From the CEO

The National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) 2017 January Sessions are now behind us and the 400 Australian and international students who participated have returned home to commence their final year in high school, full of new knowledge, inspiration and friendships to carry them forward during this pivotal time in their lives.

Both Session A and C were extremely successful and a testament to the extensive dedication and support we received from so many people who support our programs.  In particular, I would like to thank our Chiefs of Staff, Meg Lowry (Session A) and Martin de Rooy (Session C), and our teams of student staff leaders, whose efforts were instrumental to the success of program this year.

I would also like to recognise contributions by the NYSF Corporate staff, our volunteer Rotary parents, aunts and uncles, members of Rotary Clubs across Australia, Burgmann College, The Australian National University (ANU), our communications and teacher program interns, our many distinguished guest speakers and particularly our lab visit hosts, who provided access to leading research and industrial facilities. I encourage you to read back through the NYSF Outlook site to learn about some of the highlights from session.

Finally, the NYSF program could not exist without the financial and logistical support of our Partners and Sponsors. I thank them for their contributions during January and their continued support of the organisation and its programs.

Running in conjunction with the year 12 program in January was the NYSF National Science Teachers Summer School (NSTSS) – aimed at supporting teachers and their commitment to STEM education in their local communities. A group of 40 teachers from around Australia participated in this long-running professional development program. Teachers were exposed to cutting edge science via lab visits, workshops, and lectures as well as engaging and networking with their peers.

Exciting times are ahead for the NYSF as we continue to develop and grow the organisation. In January, our Chair, Andrew Metcalfe AO, announced the addition of a third January session (Session B) for NYSF 2018 hosted at The University of Queensland (UQ), providing an extra 200 places – 600 students in total at the ANU and UQ.  This is made possible through funding from the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA). The extra places will give more students across Australia the opportunity to explore their study and career options in the STEM fields. This is evidence of the value of our year 12 program and its positive effect on students studying STEM subjects.

Although January is over, the NYSF engine room is still running hot with much planned for the remainder of 2017 and beyond. Applications for NSYF International Programs have opened with overwhelming interest.  March is looking busy – applications for NYSF 2018 will open on 1 March and will be accepted until 31 May. The Rotary District Chairs Conference will be held in Canberra, and our alumni will be out and about promoting STEM study and the NYSF at the World Science Festival in Brisbane. Our Next Step Programs for NYSF 2017 students will run throughout April to July in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, with alumni events co-hosted by IP Australia. The Student Staff Leadership Program kicks off in July and another first for the NYSF is our exciting pilot program, STEM Explorer, which will run for the in Adelaide in July 2017.  The STEM Explorer Program is a collaborative initiative between the South Australian Department of Education (DED) and the NYSF, targeting science engagement for school students in years 7 and 8. We also acknowledge the seed funding we received to develop this program from the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

In other news, we also announced in January that Professor Tanya Monro, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research and Innovation at the University of South Australia, has taken on the role of NYSF Science Patron.  Professor Monro, a NYSF alumna (1990), was Chair of the NSSS Board from 2014-2016.  We are delighted that Professor Monro will continue her involvement with the organisation. We have also welcomed Professor Sally-Ann Poulsen and Loren Atkins to the NSSS Board. Professor Poulsen is also a NYSF alumna (1986) and will bring with her a wealth of knowledge and experience in industry and academica.  Loren Atkins (NYSF alumna 2005), the new NYSF alumni representative, holds a Bachelor of Law (Hons), and a Bachelor of Science in Geography and Environmental Science, and currently works for the World Bank as an Associate Counsel.

By now, our NYSF 2016 alumni will have made decisions about the next stage of their education.  Whatever field of study or institution you have decided upon I would like to wish you all the best for your future studies and hope that in some small way the NYSF has helped steer you on your path.

