Extra 200 places for NYSF 2018 at The University of Queensland

Another 200 places will be available for year 12 students to attend the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) next January due to the NYSF’s new in-principle agreement with The University of Queensland  (UQ) announced today.

“We are very pleased to welcome The University of Queensland as our second host university next year,” said Mr Andrew Metcalfe AO, chair of the National Youth Science Forum. “This commitment from UQ will allow the NYSF to offer a wider range of experiences to all of our student participants, both in January and through our follow up programs.”

The addition of the 200 places at UQ will bring the total number of participants at the NYSF 2018 program to 600; this increase in numbers is supported through funding from the Commonwealth’s National Science and Innovation Agenda (NISA). The complete 600 student cohort will be able to access information about all of the NYSF corporate supporters and their employment opportunities along with our university hosts and supporters, through our Partners’ Days and follow up Next Step programs.

“We are excited about the possibilities for our science tour program and the access to industry that the south-east Queensland location offers the NYSF,” added Mr Metcalfe. “And more importantly, it allows us to meet the continuing and increasing demand for places at the NYSF January program from young people and their families, as they consider future options for study in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) fields.”

“This is a stand out program and a unique opportunity for students passionate about  science, engineering  and related disciplines,” said The University of Queensland’s Provost, Professor Aidan Byrne, who has been instrumental in securing the partnership between UQ and NYSF. “I have been involved in NYSF in some form since its inception and am confident that expanding the program into Queensland will provide valuable experiences and skills to those who participate.”

Applications to participate in the NYSF 2018 program open on 1 March 2017 and all documentation must be submitted by 31 May 2017. Applicants must be in year 11 in 2017 to attend the 2018 program.

 

Further information: Amanda Caldwell 0410 148 173

Welcome to the Family: NYSF 2017 Session C Volunteers

At each session of the NYSF, we welcome a series of amazing volunteers who are there for participant and student staff wellbeing and support. For 2017 Session C we welcome our Rotary Aunts and Uncles, Sandra Quintemeyer, Stephen Porter, Sue Neale, Brendan Stevenson and Vera Liondas. Furthermore, their sharing of their experiences about involvement in the program provides an opportunity for Rotary to learn more about the NYSF, with their support critical to the program’s success.

L to R: Rotary Volunteers: Sue, Vera, Stephen, Brendan and Sandra.

Sandra comes from Townsville, Queensland and has previously been on the Rotary selection panel for the NYSF in her area. She is now retired but has worked in teaching vocational training and hospitality. For Sandra, this is a great opportunity to report back to her club on the work that the NYSF does and encourage continued involvement and support for students wanting to attend the NYSF in the future.

Stephen is from Hobart in Tasmania and is a long-time member of Rotary, with his club supporting the NYSF for a number of years. He is looking forward to learning more about the program and is particularly interested in seeing science in action through the lab visits and lectures.

Sue is from Echuca in Victoria and works as a Chemistry and Mathematics high school teacher. Her keen interest in science and a desire to further promote the program in her own school prompted her to volunteer. She is looking forward to learning more about the NYSF and what students who have attended in the past have experienced.

Brendan has just finished his Bachelor of Science at Monash University in Melbourne, majoring in Biochemistry and Pharmacology. Next year he will be at The University of Melbourne doing his Honours in Biochemistry and then plans to go onto further postgraduate study. He has been active in Rotary’s community work since he was 16. He is most looking forward to the science visits, experiencing ANU and says he is excited to see the change in the students at the end of the program as they come out of their shells.

Vera is from the Rotary club of Holtoid in Sydney and has been involved with the NYSF over the last 3 years, being on the interview panel for her district. She is now retired but has worked as a science teacher at TAFE and is looking forward to seeing “if science has changed in half a century!”

Thank you to Sandra, Stephen, Sue, Vera and Brendan for your assistance over the next 2 weeks and the role that Rotary plays in the ongoing support of the NYSF.

Now let’s begin NYSF 2017 Session C and let the science begin!

 

Written by NYSF 2017 Session C Communications Interns and NYSF 2014 alumni, Veronica O’Mara and Megan Stegeman.

