mel identified advice from Marie Curie’s grand-daughter, and the opportunity to work as a science journalism intern for New Scientist in the UK as key turning points in her career to date. Her story was one of following passions and saying yes – a great lesson for the other NYSF alumni. Mel also talked about her role as a physics patent examiner at IP Australia, and the organisation’s importance in administering IP rights and legislation relating to patents, trade marks, designs and plant breeder’s rights, and the need for scientists and engineers to be involved in those services to industry and the community.

Mel said she jumped at the opportunity to speak to the NYSF alumni. “It was a wonderful chance to highlight the many doors that tertiary studies in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) can open for young, talented Australians,” Mel said. “When I came to Canberra as a high-school student in 1994, intellectual property was not on my radar. I didn’t understand its importance to our economy, the role it plays in securing Australia’s future as a global leader in science and technology, or the career opportunities at IP Australia.  To continue to have a world leading IP system our workforce needs people who are passionate about the business of innovation and the commercialisation of Australia’s research.”

Nate Byrne didn’t run away to join the circus, but without doubt, the skills he developed as a Science Circus presenter through the Australian National University’s Master of Science Communication Outreach built on his undergrad physics degree and meteorologist qualifications to support his new role as the breakfast TV news weather presenter on the ABC. Nate’s weather reports are full of interesting explanations about the weather patterns around the country, illustrating his love for explaining the science. And he brought that passion along, as well as his bag of science tricks – but the NYSF audience needed little convincing of the fun and importance of science in their daily lives.

“It never takes much to get an NYSF crowd engaged,” said Nate, “and the students are great communicators themselves.”

“Add in the need to be flexible and courageous in career choices, and NYSF-ers are better positioned than many for the careers of the future.”

“Those skills are becoming more and more important in STEM – not just being able to do great science, but also being an advocate and a rational voice in a quickly changing world.”

“Keeping in mind that we are naturally curious and that even simple science can be full of surprises, engaging people isn’t as hard as some might think.”

Dr Catherine Wheller (NYSF 2008) was special guest MC of the event, and along with Tayla McKechnie (NYSF 2010) and Amelia Wales (NYSF 2010), offered some briefer insights into their key decisions about study and careers since attending the NYSF, and finishing studies.

The event was regarded highly by the NYSF 2017 cohort, with positive feedback.

“I could see the pathways that other students have taken, and ask advice about their uni experience … Nate’s advice was to learn where a science degree can take you.”

“All of the speakers were very informative and engaging as they told us of their lives after NYSF, or within and leading up to their current career.”

Previous years’ alumni reported that they valued the opportunity to mix with other years’ NYSF participants.

“It was fantastic to hear from a number of diverse alumni who have taken different career paths but all share a common opinion that it is vital to keep your options open and be willing to change paths. I loved the presentation from IP Australia as this was one career path I hadn’t heard of but seems extremely interesting.”

“(hearing) the individual stories was most useful.”

“I am about to finish uni, so it was great to hear about the journeys that others have taken. The presentations were very good, and the time allocated was perfect.”

NYSF will be running a similar alumni event in conjunction with the Sydney Next Step program in July.

Our thanks to IP Australia for its partnership in 2017, and The University of Melbourne for its ongoing support as a partner of the National Youth Science Forum.

NYSF Rotary District Chair, Stephen Lovison talks about student selections

Rotary, NYSF,

“I honestly had no idea the depth and breadth of the program”

From our larger cities to small regional towns in outback Australia, Rotarians have been super busy over the past few months promoting the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) and conducting student selections for the NYSF 2018 Year 12 Program.

We spoke to NYSF Rotary District Chair (DC), Stephen Lovison from Sydney (D9675), about his involvement with Rotary and the NYSF Student Selection process.

Stephen first joined Rotary in 1999 as a Rotaractor and has been president of his Rotary Club, Como-Jannali, twice and served on numerous district boards.

“(I joined Rotary) primarily to give back to my local community and to assist overseas causes championed by Rotary International.  I like the fact that club members are local community leaders, but the beneficiaries of our volunteer work could be anywhere on the planet,” Stephen said.

“When the opportunity for NYSF District Chair became available I decided to try something different. I honestly had no idea the depth and breadth of the program until I got working on it – it’s been challenging and rewarding all the same.”

Rotary Liaison Officer on the NYSF Board, Rob Woolley, estimated that last year Rotarians volunteered more than 20,000 hours to the NYSF in promoting the program and conducting student selections.  Rotary has over 30,000 members, 1,100 clubs in 21 Districts throughout Australia, giving students from all corners of the country the opportunity to attend the NYSF.

