NYSF’s Next Step Melbourne program very popular

The NYSF Next Step programs for 2015 kicked off in Melbourne in April, with visits to NYSF Partners CSL, GSK, Monash University, The University of Melbourne, as well as the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute (WEHI), and the Victorian Space Science Education Centre (VSSEC).

Next Step programs aim to promote our Partner organisations through laboratory and site visits in capital cities across Australia. They give the NYSF students a better understanding of the facilities available at different universities, and the kinds of jobs to which they can aspire.

“Having our industry partners open up their facilities to the students is an extremely valuable ‘add-on’,” says NYSF Director, Damien Pearce. “And our university partners love to show the students their teaching and learning facilities, residences and the other benefits of their institutions.”

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Christina from Wagga Wagga in NSW, says, “I am now seriously considering attending Melbourne University to do my Bachelor of Science and would love to gain experience working with CSL.The Next Step Program was a really good opportunity to see facilities and the universities and get a feel for the atmosphere, as well as catch up with NYSFer’s. Really well organised.”

Mahi from Melbourne, says “It was really nice talking to the scientists and seeing the different pathways they took to get where they are. The tour was really fun and the person who gave it went to NYSF ages ago!”

“I definitely like the range of topics covered because it has made me realise that there is so much more out there than what I thought. The sessions covering the specific degrees in the interest fields was extremely helpful because it gave me a clearer idea of majors and pre-requisites. Going to WEHI definitely made me want to work there and I actually have made it one of my future goals.It was so good!!!! I wish it was longer than just the four days though!!”

Oshini, also from Melbourne, says, “Each of the partners involved in the Melbourne Next Step provided valuable insight to study and life after high school, which is valuable as school sometimes doesn’t cover this content entirely.”

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The last Next Step was Sydney

The 2014 Sydney Next Step program ran in early July this year and 74 students attended over the course of the three days of the program.  Visits were made to partner organisations Cochlear, Orica, ANSTO, the University of Western Sydney – Campbelltown and Richmond campuses, and the University of New South Wales.

True to its aim of showing students real-life experiences of science, technology and engineering study and careers, the Next Step Sydney visits provided insights and examples of what they could expect in the coming years if they chose to attend these universities and work in these kinds of fields.

At Orica’s Water Treatment Plant, students visited the various parts of the facility before doing a hands-on water filtration activity.  Student comments included:

A very interesting and fascinating presentation. Really enjoyed the tour and titration was great.

Engineers are quite different from scientists.

I learned about … the actual role of a chemical engineer, which was really helpful.

I absolutely loved the visit to the Cochlear factory

At the Cochlear factory and research facility on Sydney’s north shore, the students gowned up and were shown through the factory to learn about the very specific and detailed work that is involved in making the Cochlear products.

I absolutely loved the visit to the Cochlear factory. … I particularly loved hearing from the engineer who was one of the first to develop the cochlear implant; it was incredible to be able to see the continuous development that has been going on but also to be able to understand the origins of the project and to see the way that the concept was developed into a reality.

I learned … how many different types of scientists and engineers are involved in the development and production of bio-medical technologies.

Visiting the ANSTO Discovery Centre is always popular with NYSF students, and this year was no different.  The tour through the OPAL reactor was regarded a highlight, as was the opportunity to speak to the scientists working there.

It was wonderful to see the incredible work ANTSO is doing. Was very interesting to learn just how much of an impact this organisation has on our everyday lives, and how their work is extremely beneficial to Australians and those all over the world.

I was very excited to visit ANSTO as I had been there before with school, however the tour and presentation they gave us was definitely more interesting and engaging than the one I had heard before. I really enjoyed having tour guides who were so knowledgeable and were able to answer all of our detailed questions about the reactor and what they do there. I especially loved how much passion all the staff had and their friendly nature as it made the experience personal and therefore more enjoyable.

The visit to the University of Western Sydney was divided into two sections.  In the morning, students visited the Campbelltown campus and toured the anatomy, physiotherapy and nanotechnology departments.

There is some wonderful work going on at UWS

There is some wonderful work going on at UWS; especially in the nanotechnolgy and imaging laboratory. I was astounded as to how numbers and figures can translate into knowledge expansion and, in turn, result in a more informed scientific generation. Witnessing first hand how they image particle movement is something I would never dream of having clearance to back in rural Queensland. The anatomy lab visit took me to a whole new world, one that I could never experience in my own biology class. We learnt from scientists that were specialists in that area specifically how the body is structured to function perfectly. We found the intense passion they held is what we all desire, which really relit a spark of inspiration within all of us.

 It was an incredible opportunity to be exposed to an anatomy lab so early on. It was an experience that would definitely never have been open to us if we had not attended NYSF, which makes me even more grateful for all that the NYSF has done for me and all of us year 12 students.

In the afternoon of the second day of the program, the students travelled to the Richmond campus, visiting the Hawkesbury Institute for the Environmental Sciences, organised on behalf of NYSF Partner, the Grains R&D Corporation.

It takes a lot of work to monitor and learn more about the environment! You have to be so careful of so many factors that can influence the environment.

I found a lot of the experiments and projects extremely interesting and discovered that while it may not be the area of science I want to be in, I am really interested by the research that is going on in this area.

I learnt a lot about environmental research being undertaken. I never knew it was so comprehensive – the amount of research that is going into climate change.

A full day at the University of New South Wales rounded off the Sydney Next Step, with visits to a wide range of science and engineering labs and facilities as well as talks from UNSW Student Ambassadors.

The students were really interesting and spoke eloquently and all the lab visits were awesome! Biomed was good because we had hands-on work rather than just talking. Medicine was good because the student speaker organised his information well so he was easy to listen to, but I found the whole process of medicine, even though I already knew lots about it, more daunting after listening to how difficult it is to get in the UNSW medicine. Psychology was absolutely amazing because the speaker made me thing about new concepts and got me even more interested in psychology.

 The lab visits like Chemistry and Civil engineering were extremely good and I loved how we were told a little about the department and careers in that area but also go to do some hands-on activities. It was much more engaging and interesting.


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 www.ansto.gov.au

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.