Faces of the NYSF 2017: Session A

In this photo above, we have the first of our volunteers supporting the NYSF 2017 Session A students and student staff: from left to right Damien Butler, Kirsten Hogg, Nigel Liggins, and Angela Forthun.

First, let’s meet Damien and Kirsten, both former participants of the NYSF (or the NSSS, back in their day).

Damien is somewhat of an NYSF veteran, first attending the program as a student in 1990, and also attending the Stockholm International Youth Science Seminar (SIYSS). He returned as a student staff member in both 1991 and 1992 before being involved in several NYSF seminars as a guest speaker. He started university with a double degree of law and chemistry, but felt attracted to law and now works as a solicitor.

Kirsten attended the NYSF in 1991, and after graduating and completing her postdoctoral studies in physics she took on the world of research as an academic. Now Kirsten works as a secondary school teacher and has been awarded the Excellence in Teaching Award by Queensland College of Teachers (QCT).

meeting all these other brilliant students your age who reflect your interests was a real eye-opener

On the first day of the NYSF 2017 Session A program, I asked them what they thought of returning to the NYSF, as well as how they feel about the NYSF experience as a whole. Their responses were enlightening:

“We were both country kids, and meeting all these other brilliant students your age who reflect your interests was a real eye-opener.”

“There is enormous diversity in the people, and without even mentioning the science the atmosphere of the NYSF was incredible.”

I can definitely relate to everything Damien was saying. Pre-NYSF you rarely have any idea of the types of amazing people and opportunities out there for you. The NYSF is incredible in that you often go to the program alone and as a result have no choice but to grow, and fast.

Since becoming a secondary teacher Kirsten has worked hard to promote the NYSF:

“Often students go to the NYSF alone and sometimes they can come home on a low because nobody in their school understands or thinks of the NYSF as anything special. But it is an incredible experience, and having been there I encourage as many students to go as I can.”

Nigel Liggins and Angela Forthun are attending the NYSF 2017 as Rotary aunts and uncles. They come from different parts of Victoria, and have been involved with the program through Rotary for some time.

Angela Forthun teaches Japanese at primary and secondary schools in Melbourne. She has been involved with the NYSF for the past 12 years, starting out by interviewing NYSF applicants for her local Rotary club and now attending the NYSF 2017 as a Rotary aunt. Angela hopes to learn more about the opportunities the NYSF presents for high school students, with the goal of sharing this knowledge with her local Rotary club in Melbourne.

Nigel is a high school science teacher at Notre Dame College in Shepparton, Victoria. His involvement with the NYSF stretches back to 1988 when he sponsored a student to attend the National Science Summer School. Almost thirty years later, Nigel’s interest in the NYSF has only grown stronger as he returns for his second session as a Rotary uncle.

Partners’ Day is the most important event in the program

“Partners’ Day is the most important event in the program, as it informs students about tertiary options and career paths that they may not yet have considered,” he said.

Damien, Kirsten, Nigel and Angela are providing valuable assistance to the NYSF, underlining the important role that Rotarians and our alumni can play in continuing the work of the organisation that runs the NYSF programs.

They can also dab.

 

By Jackson Nexhip, NYSF 2017 Session A Communications Intern and NYSF 2013 Alumnus

and Dan Lawson, NYSF 2017 Session A Communications Intern and NYSF 2015 Alumnus

Adult volunteer roles for NYSF 2017 January Sessions

The NYSF is seeking expressions of interest from volunteers keen to participate in the NYSF 2017 January Sessions  – filling the pastoral care roles of Mum/Dad or Aunt/Uncle. This would be a great opportunity for alumni who have finished their tertiary studies, have been working for a while, and would like to return to NYSF and give back to the program, or for Rotarians who are keen to learn more about how the NYSF works. However, you don’t have to be a current or former member of Rotary to apply.

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See the full position description below (including dates for 2017). If you’re interested in applying, also in the document is an application form, which is due by 31 October. Further information contact madeline.cooper@nysf.edu.au

rotary-volunteers-position-overview-2017

Please feel free to share this with any friends or family who you think might make a great Mum/Dad or Aunt/Uncle!