Dr Damien Pearce

CEO

NYSF International Program pays off – XLAB in Goettingen, Germany

NYSF 2016 alumnus Tom Houlden participated in the XLAB International Science Camp hosted at The University of Goettingen, Germany in June this year, and recalls his experience.

The Göttingen science camp was an absolute eye opener for me

“Nineteen students attended XLAB International Science Camp in Göettingen, Germany, coming from eight different countries across four different continents, speaking roughly twelve different languages. It would be a feat to distinguish what was more impressive – the cultural cocktail achieved in this experience or the huge variety of scientific activity, from experiments to lectures, or tours to presentations by esteemed scientists.

Tom Houlden

Tom Houlden, with the participants in XLAB Summer Science Camp, Goettingen, June 2016

The Göttingen science camp was an absolute eye opener for me – actually being on the frontier of science; I was extremely fortunate to have this experience at the perfect time in my life. It gave me a chance to assess the reality of my intentions for the future, while I still have time to consolidate them. This camp provided a glimpse into what research is actually like, the failures, the tedium, the obsession with detail, the endless data collection, the successes and most importantly, the dedication to ‘finding things out’.

The three-week camp comprised of three individual one-week courses designed to target sub-fields in biology, chemistry and physics. I spent my three weeks primarily in the biology department, taking courses in neurophysiology, molecular biology and immunology. A goal of these courses was to expose us to current research methods and technologies in these fields. Because of this objective I now have a relatively good knowledge of exactly what methods I can use to analyse blood samples for specific antigens, genetically alter bacteria, stimulate neuron signals and analyse the visual system of insects amongst other very fundamental scientific practices.

The highlight of the experience might have been, narrowly, my time working with bacteria in the molecular biology course. Here I inserted DNA containing genes removed from florescent jellyfish into bacteria which I cultivated and watched as they began to become fluorescent under ultraviolet light.

Tim Houlden1

We then analysed the process that bacteria, like humans, undergo to produce proteins (in this case, ones that glow in the dark) from genes. Here I conducted different experiments on the bacteria, isolating the DNA, other genetic material and eventually managing to separate the proteins themselves. This process not only confirmed the theory which I studied extensively back at school with a real life demonstration of this process which had fascinated me so much, but it also managed to consolidate my passion for this kind of scientific enquiry.

As well as the strong scientific element of the course, we also had the opportunity to discover nearby parts of Germany. Visiting historically significant towns such as Goslar, culturally rich towns such as Kassel and sobering sites such as the Buchenwald concentration camp, we managed to get a feel for the country outside of the scientific hub where we were living. It is these visits and immersion into the German culture (which apparently flourishes at the time of the European Cup which fortunately coincided with our trip), which has forced me to consider looking at Georg-August-Universität (the university that Göttingen is famous for) as a destination for further studies in the years to come.

I have come away with a renewed sense of direction

XLAB was a place where my passion for science was able to collide with the enthusiasms of my international peers. Ultimately I have come away with a renewed sense of direction in terms my aspirations for a scientific career as well as a newfound passion for connecting with others from across the globe, particularly in regards to my concreted understanding of science and human exploration in general as an international endeavour.”

Exploring a new range of possibilities at the London International Youth Science Forum

Emma Wignell was one of 25 NYSF 2015 Alumni selected to attend the London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF) in July and August 2015.

The LIYSF has been operating for more than 50 years and attracts over 450 students from almost 65 countries for a two-week session.

For Emma, attending LIYSF and the follow-up trip to CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research Discovery Program, was an opportunity to experience world-class science facilities, and to visit some incredible laboratories across Europe, meeting remarkable individuals from across the globe and exploring her passion for science.

I enjoyed meeting scientists from a wide range of fields and I also had the opportunity to discuss their work with them

LIYSF 2015

LIYSF 2015 (Emma on right)

Emma says that before going to London, she had intended to study  science at university followed by a career in research. However, the LIYSF opened her up to a new range of possibilities. Now she wants to study an undergraduate science degree with a postgraduate degree in law, in the hope of becoming a lawyer – with a focus on the interplay of science and ethics in an ever-changing and modernising society.

