The Next Step was Brisbane

More than 70 students from the 2014 January Sessions of the National Youth Science Forum took part in the Brisbane Next Step program, which was held in April.

Brisbane Next Step 2014A full day was spent at our partner university, The University of Queensland, where students learned about life on campus at UQ.

UQ Next Step Brisbane 2014

They visited the Queensland Brain Institute, and research labs investigating speed breeding and plant diseases, as well as the scanning electron microscope.

Dr Marc Kamke from Queensland Brain Institute

Dr Marc Kamke from Queensland Brain Institute

“My favourite part of the UQ visit was actually the session I did in the afternoon on animal diseases,” says Kass from NSW. “I really enjoyed being able to roam the lab and ask questions about different aspects of the research taking place there. Since I was in such a small group and the scientists were so friendly, we were able to be less formal and have more of an open dialogue, which I found more interesting and informative.”

Jennifer from NSW says, “Professor Frederic Meunier was engaging and funny! Brilliant! I loved the facilities at QBI and the content. The electron microscopy facility was awesome and our presenters were fun and engaging!”

The Queensland Institute of Medical Research’s Berghofer Institute hosted a group of students in their teaching labs, where Dr Simone Cross (pictured below) conducted a hands-on experiment identifying anti-microbial agents.

QIMR Lab visit Brisbane Next Step 2014 Simone Young QIMR Lab Visit Brisbane Next Step 2014  QIMR Lab visit 3 Brisbane Next Step 2014

“This was my favourite activity of Brisbane Next Step!” says Brittany from NSW. “The presentation, whilst quite in-depth, was interesting and easy to follow, and it was great to perform a hands-on activity.”

The Queensland University of Technology (QUT) also hosted the students for an afternoon tour of The Cube, QUT’s Science and Engineering Centre.

QUT Brisbane Next STep 2014

Nobel Laureate, Professor Brian Schmidt (pictured below) was also visiting the QUT campus, and kindly found time to speak to the students about his research and life in science.

Professor Brian Schmidt makes a point at Brisbane Next Step QUT 2014

“Brian Schmidt’s (presentation) was perfect. He made it clear that you should always ask questions; never doubt yourself, and follow what you truly are. He made it so relevant to everyone,” says Sophie from Maryborough, Qld.

Students also visited the State Library of Queensland’s The Edge facility, which is designed to provide an opportunity to explore creativity across the arts, technology, science and enterprise.  At The Edge, students did two activities – one focusing on memory, the other on electronics.

“The Edge was the most fantastic and inspiring visit,” says Claudia from the ACT. “I felt really encouraged by their attitude of  ‘if you want to do something, go ahead and do it!’. Loved their programs and ideas. All the presenters were friendly and enthusiastic.”

University of Queensland also hosted a Speed Date a Scientist night, where students could talk to researchers about their career paths and work, and the Young Scientists of Australia Brisbane Chapter hosted a trivia quiz.

Speed date a scientist at UQ Brisbane Next Step 2014

The final evening was spent cruising the Brisbane River, letting off steam and munching on “the biggest pizzas in the southern hemisphere” – a claim that wasn’t an overstatement.

River cruise Brisbane Next Step 2014

Be inspired, become inspiring

As the home of nuclear science and technology in Australia, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) offers a unique and exciting opportunity to work alongside and be inspired by some of Australia’s leading researchers.

Thousands of Australians benefit from work undertaken at ANSTO every year. Our scientists use nuclear research techniques to answer some of the big questions facing society today. Challenges such as understanding our environment, mapping the brain, treating and preventing diseases such as cancer, and reconstructing our world with better materials are just some of the issues ANSTO scientists tackle.

For more information about a career at ANSTO look at the Careers section of the ANSTO website

NYSF students visited the ANSTO OPAL facility as part of the Sydney Next Step program in July 2013

NYSF students visited the ANSTO OPAL facility as part of the Sydney Next Step program in July 2013


Melbourne Next Step

The NYSF Next Step programs for 2014 kicked off in Melbourne in March, with visits to NYSF Partners CSL Ltd, GSK and The University of Melbourne.