From the Chair

Chair of NYSF Board, Andrew Metcalfe AO (image Julie Maynard/NYSF)I am very pleased to be taking on the role of Chair of the NYSF, after 12 months as Deputy Chair. I want to acknowledge the work that Professor Tanya Monro has achieved in her two years as the Chair, particularly on the constitutional review of the organisation, and the focus on to strategic planning. Our sincere thanks to Tanya for her commitment, which is particularly of value as an alumna of the National Science Summer School (NSSS)/NYSF, and as a leading Australian scientist and educator – we are hoping that we can continue to entice her to share her insights with future cohorts of NYSF students.

Our sincere thanks to Tanya … we are hoping that we can continue to entice her to share her insights

Recently, during National Science Week, a report from the Grattan Institute identified that, “… only half of bachelor degree science graduates seeking full-time work had found it four months after completing their degrees.”  It also noted that only half of the recent science graduates who found full-time jobs reported that their qualification is required or important for their job. Three-quarters of engineering graduates however reported being in full-time work – presumably in engineering fields.

For some in the NYSF’s stakeholders, and the wider community, these findings will be somewhat disappointing and concerning – a university degree is an expensive investment, often driven by passion for a specific area. This is particularly the case in the science and technology areas, and definitely how most NYSF participants approach their tertiary study choices. To find at the end of that investment in time, effort, energy and money that your degree is not leading to a job of direct relevance will make many second guess their decision upfront.

At the NYSF, we are confident that our program’s approach actually assists in preventing this kind of disappointment.  We aim to assist our participants in exploring options, explaining the cross-collaboration that occurs in industry, and allowing a better understanding than a school-based, siloed, subject focus. We support informed decision-making for future study and careers. We also encourage the development of critical thinking skills, and illustrate how an entrepreneurial approach – which is not everyone’s bent, of course – can turn a “science career” into more than being in a lab, wearing a white coat. There are many different kinds of scientist – attending the NYSF can help to guide our participants through their decision-making, both immediately after school and into the future.

At the time of writing, all of our participants for the NYSF 2017 year 12 program have been selected by our friends and colleagues in Rotary Districts across Australia.  We look forward to welcoming the participants in January and seeing their understanding develop as a result of their involvement and investment in the NYSF opportunity.  They will have exposure to a wide variety of interesting lectures, science visits and outreach activities, supported by many in the Canberra region, but particularly at our host university, the Australian National University.

I also look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues on the Board and the corporate team to ensure the ongoing sustainability of the NYSF, its programs and the impact on the young people who participate.

Andrew Metcalfe, AO

What can a Rotarian learn from the NYSF?

Danny Mattsson recalls his NYSF experience 

Danny Mattsson is a Charter Member of Rotary Club of Hervey Bay Sunrise (District 9570) and has served as the NYSF area co-ordinator for that part of Queensland for the past seven years. As if that wasn’t enough, in 2015 and 2016, Danny supported the NYSF in a different way, by volunteering as a Rotary Uncle, and then as Rotary Dad. This experience gave him a first-hand taste of the program, its operations, and the value for the student participants.

Rotary District 9570 covers a large area of Central Queensland with NYSF selections performed through four centres within the District to reduce the need for student applicants to travel long distances. “One advantage of this process is that there are a lot more Rotarians involved in the selection process and everyone has a great time meeting such a worthy group of applicants.”

Danny (left) with NYSF participants visiting the Murray-Darling Basin Authority 2015

Danny (left) with NYSF participants visiting the Murray-Darling Basin Authority 2015

For Danny, the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) has always been a passion of his. “It has been amazing to see the student grow, from their initial discussions with the Rotary Club before they attend the January Sessions, through to seeing a totally changed person return to the club to talk about their experience some months later.”

As part of his involvement in the NYSF, Danny attended the NYSF District Chair conference in Melbourne in 2014. “As part of that event, we met with the NYSF corporate team and NYSF Rotary District Chairs, getting to know them and the program. Most importantly this session was about seeing the challenges of running the NYSF from a management perspective.”