The LIYSF program allows participants to pick their own lab and site visits. Emma chose to visit the Queen Mary School of Physics and Astronomy in London, Airbus UK in Bristol, and the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy Research. “I enjoyed meeting scientists from a wide range of fields and I also had the opportunity to discuss their work with them.”

She also attended a lecture by behavioral scientist Dr Simon Kyle from University of Oxford who presented his research discussing the interaction between sleep disorders and mental illness. Dr Kyle answered questions ranging from why we sleep walk to the ‘falling’ sensation we sometimes feel on the verge of falling asleep.

Another standout lecture was from Dr Michael Londesborough from the Czech Academy of Sciences. His lecture was an interactive presentation on boron hydrides and their application in the wider world.

The opportunity to network with students from all over the world was particularly valuable. “I made new friends with people from England, Ireland, Malaysia, Spain, Malta, the Netherlands, Germany, and of course fellow Australians.”

The CERN Discovery Program facilitated by the LIYSF saw participants travelling to Geneva via Paris, taking in the sights. The highpoint in Paris for Emma was a visit to the Cite des Sciences with her favorite exhibit focused on young scientists and inventors and the planetarium section on aviation development.

At CERN the students had a guided tour of the cryogenic test facility, the Compact Muon Solenoid experiment, the ATLAS detector, and the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer experiment, which looks at dark matter, antimatter and missing matter from a module on the International Space Station. They met with scientists from diverse fields and were given the opportunity to ask questions, take photos and learn about what goes on inside the Large Hadron Collider.

“The 2015 London International Youth Science Forum and the CERN Discovery Program have been the highlight of 2015 to date. Being selected to represent my country at this prestigious forum was not only inspiring but also enjoyable and that’s what makes the LIYSF so special to me.”

“I hope that by sharing my LIYSF experience will inspire others who are interested in pursuing a career in science, and I hope that one day I too can play my part in bettering the world.”

Emma Wignell LIYSF 2015

LIYSF 2015

“Why I joined Rotaract” – Jake Weragoda, NYSF Alumnus, 2006

Like many, I found NYSF in 2006 to be a life changing experience. The opportunity opened my perspective to challenge the status quo, and in turn, I moved from Bendigo in regional Victoria to Sydney for university. Following NYSF, I was selected to travel to Africa with the NYSF for the South African National Youth Science Week – a trip where I met my wife. I was also offered the opportunity to return as a staffie in 2007.

At the University of New South Wales, I studied a Bachelor of Science (Biotechnology) and a Diploma in Innovation Management. These qualifications saw me start as a Graduate at Campbell Arnotts in their R&D Program, and became a Product Development Technologist developing flavours and biscuits for the Shapes range. I have recently moved on to a Project Manager role at Cerebos, a food and beverage company known for brands such as Gravox, Fountain and Saxa.

When I arrived for uni in Sydney, I took on a different challenge. Understanding the generous support of Rotary to NYSF, I wanted to give something back. With Rotaract being a program of Rotary for 18-30 year olds, I took the opportunity to join the Rotaract Club on campus.

Initially, I found Rotaract to be a great avenue for community service, getting involved in volunteering and fundraising projects. Our club partnered with the likes of Guide Dogs, Ronald McDonald House and Habitat for Humanity. I soon realised that Rotaract was much more – a chance to develop my own skills.

Jake Weragoda Rotoract

Jake Weragoda Rotoract

I took on the role of Rotaract Club President, and then District Rotaract Representative, a role in which I coordinated the 11 Rotaract Clubs in the southern Sydney and Wollongong region. In this role, I met a lot of great people and coordinated a regional team to run a Charity Harbour Cruise on Sydney Harbour, a fancy dress party that raised $6,600 for the Rotary Foundation and the End Polio campaign. In 2012, I was recognised as a Paul Harris Fellow for dedication to community service. This included a donation of $1000 to the Rotary Foundation in my name.