“Rotary provides a massive logistic service when it comes to student identification, interview and selection. We rely on our network of business and community leaders to ensure the most suitable candidates are put forward (to district selection),” Stephen said.

This year the NYSF Year 12 Program will be expanding, allowing 600 students to attend in either Canberra or Brisbane.  Stephen added that the program provided a great opportunity for students who were interested in the STEM fields of study.

“Experience and exposure to the top minds and resources in STEM at the level NYSF provides is unrivalled. If you can get access to this as a young person and springboard your career in STEM because of this opportunity, go for it.”

Rotary, NYSF

This year the NYSF is offering 40 Equity Scholarships of $1000 each to students who may need assistance to attend the Year 12 Program.  Stephen believes this will encourage a more diverse range of students to apply.

“There are a number of schools and districts where, for various reasons, a program such as this may be deemed “out of reach”.  In keeping with Rotary and NYSF’s commitment to making the program viable to all students, the Equity Scholarship should hopefully open more doors for these students.”

And Stephen’s advice to students thinking of applying to the NYSF …

“Jump on the NYSF website and do some research, then make contact with your local Rotary Club. We are here to guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have.”

“In our district, we look for any student with a keen interest in the STEM fields, who is community and culturally open minded, and is willing to share and collaborate with their peers and mentors.”

Stephen said feedback from students who have participated in the NYSF Year 12 Program is a testament to its success and value.

“We have not had anything but praise for the NYSF team and the program itself from every returning student! The phrases “changed my life” “wonderful and challenging two weeks” “would recommend to anyone” feature heavily in the post-program reports sent to DCs.”

“In broad terms, alumni have gone on to various university courses and careers in science, healthcare, astronomy, and engineering. Several have joined Rotaract and/or Rotary and we’re glad to see that investment coming full circle.”

For more information about the NYSF Year 12 Program go to https://www.nysf.edu.au

Superstars of STEM – become a voice for female scientists

STEM, women in science, Science

Superstars of STEM is a fantastic opportunity for female NYSF alumni who are interested in developing their communication, presentation and media engagement skills.

Science & Technology Australia is now accepting applications for the inaugural Superstars of STEM. The professional development program aims to smash society’s gender assumptions about scientists and increase the public visibility of women in STEM.

Superstars of STEM will support 30 of the nation’s most dynamic female scientists and technologists to become role models for young women and girls, and work towards equal representation in the media of men and women in STEM.

Science & Technology Australia’s, Chief Executive Officer, Kylie Walker, said the program provides a great career development opportunity for female scientists.

“The opportunities that will come from this program will propel these women’s careers, shaping them to become influencers and leaders in their sector.”

Successful applicants will participate in workshops, networking, mentoring, media and public speaking throughout the program

Women from all STEM disciplines are encouraged to apply, in fields including but not restricted to mathematics, technology, biology, medical research, geology, marine science, microbiology, engineering, physics, astronomy, and more.

Applications close 5pm, 23 May 2017.  To find out more or to apply go to  https://scienceandtechnologyaustralia.org.au/what-we-do/superstars-of-stem/

For further enquiries about the program contact Brodie Steel, Project Officer – Superstars of STEM, Ph 02 6257 2891 or email brodie.steel@sta.org.au

NYSF 2017 students visit LMA’s STELaRLaB

Lockheed Martin Australia’s STELaRLaB hosted 15 NYSF 2017 participants as part of the Melbourne Next Step program in March.

This was a unique opportunity to see what a world-leading R&D facility is like and learn about the kinds of work being undertaken by the researchers there.

The STELaRLaB is the first such facility to be established by LMA outside of the United States. The research being conducted there is in projects of interest to LMA, as well as R&D funded by the Australian Government through grants, PhD funding, advanced R&D contracts and other programs, such as the New Technology Fund. Established in 2016, it aims to hire more than 20 researchers in the first three years, to work on projects in hypersonics, autonomous systems, robotics and command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR).

STELaRLaB is headed up by Dr Tony Lindsay, who welcomed the NYSF students to the facility, before they headed off to tour the labs and talk with the researchers about their work.

“We’re really excited about this opportunity to show the NYSF students some real world, really cool and complex things here at STELaRLab. What they will experience here is real research, applying all those equations we learn, all those hours of sitting in a lecture – this is what it’s all about.”

“Lockheed Martin Australia is very proud of being a major sponsor of the National Youth Science Forum; working to get the next generation understanding and appreciating the excitement of a career in science and technology, the fact that you can do it here in Australia and have a global influence. That’s important.”