In January 2015, Danny travelled to Canberra as an Uncle for the first week of Session A. “What a blast! Full on from the moment the first busload of students arrived. We were on call for 200 students plus the “Staffies” (student staff leaders) who run the program – providing pastoral care, general first aid and other day to day activities that a parent, or aunt or uncle might provide. It was a privilege to have the opportunity to interact with participants.”

Danny says he was particularly impressed by the student staff leaders and the role that they play in delivering the NYSF program. “Staffies are NYSF alumni who volunteer their time and undergo training throughout their year 12, for their role as leaders and role models for the students. All staffies have to be congratulated because they give up a significant amount of time during the year to be trained and then spend over two weeks of their summer holidays to help manage the operation and keep the students on track.”

Danny returned for the 2016 program, as a Rotary Dad along with a group of other adult volunteers for Session A. “The two weeks flew by, with lab and industry site visits, lectures and workshops all based around STEM activities. The experience overall was fantastic – from working with everyone in the NYSF corporate team to the Staffies, students, and our team of Aunts, Uncles, Mums and Dads.

“As a Rotarian, the biggest thing for me was seeing the 200 students develop from the initial discussion at selections, through the course of the two weeks – it really was something to behold. At the end of the experience, I think everyone matures. For student participants, they leave with a greater understanding of the direction and pathway they wish to follow. For us, the volunteers, we are left with a sense of knowing and understanding that our future and that of generations to follow will be in better hands.”

“Scientists need to listen more” – Heather Bray, NYSF Alumna 1987

The guest speaker at the NYSF 2016 Session A Rotary Dinner was Dr Heather Bray, a Senior Research Associate at the University of Adelaide, and an NYSF Alumna from 1987. In an engaging and enthusiastic talk, Dr Bray shared her experiences of the then National Science Summer School, and where her study path has taken her since then.

Dr Bray’s initial area of interest and research lay within the agriculture industry, looking at the effect of heat stroke in pigs. She discussed how her love of agriculture was largely due to the fact it combines science and humanities, two fields she finds particularly fascinating.

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Dr Heather Bray, NYSF Alumna 1987, at NYSF 2016 Session A Rotary Dinner

Dr Bray also discussed the issue of mental health in the academic world, reflecting on her personal journey dealing with grief and loss. “Sometimes life doesn’t go to plan, but it’s okay and vital to ask for help.” She reminded the audience that even if our immediate plan is not working, that does not mean we’ve failed, nor does it mean that we will fail to achieve our life goals.

In conjunction with agricultural research, Dr Bray has also worked in science communication for several years. She provided educational science programs for young children, CSIRO workshops for teenagers and educating the general public about genetically modified food – another area that she has pursued.

A key point of Dr Bray’s lecture was to remind the audience that science communication is not just about the science. “We’ve (scientists) been doing a lot of talking, but not a lot of listening.” She said that she had realised that just providing the scientific facts was not helpful in encouraging individuals to embrace change in a particular area – for example, GM foods – so in order to better understand why, Dr Bray began a Masters of Education. Dr Bray now works in the Department of History, School of Humanities at The University of Adelaide, researching the animal food industry as well as human behaviour.

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“Best audience ever!” Heather Bray on Instagram @heatherbray6

To find out more about Dr Heather Bray, please follow the link below. http://www.adelaide.edu.au/directory/heather.bray

Being the NYSF Rotary Dinner, Monica Garrett, Governor Rotary District 9710 spoke with the students about Rotary’s involvement in the NYSF; and Rotaract’s Rebecca Bamford encouraged the students to reach out to Rotary/Rotaract not only to pursue other opportunities through various youth programs, but also as a way of giving back to the community.

 

Story by Charlotte Brew,

NYSF2016 kicks off on Monday 4 January

On Monday 4 January 2016, the first of 400 year 12 science students will begin arriving in Canberra to participate in the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) 2016.

Sign 2015

 

Coming from all over Australia, the NYSF allows students the chance to explore possible options for tertiary study in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) in a supportive environment, and learn about the varied career opportunities available to them through that study path.