This inspired me to do even more. I ventured to Thailand to an international Rotaract convention and never looked back. I gained an appreciation for the global network of the organisation – 200,000 Rotaractors and 1.2M Rotarians worldwide in almost every country, and have built some amazing friendships along the way. I participated in a service project in rural Thailand, have travelled around Australia to Rotaract events and conferences, attended the International Rotary Youth Leadership Award (IRYLA), and was recently invited to speak at a Rotaract Training program in California.

The personal and professional development opportunities in Rotaract are endless. Local and international community service is a huge part of the organisation, but the skill building and social networks are profound and there for the taking. In the past few years, I have held positions on the Rotaract Australia board, including my current role as Chairperson.

For Rotaract Australia, I manage a team of six and oversee the committees for the annual Australian Rotaract Conference and Australian Rotaract Games. I started a national Rotaract magazine, created partnerships with ShelterBox – facilitating clubs to raise $9,000 for the Nepal earthquake disaster – and Movember, in which we’ve raised $18,000 in the last two years. I co-developed a national Rotaract Training program for Rotaract leaders, and have been a guest speaker at over 50 Rotary and Rotaract events. In 2013, I was named Australian Rotaractor of the Year.

The tie between Rotary, Rotaract and NYSF is strong and I encourage you to embrace the opportunities available to you by remaining involved in the organisation

Find out more about Rotaract www.rotaract.org.au or contact Jake directly chairperson@rotaract.org.au

 

The NYSF from a parent’s perspective

Daniel Lawson from Kingaroy in Queensland attended the NYSF in January 2015 and has recently returned from London as one of the 25 NYSF Alumni representing Australia at the London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF). Here is what his mum Nicki Rossi has to say about the positive effects that attending the NYSF and LIYSF have had on her son.

“First of all thank you for giving Daniel the opportunity to attend both the National Youth Science Forum in Canberra and for selecting Daniel to attend the London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF) which includes a trip to Geneva visiting the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

it does not matter where you live, if you are willing to apply yourself you can achieve whatever you set out to do

Before the NYSF, Daniel was veering towards studying engineering but the NYSF experience helped him to decide which career path he wanted to focus on – the field of scientific research. He thoroughly enjoyed the lectures and activities that he attended. He enjoyed meeting the NYSF staffies, aunts and uncles and the other students who attended the program.

One of his fundraising events for the trip to Canberra involved running a stall at the yearly Goomeri Pumpkin Festival where he sold a mixed variety of timberwork, bric-a-brac, soft toys etc. He spent the whole day talking to people about his trip and what he wants to do at University. It was great to see him interacting with people. He raised $900 that day.

The Murgon Rotary Club (D9600) in Queensland, who supported Daniel’s attendance, invited him to present about his experiences to members of the club. They were impressed with his presentation skills and how he answered their questions. Prior to going, he was very quiet but on his return he was much more confident. He had clearly matured since his NYSF experience.

Daniel is passionate about influencing other year 11 students interested in the program. He has written a couple of articles for the school newsletter, promoting the NYSF including details of how to apply. He also included his contact information to answer prospective students’ questions.

When he was successful in being selected to go to the LIYSF program, we were very excited. It also goes to show that it does not matter where you live, if you are willing to apply yourself you can achieve whatever you set out to do.

Daniel Lawson 2015 in London

Daniel Lawson 2015 in London

Daniel Lawson at Trafalgar square NYSF 2015

Daniel Lawson 2015 in London

Most people think that kids from a small country school are missing out … (but) his teachers work with him to supply him with challenging assignments

Most people think that kids from a small country school are missing out. Daniel attends Goomeri State School with approximately 110 students, situated 235 kilometres northwest of Brisbane. His teachers work with him to supply him with challenging assignments as he found class work relatively easy.