“The purpose of the Next Step visits is to provide exposure for students who might be interested in studying at specific universities that provide us with funding, or in careers such as those provided by our partner organisations,” says NYSF Director, Damien Pearce. “Being able to provide the students with these opportunities adds real value to the program.”

Students toured the two industrial labs and facilities, and gained valuable insights into the complexities of the processes associated with the development of commercial products.

Outside CSL

Students’ comments included:

“I was surprised to hear about the breadth of jobs available in the pharmaceutical industry. I also did not expect that the flu vaccine encompassed so many eggs to produce.”

“(I learned about …) the size of the biomedical industry in Australia.”

“… the strong engineering side to the company.”

“The tour was brilliant, to be able to suit up and go around to all the different stations and seeing the whole production run was fantastic.”

“I really enjoyed how much of the facility we were able to tour as well as finding out how the products worked. It was nice being able to see the science behind products I use everyday as an asthmatic.”

The visit to partner The University of Melbourne offered students a full day of lectures, lab visits and opportunities to inspect specific areas of the university, such as the genetics and microbiology labs.  There was also opportunity to do some hands-on activities, such as gram staining.

After the visit, students commented:

“I have always wanted to go to Melbourne Uni and this cemented this even further.”

“As a student that does not study physics I was astounded about how I found the presentation ‘From the Higgs Boson to the Bionic Eye’ so interesting, entertaining and engaging. I would attribute this to the absolute passion of the speaker and his excellence in communicating this, and I wish to thank Melbourne University for this experience. All of the seminars were incredibly interesting and certainly were the highlight of Next Step. Furthermore, I am now considering applying for Melbourne as my primary choice.”

UniMelb Next Step 2014 Alistair Chandler

“It was really good to see the facilities up close, Melbourne has always been where I wanted to study but it was good to see up close where I may want to study and also to see up close the job opportunities that come from it, it was all so interesting and pretty cool to get these opportunities that most people don’t have access to.”

“I would like to thank these financial partners and encourage them to continue to support such an amazing program. The allowing of us to tour their facilities and learn about their companies is just another generous thing they have done. This forum as well as the subsequent programs nurtures the future of science in Australia and allows us insight into field of science which we may not have considered before. Thank you so much for contributing as a financial partner, personally NYSF has been life changing and I would like future generations of scientists to experience it.”

2014 NYSF Next Step dates


(Updated) Dates for the NYSF 2014 Next Step programs are as follows:


Melbourne – 6-8 March 2014

Brisbane – 9-11 April 2014

Canberra – 15-17 April 2014

Hobart – 23-24 April 2014

Sydney – 2-4 July 2014

Perth – 16-18 July 2014


Next Step programs aim to promote our Partner organisations through laboratory and site visits in capital cities across Australia.  Watch Facebook, emails and the NYSF online database for when registrations open for each program.

From the Director

The three January sessions of the 2014 National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) are behind us, with 440 Australian and International students back at home, full of new knowledge, experiences, ideas and friendships for future study and career options within science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The highlights of this year’s January Sessions are covered within this edition of NYSF Outlook, however I would like to acknowledge the active participation of the students and our student staff members. Their engagement in the whole twelve days of the program is what makes it a success, and this year was no exception.

Our access to leading research and industrial facilities is … what helps to make the NYSF special.

It is also important to acknowledge the ongoing help from the many organisations that support the NYSF by facilitating and hosting lab and site visits , as well as other activities.  Our access to leading research and industrial facilities is often unique, and again, is what helps to make the NYSF special.

And finally, we must acknowledge the financial and logistical support of all of our Partners and Sponsors, which allows us to continue this valuable program year in and year out.

I would like to extend a particular thank you to Stuart McKelvie, Caroline Leach and Tayla McKechnie who were the Chiefs of Staff (P1) for the respective sessions. This role is pivotal to the success of each session and their efforts leading the student staff team into, and during the January NYSF sessions cannot be over stated.