IMG_8723 com

Staying on campus at The Australian National University (ANU), the NYSF program comprises 196 lab visits and site tours over the two back-to-back January Sessions, as well as lectures, debates, personal development skills, and social activities.  NYSF funding partners – including Lockheed Martin Australia, CSL Ltd, and Grains R&D Corporation – will present to students about their organisations and the work that they do on Partners’ Day.

Bronte with her interest group at NYSF 2015 (image supplied)

The NYSF has operated for more than 30 years, and has a long history of encouraging young people to continue on a study and career path in STEM. Students are selected for the NYSF through Rotary clubs in their local communities, ensuring participation from regional and remote parts of Australia is high at around 40%.

As well as hearing from a wide range of exciting speakers during the program, at the NYSF 2016 Science Dinners, students will hear from two distinguished Australian scientists:

At the NYSF 2016 Science Dinners, students will hear from two distinguished speakers:

  • Dr Nick Gales, Director of the Australian Antarctic Division (Wednesday 13 January 2016);
  • Dr Ranjana Srivastava, renowned oncologist, academic and author (Wednesday 27 January 2016).

For further information about the NYSF 2016 program, contact Amanda Caldwell, 0410 148 173; Amanda.caldwell@nysf.edu.au

From the Chief Executive Officer

It is truly a privilege to lead such a dynamic and contemporary organisation.  As confirmation of places are sent to the 2016 NYSF cohort, it’s a good time to reflect on the past year.

2014-15 was a very full and rewarding year – our highlights include the success of our youth and teacher programs, particularly launching Lockheed Martin Australia as a major sponsor, collaborating with Outward Bound Australia for the delivery of the Student Staff Leadership Program, and continuous improvements to our organisational governance.

This year, we have continued to increase our efficiency of operations and improve our reporting processes, with the successful implementation of an improved financial management system. This means that we can confirm that we are operating as economically as possible and making the greatest use of the resources available.

As the NYSF January sessions are conducted for young people by young people, this year we have focused on improving the process of developing our Student Staff Leaders (Staffies). Our NYSF Student Staff Leadership program prepares the 42 Staffies for their facilitation and coordination roles during the January Sessions. It is very pleasing that the NYSF is collaborating with Outward Bound Australia to deliver this program. As part of this program, the Staffies completed skill sets in training and mentoring and also participated in an outdoor orientated experiential based learning program.

This year we also welcomed Lockheed Martin Australia as a major sponsor of the NYSF – the first plank in our strategy to attract sponsors in the program from across the different economic sectors that are powered by science, technology and engineering. This investment by Lockheed Martin is significant and reflects an understanding of the important role of outreach and extension programs such as the NYSF in encouraging young Australians to continue their studies in the science, technology and engineering spheres. We acknowledge Lockheed Martin’s vision in joining with us to continue our support for young people.

Dr Damien Pearce and Raydon Gates, AO, Chief Executive, Lockheed Martin Australia

Dr Damien Pearce and Raydon Gates, AO,     Chief Executive, Lockheed Martin Australia

Another milestone for the NYSF in 2014-15 was to increase for the first time the numbers of young people who could attend the Canberra NYSF January Sessions. As a result of the support from the Australian National University and Burgmann College we were able to increase the numbers to 200 for each of the sessions, limiting the impact of the reduction in places upon the 2014 completion of our contract to run a third session in Western Australia. Research and discussions are continuing around delivering NYSF January Sessions in additional locations in the future.

Planning for the NYSF programs begins some 18 months prior to the January of the year in which it is delivered. Plans for 2016 and 2017 are well in hand and we are looking forward to welcoming another 400 young people to participate in the program in January. We review and revise the program each year, to ensure that the participants are learning about the latest science research as well as gaining the best opportunity to explore their options for future study and career choices.

I would like to thank Professor Monro for her leadership of the NYSF and also endorse the vote of thanks that she extended to members of the Council and executive committees, office staff, student staff and Rotary friends. I would also like to acknowledge the many individuals, from across our stakeholder groups who give up their time to give lectures, and host lab and industry visits across our suite of programs.

These multiple contributions allow the NYSF to continue each year, building on the work done over the past 32 years, delivering a series of programs that make a difference to young Australians with a passion for science, and to the wider Australian community.

Dr Damien Pearce

August 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