Feedback on the visit from the students was very positive:

“It was an incredible experience, being able to interact with engineers in the field, doing their job. It was great.”

“It was really good to see R&D in action. It was also good that university students talked to us about their work throughout their studies.”

“The STELaRLab visit is the kind of career path I wish to follow, and getting some insight into that was an incredible experience.”

Further information on STELaRLab.

Five Minutes with Your Future – NYSF at the World Science Festival Brisbane

On Friday 24 March the NYSF had the privilege to be a part of the World Science Festival Brisbane, hosting our very own event “Five Minutes with Your Future”.

The event ran three separate sessions in a speed-date-a-scientist format, with NYSF and University of Queensland alumni speaking to small groups of Year 9-12 high school students about their experiences pursuing a degree and career in a STEM field. It was a humid day in Brisbane, but this didn’t seem to bother the locals, with non-stop chatter and intent discussions throughout each hour. As is the goal of our NYSF Year 12 program, the aim was to give students a broader understanding of the diverse study and career options available in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

The World Science Festival Brisbane, held from 22 to 26 March, was a huge success with a reported 182,000 attending the various events held throughout the festival. This was an increase of 60,000 compared to the inaugural event held in 2016. As an organisation that supports science in Australia, it is just brilliant to see such a great turn out for this science festival. Attendance at our own event was also excellent, with each session being sold out.

On the Saturday and Sunday (25-26 March), NYSF teamed up with the Young Scientists of Australia Brisbane Chapter, to run a stall at the street science fair. Aimed at younger children, this stall included a magic mud pit and a photo booth with props to dress up as a scientist. The stall was a huge success with hundreds of people coming through to have their photo taken.

A big thanks is owed to all of the NYSF and University of Queensland alumni who volunteered their time and enthusiasm for the event, coming to share their STEM journey with the next generation. Feedback from the volunteers was very positive, with them seeing great value in the events. A big thank you to the team at World Science Festival Brisbane for inviting us to run an event and for all their support along the way. Another big thank you is owed to Jason from YSA Brisbane for his work coordinating the science stall. And finally thanks to all the students, their teachers and for members of the public for participating in the events. We hope you all had as much fun as we did!

Meet Associate Professor Tara Murphy, 1995 National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) Alumna and Astrophysicist

STEM, Science, NYSF, National Youth Science Forum, astronomy

Tara giving an astronomy talk at Monivong High School in Battambang, Cambodia

“My time at NYSF was transformational. I am the first person in my family to attend university and I didn’t have ready access to anyone who could give me career advice. NYSF opened up a window to a whole new world.”

I’m an astrophysicist at the University of Sydney, working on transient radio sources: astronomical objects that vary on rapid timescales. These include extreme events like supernovae and gamma-ray bursts, as well as flaring stars and pulsars. My research is data-driven, I conduct surveys on telescopes like the Murchison Widefield Array, processing terabytes of data to find extremely rare objects in our Galaxy and beyond. I’m also the founder of an edtech start-up company, Grok Learning, https://groklearning.com with the mission of teaching kids to code. I think I have the best job(s) in the world!

When I finished high school I wasn’t sure what path I would follow, but I loved science (and literature, and lots of other things). I ended up choosing a Bachelor of Science (Advanced) at the University of Sydney. My decision was based on two things: advice from the veterinarian I did work experience with in Year 10, who said “if you really love science you should do a science degree” and the advice I got when I attended NYSF in 1995, where the advantages of general science degrees was explained. I really enjoyed my university experience, and I ended up majoring in physics and mathematics, and then went on to do Honours in astrophysics.

Science, STEM, NYSF

With colleagues from AT20G Survey team, arriving at Ayers Rock Airport to be the first CAASTRO Astronormer in Residence at Uluru, with 4 of Tara’s radio astronomy student at graduation last year.

After I graduated most of my friends decided to go overseas for postgraduate study, and so we scattered around the world. I went to Edinburgh with my boyfriend (a computer scientist) and did a PhD in astrophysics. I learned a lot about science, but I also got absorbed by the Edinburgh Festival, travelled around Europe, and went on some fun cycling trips. After a postdoctoral position at CSIRO I got a fellowship and then an academic position at Sydney.

“My time at NYSF was transformational. I am the first person in my family to attend university and I didn’t have ready access to anyone who could give me career advice. NYSF opened up a window to a whole new world.

It (NYSF) had such an impact on me that for 10 years I was Director of the National Computer Science School, a similar program that focuses on IT. The highlight was when a student from the country walked into the Google Sydney offices and said: “Wow, I didn’t realise that jobs like this existed”. That’s how I felt as a student at NYSF, and now I’m lucky enough to have one of those cool jobs I didn’t even know about when I was at high school!