A common question at this time of year is ,“When do you break out the banana lounges?”  But despite popular opinion, the NYSF Office does not go into hibernation in February. Currently we are planning the Rotary District Chairs Conference where we brief our Rotary partners on the program and its latest developments and hear first hand about their members’ experiences of the program; and we are evaluating the 2014 January Sessions; we are planning for the Next Step Programs which run in school holidays through from March to July; and the Student Staff Leadership Workshop, which will be delivered before the end of July.

Additionally we are also in full swing with the organisation and selection of students for the International Program; and preliminary planning is underway for the 2015 NYSF and the National Science Teachers Summer School (NSTSS).

So while the 2014 January Sessions are behind us, we’re always planning for the next cohort of young people to come and take part in the National Youth Science Forum and show them things they’ve never considered.

Damien Pearce


NYSF Annual Report 2013

NYSF’s Annual Report 2013 is now available to view online.

Next Step concludes for 2013

The last of the NYSF Next Step programs for 2013 were delivered this month in Newcastle, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth.

Next Step offers NYSF students an opportunity to look at a range of options for tertiary study in science, technology and engineering in these main and regional centres.

Visits to industry sites are also included in Next Step, which allows students to consider employment options and how to link in their study with a wide range of career choices. NYSF Partners often host these industry visits, providing additional value to their involvement in the program and engagement with the students.

Twenty-five students visited The University of Newcastle (UoN), where they had hands-on experience programming robots; the CSIRO’s Energy Centre; Orica’s Kooragang Island facility; and the Newcastle Institute of Energy.

University of Newcastle hosted NYSF Students in July 2013, image Dean Osland, Reproduced with permission of The Newcastle Herald, © Copyright 2013

University of Newcastle hosted NYSF Students in July 2013
Image: Dean Osland, reproduced with permission of The Newcastle Herald © Copyright 2013

The Sydney Next Step attracted 114 local and interstate students, and NYSF facilitated visits to the University of Sydney; the University of Technology Sydney; the University of New South Wales; and the University of Western Sydney. NYSF partners Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, Cochlear, Orica’s Botany facility hosted visits, and the program rounded off with time at the Powerhouse Museum,  the Sydney Observatory and a cruise on Sydney Harbour.

NYSF students were hosted at University of Technology Sydney during 2013 Next Step Program image courtesy UTS

NYSF students were hosted at University of Technology Sydney during 2013 Next Step Program   (image courtesy UTS)

Maths is fun at UNSW! 2013 Next Step image courtesy UNSW

Maths is fun at UNSW! 2013 Next Step           (image courtesy UNSW)

Sydney 2013 Next Step toured the Botany Orica facility  image courtesy Orica

Sydney 2013 Next Step toured the Botany Orica facility (image courtesy Orica)

Adelaide’s program in July visited the University of Adelaide, Flinders University and the University of South Australia. Site visits were made to the Royal Institution of Australia and the Science Media Centre, Rising Sun Pictures, behind the scenes tours at Adelaide Zoo, the South Australian Museum, and Forensic Science South Australia. Nineteen (19) local and interstate students from attended this program.

Fossil inspection at The University of Western Australia - NYSF students at Perth 2013 Next Step

Fossil inspection at The University of Western Australia – NYSF students at Perth 2013 Next Step

NYSF students were hosted by partners Curtin University at Perth Next Step 2013

NYSF students were hosted by partners Curtin University at Perth Next Step 2013

The final Next Step program for 2013 was held in July in Perth and attracted 16 local and interstate students. Visits were made to the University of Western Australia, Curtin University, the Forensic Science at the ChemCentre, BHP Billiton’s nickel refinery, IBM, and partner Water Corporation (WA).

Next Step … Perth hosted at Water Corporation

Water Corporation hosted students at Perth Next Step 2013

Water Corporation hosted students at              Perth Next Step 2013

Water Corporation (Western Australia)  again hosted a session of the NYSF Next Step program in Perth in July.

Human Resources Manager Jenny Thornton welcomed the group of 15 students and shared her own career journey. Her best advice? Always keep an open mind and seize the opportunities that come your way.

