From the CEO – the year in review

As selections for the NYSF 2018 Year 12 Program are finalised in communities all over the country, I can report that the NYSF is tracking well as we head into our 35th year of program delivery, making a difference in the lives of so many young Australians who love science.

In my sixth year as the CEO of the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF), I am very proud to to report that the NYSF’s suite of outreach programs was again delivered successfully in the past financial year. The feedback we received from last year indicated a broad sense of satisfaction with the programs we are offering to our wide range of participants – year 12 students, teachers, alumni, and just outside of the 2016-2017 reporting period – year seven and eight students. As always, we will continue to use this feedback to support our continuous improvement paradigm for upcoming programs. 

Reflecting the strategic direction of the organisation over the past financial year we have welcomed five new staff members to the corporate team – effectively doubling our resources. These new members have complemented the expertise of our existing team and boosted our capability within communications, marketing, program development, and delivery. With these new colleagues, we now have a team of 10 FTE.

The receipt of significant funding from the Australian Government through the National Science and Innovation Agenda has assisted in the continued development of NYSF’s Year 12 Programs and the National Science Teachers Summer School, which will also be delivered in both Canberra at The Australian National University (ANU) and Brisbane at The University of Queensland (UQ) in January 2018. The Year 12 Program will be offered to up to 600 participants, with 70 student staff leaders across the three sessions supporting their experience, and the expanded science teacher program now allows for 80 places in both locations.

We have also introduced an Equity Scholarship to assist students from low socio-economic backgrounds and other equity groups to attend the program, complementing the ongoing financial support available from many Rotary clubs. We expect this initiative to be fully subscribed for the NYSF 2018 Year 12 Program.

As noted above, we recently successfully delivered our first STEM Explorer Program, in conjunction with the South Australian Department of Education and Early Childhood. This program is targeted at year seven and eight students to increase their curiosity and STEM literacy and was extremely well received by the younger students who participated in the inaugural program.

Our fundraising and corporate support achievements remain solid and have exceeded expectation and budget. My sense is that this is due to our mature communications strategy, our paradigm of continuous improvement, and the delivery of quality and relevant programs. An additional factor is the contemporary governance approaches championed by our experienced Board. 

I take this opportunity to thank our Board members for their ongoing support, professionalism and strategic vision as we move the organisation through this significant growth phase.

I am pleased to advise that Andrew Metcalfe, AO, Rowley Tompsett, Loren Atkins, Dr Renee Kidson and Professor Sally-Ann Poulsen – the latter three are alumnae of the NYSF (as the National Science Summer School) – have all been re-appointed to the Board. We are also delighted and very excited that Dr Geoff Garrett, AO and the Hon Kate Lundy have been elected to the NYSF Board and will both be Deputy Chairs. Andrew Metcalfe, AO was re-elected as Chair for another two years.

Dr Garrett has a distinguished leadership and professional career in science both in Australia and internationally and most recently was the Chief Scientist in Queensland; prior to that Dr Garrett was the CEO of CSIRO.

Ms Lundy is the ACT Local Industry Advocate and formerly Senator for the ACT (1996-2016) in the Australian Parliament; she served in Ministerial appointments during this time, and is now actively engaged in promoting the opportunities for national and international business in the ACT. As a Senator, Ms Lundy was an enthusiastic supporter of the NYSF, often welcoming our participants to Canberra at Parliament House Opening Ceremonies.

The breadth of experience that these appointments adds to our board cannot be overstated, and I look forward to working with all of our board members to continue the organisation’s strategic development in the coming years, under the steady guidance of our Chair, Andrew Metcalfe, AO.

The broad aims of the NYSF are to reach more young people to encourage and build their engagement in STEM, to support and acknowledge science teachers in their own growth and development, to re-engage our alumni who are our best ambassadors – their achievements both personally and professionally inspire me every day.

I also acknowledge all of the Rotarians across the country for their support of the NYSF Year 12 programs, and specifically the significant contributions from our NYSF Rotary District Chairs.

I also acknowledge all of the Rotarians across the country for their support of the NYSF Year 12 programs, and specifically the significant contributions from our NYSF Rotary District Chairs.