Tara has just released lots of video lectures in a (free) MOOC that may be of interest to NYSF alumni https://www.coursera.org/learn/data-driven-astronomy/lecture/fA0EF/thinking-about-data

ANU Event – Girls in Engineering and Technology Program (GET Set)

The ANU has the following event on offer to young women interested in engineering and technology with registrations now open.

Girls in Engineering and Technology Program (GET Set) is designed for female students in years 11 and 12, who wish to explore an education and career in engineering or technology.

This year The Australian National University (ANU) is celebrating the 10th GET Set event with a very special program of activities. This free, fun-filled day of non-competitive activities includes design, test and build tasks, lectures, demonstrations and more.

To find out more and register, visit the ANU College of Engineering and Computer Science website.

Date: Wednesday 19 July 2017

Time: 8.30am-4pm

Location: Ian Ross Building 31, The Australian National University

 

What’s happening at Melbourne University?

What’s happening at Melbourne? News and Updates from Parkville

As written by the University of Melbourne

FOCUS ON MELBOURNE – COURSE INFORMATION EVENINGS

Our Focus on Agriculture, Biomedicine, Engineering, I.T, Science and Veterinary Science information evenings are a great way to learn more about our Biomedicine and Science undergraduate degrees and career pathways. The event will feature a range of different presentations, Q&A panels and opportunities to meet with our current staff and students.

  • Talk to our friendly staff about your study options in 2018
  • Hear from current students and staff about, and get a glimpse of University life
  • Explore majors, breadth options, electives, internships and research opportunities in your chosen faculty

Focus on Biomedicine – Tuesday 16 May
Focus on Agriculture – Thursday 18 May
Focus on Veterinary Science – Thursday 18 May
Focus on Engineering -Tuesday 23 May
Focus on I.T – Wednesday 24 May
Focus on Science – Tuesday 30 May

To learn more and register, visit the Focus on Melbourne website: https://futurestudents.unimelb.edu.au/explore/events/victoria_and_interstate/victoria/focus-on-melbourne

SHARKS – HOW A CULL CAN RUIN AN ECOSYSTEM

Killing of sharks in high numbers can devastate oceanic ecosystems, leading to plummeting populations and serious environmental consequences. Associate Professor Robert Day, a marine biologist in the School of BioSciences at the University of Melbourne, says sharks’ role is so tightly interwoven with the health of the ocean, if their numbers are reduced everything goes out of balance.

“The top predators in any ecosystem are very important because they decide on whether other creatures become numerous or not,” he says.

“If there is a lack of sharks, then fish and other ocean creatures that would otherwise be consumed by sharks will become too numerous and eat too many smaller creatures and so on, meaning that the whole ecosystem changes massively.”

Find out more about this amazing research here!

PLANTS HAVE FEELINGS TOO!

Plants may not have eyes, ears or a tongue, but their skin can perform many of the same functions. Plants are not only aware of when it rains or when it’s windy, but they can respond accordingly.

Dr Kim Johnson, a research fellow in the School of BioSciences, University of Melbourne, studies the world of plant senses.

“Plants are constantly under environmental stresses. You can actually see how plants respond to those physical stresses because they change their shape,” Dr Kim Johnson says.

“So if a plant is getting constantly hit with strong wind, it will actually change shape to better resist that wind; if roots hit a rock, they’ll grow around it, so they sense things around them.”

Find out more about this amazing research here!

FROM POKEMON GO TO THE CLASS ROOM – HOW THE UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE AND MICROSOFT IS TAKING STUDENTS UNDER THE SKINS OF THEIR PATIENTS

Pokémon Go pushed Augmented Reality, or AR, into the mainstream, sending over 500 million people chasing cartoons with their smartphones. But now, in a unique multi-disciplinary collaboration, it’s making the leap from entertainment to education.

A new fusion of augmented reality, gaming technology, and anatomy is giving physiotherapy students at the University of Melbourne access to cutting-edge technology to take a look inside the human body by projecting different layers of muscles and bones over the top of a volunteer ‘patient’. It provides an inside view of how the body works as it moves in real time.

By using tracking sensors mounted on a scaffold it projects images of our muscles and skeleton directly onto a volunteer. The images automatically follow the shape and movement of the body, giving students in the studio space an interactive all-round view of how our bodies work. It can even allow them and their teachers to “draw” on the projected image to make information and action more explicit.

Find out more about this amazing research here!