Water Corporation graduates in Civil, Electrical, Mechanical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, and Chemistry all talked with the students on the day. They shared what attracted them to their field of study, what a typical day of work is like and what they enjoy most about what they do.

Graduate Electrical engineer, Eirene Conocono explained the complexity of her field of work and the safety requirements that needed to be followed.

Environmental Engineer Cheng Zhu was able to take the students for a tour of the Operations Centre as part of the visit, showing them the breadth of Water Corporation’s activities.

Besides being a positive learning experience for the visiting students, the graduates were pleased that they could share their experiences and encourage the young visitors to study and work towards a meaningful career.

From the Director

Geoff BurchfieldMid-winter here in Canberra is generally a quiet time for the National Youth Science Forum. But this year the place is buzzing with significant developments, some perhaps surprising.

First up, I have decided to step down from my role as Director of the NYSF, effective from the end of August. It’s a been a wonderful nine years for me but it’s time to move on and pursue other interests. My succession program is already in place and I feel I’m leaving the NYSF in very good hands.

The interim director, Damien Pearce, is already on board. He is a Fulbright scholar with a strong background in education. And he is no stranger to the organisation. In his former role as NYSF Assistant Director, he will be known to many who have attended the Canberra sessions over the past two years. Additionally, Damien has been closely involved in the student-staff training program.

the place is buzzing with significant developments

Recently he has been an architect of major office re-structures that have not only streamlined portfolios and brought operations under one roof but made possible some new staff changes. In particular we are delighted to welcome Amanda Caldwell as our Manager, Communications & Partnerships. Also there are now three part-time positions in our office, specifically for former NYSF students. This is an important way of maintaining connections with the student body while also providing training opportunities.

As I write, the Next Step Program is in full swing around the country and the International Program is underway too. Currently we have students at programs in Boston and Pretoria with others soon to leave for Heidelberg and London.

The re-vamped Outback Leadership Treks are also about to get underway. This year our young student staff leaders are trekking in Southern Queensland under the guidance of Adventure Out.

While I am leaving to explore new personal opportunities, I am keeping options open for the possibility of continuing my involvement in some way, so strong is my belief in NYSF, its future and the organisation’s ability to achieve change in the lives of the young people we support.

Geoff Burchfield

Taking the Next Step in Brisbane

From speed dating with a working scientist to speed breeding — of plants, not scientists — NYSF’s Next Step Program in Brisbane in April this year had it all.

The Next Step Program offers students who attend the NYSF January sessions of the National Youth Science Forum with a follow up opportunity to learn more about future study and career options in science in their local area. Next Step programs are held in other capital cities through the course of the year.

Hosted by NYSF partners in Brisbane, 108 students visited a wide range of facilities allowing them a valuable insight into just what is possible in a career in science.

QUT Sc Eng Centre

The Queensland University of Technology’s state of the art Science and Engineering Centre, provided students with an overview of the Centre and what it can offer.


Workshops at Griffith University’s Eskitis Institute, where pharmaceutical discovery research is undertaken, was a highlight for many students, who commented that it was, “Great to hear about science collaboration,” and “I really enjoyed visiting Eskitis facility as it was in an area (drug discovery) that I’m really interested in.”

UQ Labs1

The program’s second day provided an array of workshops and presentations at the University of Queensland, including talks about Scanning Electron Microscopy, Genetic Blueprints, Fuels for the Future, Animal Diseases, “Speed Breeding” and Plant Diseases, Medicinal Chemistry, and a trip to the world of quantum weirdness! And then it was off to the Anatomy Museum, also on site at UQ.

Feedback from students that attended the Brisbane Next Step program was positive, with many grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with people they had met at NYSF sessions in January.

“Interesting, especially to hear from the guy who got the pictures of the atom’s shadow and also to see the layers.”

“Amazing to see real physics lab. Would have loved more time. Speaker was cool.”

Next Step programs are operating with NYSF partners in Newcastle, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth in July in 2013.