From what I can glean from photos received and the short messages I saw on Skype he had a great time in London and was very busy. We believe that this program will give him an opportunity to make friends from different countries and will provide him with a great base for travel and job opportunities in the future.

Daniel was selected as the Nanango District Youth Parliament Representative and has been busy working with other young members. He applied for this position, as he strongly believes that scientific research is important to Australia’s future and he hopes to make a difference.

He was also granted an RSL Academic Award of $5000, which helped fund his NYSF & LIYSF trips. Along with other young Queenslanders, he was presented with a certificate and plaque from Bond University on the Gold Coast in early March.

As parents, we did not quite grasp the importance and opportunity that the NYSF would provide for Daniel until we attended the orientation meeting in Brisbane where Rotary outlined what the program was about and how it helps those attending the two-week program in Canberra to consider their future study careers options. We believe that it has been beneficial in so many ways and the friends he is making along the way is an added bonus.”

Nicki Rossi, Proud Mum

Edited by Julie Maynard

 

Hannah Worsley, NYSF 2015 Alumna, is Lions Youth of the Year in Public Speaking

Alumna Hannah Worsley has won the national final of the Lions Youth of the Year trophy for best public speaker.

To reach the national final, Hannah had to win club, regional, district then state finals.

“Winning the public speaking competition was an incredible feeling, because the other competitors are truly talented people, said Hannah, 2015 NYSF Alumna.

“Public speaking is something I love, so it’s an achievement that means a lot to me. Really, it was the icing on the cake, because the experience I got from the whole program, including experience with interviews and making a lot of new friends, was the most rewarding part.”

To win the national final, Hannah had to answer two questions, “Freedom of speech, how far is to far?” and then “How should we secure Australia’s energy future?”

“There is a lot of preparation that goes on behind the scenes to be up to date on current affairs, so that you’re as ready as you can be for the impromptu section. But being put on the spot is always a little nerve wracking, as that minute before you get the question is always full of anticipation for what you might be asked.“

Hannah Worsley - Imperial College London

Hannah Worsley – Imperial College London

Hannah has just returned from London where she represented the NYSF at the London International Youth Science Forum.

“There are no words to describe the feeling of sitting in an opening ceremony of a youth forum with 470 students from 65 different countries, or walking around Cambridge University, or looking at the machines where over a third of the human genome was mapped,” she said.

“I’ve had my eyes opened to so many different forms of science, not just the research side of things. The experience was honestly incredible, and I got the chance to make a whole lot of new friends and connections-the only downside is that they all live so far away.”

Hannah is currently undertaking her NYSF student staff leader training for the January 2016 session.

By Julie Maynard

NYSF Alumni wins 2015 Colombo Plan Scholarship

NYSF alumni Ee-Faye Chong has been awarded a prestigious scholarship to study in Asia and the Pacific in 2015 as part of the Federal Government’s New Colombo Plan.

Ee-Faye was one of six ANU students selected for the scholarship; they are studying a range of degrees in the sciences, International Relations and law.

It’s extremely exciting to be part of this opportunity. I hope I will be able to represent Australia and my university to the best of my ability

Ee-Faye is thrilled to be heading off to Tohoku University Japan. “It’s extremely exciting to be part of this opportunity. I hope I will be able to represent Australia and my university to the best of my ability,” she said.

The selection criteria were not only based on academic skills but also on each student’s leadership qualities and experience with living away from home. “I think what really helped me was having firm goals regarding what I wanted to do on exchange and being able to convey my ideas to the panel. It was invaluable to ask people to proofread my application and practice interview questions with me.”

The New Colombo Plan scholarships, valued at up to $65,000 each, will allow each student to spend up to 12 months at an overseas university, with an optional further six months as an intern.

The New Colombo Plan was launched by Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop in December 2013, as a platform for Australia’s engagement with Asia.

Ee-Faye Chong

NYSF Alumni Ee-Faye Chong wins 2015 Colombo Plan Scholarship

 

Nobel prize ceremony tops off the year for Aussie science students

To top off their final year at high school two 2014 NYSF students headed to Sweden early in December to take part in the Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar (SIYSS).