And finally, I thank our corporate team members who work at the coalface of STEM outreach activities, finding and fashioning all of the pieces of the jigsaw, and working together to deliver quality programs for our participants.

I look forward to January 2018 and beyond as the NYSF continues to grow and meet the needs of the Australian community.

Dr Damien Pearce

Chief Executive Officer

August 2017

Taking the “Next Step” in Sydney for STEM study information

The National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) continued its Next Step program in Sydney this July over a two-day period.  The Next Step Program is an extension of our January Year 12 Program – allowing the current year’s participants with the opportunity to further their knowledge about career and study options available to them.

Day one saw visits to our partner organisations ResMed and Cochlear in the morning and the Sydney Observatory and Powerhouse Museum in the afternoon.

At ResMed students toured the facilities of one of the biggest chronic sleep disorder device corporations in the world. They explored the ResMed manufacturing warehouses, had discussions with leading research and development engineers, and tried their hand at assembling various sleep apnoea devices.

During the Cochlear visit participants went behind the scenes for a glimpse into the hearing implant market and saw why Cochlear is a world-wide market leader.

In an interactive exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum, participants were transported back to Sherlock Holmes’ Victorian London to try and crack the case by conducting their own experiments.

Isabel Beaumont, one of this year’s cohort said NYSF’s Next Step program was a valuable addition to the January Year 12 Program.

“The Next Step programs are always useful as they further broaden your understanding of all the possible careers in science.  The are also a great way to reconnect with friends from the NYSF,” she said.

“I really enjoyed the visit to the Cochlear headquarters. We were able to tour their implant manufacturing facilities and see some very impressive machinery.”

During the evening the NYSF held an Alumni Event that you can read about here.

At the Sydney Observatory, in the heart of the CBD, students looked through a telescope over a century old, as well as more modern equipment. They viewed sunspots on our Sun, and the largest planet in the solar system, Jupiter. They also discussed career options with Danica, the tour guide, who is completing a PhD in Astronomy.

The following day students visited the University of New South Wales (UNSW).  There were multiple visits available such as the opportunity to build and engineer solar cars, explore the Museum of Human Diseases and listen to lectures about psychology, optometry, medicine and various other degrees. NYSF alumni who are at UNSW studying degrees across science, medicine and engineering, visited the group, and  heard about the amazing scholarship opportunities UNSW offers.

NYSF 2017 alumnus, Ben Kirsh said he got a better insight into university life after visiting UNSW.

“It was really good to see the uni (UNSW) and the student tour guides were great because they showed you the side that isn’t portrayed in the open day brochures. They gave insider knowledge of senior students which I thought was pretty cool … and confirmed to me that attending UNSW next year is very possible. All in all we came away with a lot of great information and advice we can use to make informed decisions about study and career options into the future.”

Ben also felt that Next Step gave him additional information about future career and study options.

“Next Step was very useful as it allowed the opportunity to see other (NYSF partner) universities such as UNSW and talk to students currently studying a range of degrees in differing fields to question them to see which may fit myself the best. It also allowed me to catch up with people I met at NYSF, as well as meeting people from other sessions,” he said.

We would like to thank our partners for their continued support and in particular those organisations that participated in the Sydney Next Step Program, IP Australia, UNSW, ResMed, Cochlear and UTS.

Sharing Knowledge and Experience – Sydney Next Step Alumni Event

In partnership with IP Australia the NYSF hosted the second Alumni Event in July. The event was held at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), where our newest cohort of NYSF participants had the opportunity to listen to older NYSF alumni about their education and career journeys.  The Alumni Event was part of the Sydney Next Step Program which you can read about here.

Professor Louise McWhinnie, Dean of the Faculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation welcomed everyone to UTS, and then several NYSF Alumni spoke about their study and work since leaving high school.

Stephanie Pearce (NYSF 2010)  now works as a patent examiner at IP Australia. Stephanie shared insights about life after NYSF, particularly her career at IP Australia, and the importance of protecting  intellectual property.