Matt Snell and Dechlan Victory in Stockholm for the 2014 Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar

Matt Snell and Dechlan Victory in Stockholm for the 2014 Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar

Facilitated through the NYSF’s International Program, Matt Snell from Shepparton, Victoria and Dechlan Victory from Adelaide, South Australia were selected to attend the SIYSS after applying for a spot in one of the international programs in February. Both attended the NYSF in January 2014 and were advised of their successful selection in March, so it has been a long wait for them. NYSF students selected for other NYSF international programs travelled in May-July to South Africa, Canada, Copenhagen, Boston and London.

Having finished their year 12 studies, both of these young men were excited to be heading off to Stockholm, despite the extreme cold they will face.

Before he left Matt Snell commented, “In some ways it is a daunting feeling to be heading to Europe for a month, with only one of my peers for company. Yet, at the same time, I am extremely excited. I have been preparing all year for this program by fundraising, writing the presentation for the seminar, and planning for the trip. Now I am finally able to make use of it all.”

Spending time with 25 students from all over the world, who are passionate about the same thing – science

Matt says he is most looking forward to experiencing the mix of cultures at the Stockholm Seminar. “Spending time with 25 students from all over the world, who are passionate about the same thing – science – is a very unique opportunity. Add to that the chance to meet Nobel Laureates … I really can’t wait!”

The SIYSS is a week-long event for young scientists and is held in conjunction with activities related to the Nobel Prize Award Ceremonies, including attending the Nobel Ball. As well as a comprehensive social program, the students will attend lectures and seminars, and make a presentation of their own research.

Matt was interviewed by ABC Shepparton before he left for Stockholm. Listen to the interview here.

Nobel prize ceremony tops off year for young Aussie science students

To top off their final year at high school two 2014 NYSF students headed to Sweden early in December to take part in the Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar (SIYSS).

Facilitated through the NYSF’s International Program, Matt Snell from Shepparton, Victoria and Dechlan Victory from Adelaide, South Australia were selected to attend the SIYSS after applying for a spot in one of the international programs in February. Both attended the NYSF in January 2014 and were advised of their successful selection in March, so it has been a long wait for them. NYSF students selected for other NYSF international programs travelled in May-July to South Africa, Canada, Copenhagen, Boston and London.

Having finished their year 12 studies, both of these young men were excited to be heading off to Stockholm, despite the extreme cold they will face.

Before he left Matt Snell commented, “In some ways it is a daunting feeling to be heading to Europe for a month, with only one of my peers for company. Yet, at the same time, I am extremely excited. I have been preparing all year for this program by fundraising, writing the presentation for the seminar, and planning for the trip. Now I am finally able to make use of it all.”

Spending time with 25 students from all over the world, who are passionate about the same thing – science

Matt says he is most looking forward to experiencing the mix of cultures at the Stockholm Seminar. “Spending time with 25 students from all over the world, who are passionate about the same thing – science – is a very unique opportunity. Add to that the chance to meet Nobel Laureates … I really can’t wait!”

The SIYSS is a week-long event for young scientists and is held in conjunction with activities related to the Nobel Prize Award Ceremonies, including attending the Nobel Ball. As well as a comprehensive social program, the students will attend lectures and seminars, and make a presentation of their own research.

Matt was interviewed by ABC Shepparton before he left for Stockholm. Listen to the interview here.

NYSF International Program can take you places

NYSF offers a range of International Program opportunities each year, and applications open early in February after the January Sessions have completed. 2015 session students are encouraged to look at the reports on the NYSF system from previous years’ participants, and seriously consider whether this is something they would like to apply for. Although the costs may seem a lot, the opportunities and benefits are significant, as the reports from students will attest to. But it is something that needs to be discussed with parents, school and families — year 12 is a very busy time.