Associate Professor Alison Beavis, (NYSF 1997) who is Deputy Dean for the UTS Department of Transdisciplinary Innovation said she felt a part of the NYSF family and offered some sage advice to this year’s cohort.

“This year will be a hard, crazy year but remember in the end it will be incredibly exhilarating. It’s a long journey but you are not alone, you are always being supported.”

Our keynote speaker, Associate Professor Josephine Clayton,  attended the very first NYSF (previously known as National Science Summer School – NSSS) in 1984. She spoke about her professional and personal journey in medicine, and an experience with a dying patient’s attitude to medical care that changed the course of her career.  Associate Professor Clayton is the Director of HammondCare’s Centre for Learning and Research in Palliative Care. Her research aims to explore the best ways to facilitate open discussions around palliative care that aligns with the patient’s wishes as opposed to looking at the issue from a purely medical point of view.

“In an ageing population we can’t cope with palliative care. There are not enough beds.  We need to get GPs involved.”

“I am blessed to have a job that has dedicated time to researching and teaching.  I love collaborative research that focuses on translating research into clinical practice,” Associate Professor Clayton said.

The other presentations highlighted the diversity of our alumni’s experiences, touching on everything from overcoming obstacles and changing paths, through to advice on what employers are currently looking for and following your passion.  All in all NYSF alumni had a great evening, gaining great advice about study options and career, networking and meeting other alumni and catching up with old friends.

NYSF thanks our alumni speakers including Rhys Killian (NYSF 2013), Emily Smith (NYSF 2010), and Jacob Silove (NYSF 2014)  and our fabulous MC Jason Borg (NYSF 2010).  A special thank you also to Professor Louise McWhinnie, Associate Professor Alison Beavis, the staff at UTS who made the evening such a great success and IP Australia for its continued support.

You can donate to the NYSF at any time

Did you know you can donate to support the activities of the National Youth Science Forum?

The NYSF holds Donor Gift Recipient (DGR) status with the Australian Taxation Office and all donations to the NYSF over $2 will attract tax deductions in your tax return.

Some people choose to give through the Good2Give platform where the donation is processed by their employer as part of their regular pay.

NYSF CEO, Dr Damien Pearce, says that workplace giving platforms are a valuable mechanism for people who want to make a difference over a longer timeframe by donating small amounts throughout the year.

“We want to acknowledge the support of these donors – we really appreciate them considering the NYSF as a donor recipient. People are still also able to make one-off donations at any time during the year through our website. Just go to www.nysf.edu.au and scroll down to the bottom of the page – under the “Get in Touch” section there are options for making donations. All of the funds donated go towards the delivery of quality NYSF programs.”

Meet the Youth Advisors of NYSF STEM Explorer

“Australia needs more students passionate about STEM and wanting to work in these fields. I want to play a role in making students aware of the pathways they can take in STEM but also show them how interesting it can be.” Damian

The National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) has used a by youth for youth model in our NYSF Year 12 Program for the majority of its 35 years in operation. This is just one aspect that makes the program so unique! This same tried and tested model has also been implemented for the new STEM Explorer program running in Adelaide this week. What we have found through this model is that the young participants on program find the youth leaders highly relatable and inspiring as they are close enough in age and stage that they can more easily picture themselves in their shoes. Being a Youth Advisor also offers a great opportunity to develop leadership skills.  The Youth Advisors volunteering at STEM Explorer are all NYSF alumni, and the majority are currently pursuing their own future in STEM through university or graduate jobs.

There were ten fantastic Youth Advisor volunteers lending a hand at STEM Explorer. I spoke to some of them on site and here are some of the pearls they had to pass on to our young STEM enthusiasts.

Teejay is currently studying to become a maths and science teacher at the University of Newcastle and loves sharing her passion for science and learning.

Reflecting on her own time as a participant with NYSF, Teejay said “The NYSF introduced me to creative scientific thinking and made science interesting and relatable. I loved that the NYSF taught us science through experiences. Everyone at NYSF radiated a passion for science and learning which inspired me to become a science and maths teacher so I could show more students that passion.”

Katie is nearing the end of a Bachelor of Information Technology & Science at the University of Queensland. Katie feels very passionate about the value of STEM and supporting young students to pursue this. “I applied for the Youth Advisor role with STEM Explorer because supporting students through the early days of an education in these fields is an endeavour I will always be passionate about.”

Damian is currently completing a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Sydney. He applied for the role as a Youth Advisor because – “Australia needs more students passionate about STEM and wanting to work in these fields in the future, I want to play a role in making students aware of the pathways they can take in STEM but also show them how interesting it can be.”

We asked the Youth Advisors – If you could give one piece of advice to the Year 7 & 8 students attending STEM Explorer, about pursuing a future in STEM, what would it be?

Here is what they had to say:

“Do it! There are an infinite variety of jobs in STEM and the beauty is, if you don’t like any of them you can make your own job. STEM is limitless and always changing, you will never be bored or lose passion within STEM.” – Tegan

Parallel to the NYSF’s own key mission, Damian says “Keep your options open and try as many things as possible, particularly at such a young age.  You never know what opportunities you will come by and which of those opportunities you will enjoy.”

What the NYSF has found through so many years of running STEM programs is the power in bringing together so many young students who are all enthusiastic about the same thing – STEM! The energy at the STEM Explorer Program in Adelaide was testament to that.

A big thank you to all our NYSF STEM Explorer Youth Advisors!

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.

 

 

Forty Students to benefit from new NYSF Equity Scholarship

Scholarship, NYSF, National Youth Science Forum, NYSF, STEM

Biological Anthropology, ANU College of Arts and Social Science

If you’re thinking about applying for the NYSF 2018 Year 12 Program but are not sure about the cost – our equity scholarships may help you on your way. The scholarship will award up to 40 students $1,000 each towards their fee to attend the Program.

The NYSF Equity Scholarships are designed to encourage young people from more diverse backgrounds to attend by contributing to the reduction of the participation fee.

The NYSF Equity Scholarship stems from funding secured from the Department of Industry Innovation and Science (DIIS) via the National Science and Innovation Agenda (NISA).

To find out more about our Equity Scholarships follow the link HERE

There may be further opportunities to cover part or all of the programs cost through community fundraising or sponsorship, or contributions from your endorsing Rotary Club or school.

Please Note: Submitting an application for an Equity Scholarship does not constitute an application to attend the NYSF Year 12 Program. A separate application for NYSF 2018 will also need to be completed.

If you have any questions that are not answered by the information on our website, please email programs@nysf.edu.au

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.

Volunteer Opportunities for Alumni with NYSF STEM Explorer – July 2017

2017 is set to be a big year for the NYSF with the launch of a new pilot program, NYSF STEM Explorer. The program is a collaborative initiative between the South Australian Department of Education and Child Development (DECD) and the NYSF, with additional seed funding provided by the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

The Adelaide based program, running from 17-21 July 2017, is targeting science engagement for school students in years 7 and 8, with spaces for 120 students from across South Australia. In line with the vision of NYSF, the program aims to inspire young people to value science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and its importance in our communities. Planning is well underway for this exciting new program with visits to leading research facilities and industry sites.

Are you an NYSF Alumni looking for a professional development opportunity? Would you be interested to take on a role to help to facilitate the program? Have you missed the NYSF and want an opportunity to re-engage?

Calling all NYSF Alumni

Following a similar model to that of the NYSF Year 12 Program, STEM Explorer will be staffed by NYSF alumni volunteers, and applications are now open. We are looking for one STEM Explorer Coordinator to act as a “Chief of Staff” (must be over 21) as well as several Youth Advisors (must be over 18) to supervise events and student participation in the program. You can read more about the positions and their selection criteria through the links below.

Apply here to be a Youth Advisor for the 2017 STEM Explorer program

https://www.nysf.edu.au/volunteer/stem-explorer-volunteering-opportunity/

Apply here to be the STEM Explorer Coordinator for the 2017 STEM Explorer Program

https://www.nysf.edu.au/volunteer/stem-explorer-volunteering-opportunity-2/

Applications close midnight Sunday 21 May 2017.