From the CEO – the year in review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr Damien Pearce

Chief Executive Officer

August 2017

Forty Students to benefit from new NYSF Equity Scholarship

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

Biological Anthropology, ANU College of Arts and Social Science

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NYSF Rotary District Chair, Stephen Lovison talks about student selections

Rotary, NYSF,

“I honestly had no idea the depth and breadth of the program”

From our larger cities to small regional towns in outback Australia, Rotarians have been super busy over the past few months promoting the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) and conducting student selections for the NYSF 2018 Year 12 Program.

We spoke to NYSF Rotary District Chair (DC), Stephen Lovison from Sydney (D9675), about his involvement with Rotary and the NYSF Student Selection process.

Stephen first joined Rotary in 1999 as a Rotaractor and has been president of his Rotary Club, Como-Jannali, twice and served on numerous district boards.

“(I joined Rotary) primarily to give back to my local community and to assist overseas causes championed by Rotary International.  I like the fact that club members are local community leaders, but the beneficiaries of our volunteer work could be anywhere on the planet,” Stephen said.

“When the opportunity for NYSF District Chair became available I decided to try something different. I honestly had no idea the depth and breadth of the program until I got working on it – it’s been challenging and rewarding all the same.”

Rotary Liaison Officer on the NYSF Board, Rob Woolley, estimated that last year Rotarians volunteered more than 20,000 hours to the NYSF in promoting the program and conducting student selections.  Rotary has over 30,000 members, 1,100 clubs in 21 Districts throughout Australia, giving students from all corners of the country the opportunity to attend the NYSF.

“Rotary provides a massive logistic service when it comes to student identification, interview and selection. We rely on our network of business and community leaders to ensure the most suitable candidates are put forward (to district selection),” Stephen said.

This year the NYSF Year 12 Program will be expanding, allowing 600 students to attend in either Canberra or Brisbane.  Stephen added that the program provided a great opportunity for students who were interested in the STEM fields of study.

“Experience and exposure to the top minds and resources in STEM at the level NYSF provides is unrivalled. If you can get access to this as a young person and springboard your career in STEM because of this opportunity, go for it.”

Rotary, NYSF

This year the NYSF is offering 40 Equity Scholarships of $1000 each to students who may need assistance to attend the Year 12 Program.  Stephen believes this will encourage a more diverse range of students to apply.

“There are a number of schools and districts where, for various reasons, a program such as this may be deemed “out of reach”.  In keeping with Rotary and NYSF’s commitment to making the program viable to all students, the Equity Scholarship should hopefully open more doors for these students.”

And Stephen’s advice to students thinking of applying to the NYSF …

“Jump on the NYSF website and do some research, then make contact with your local Rotary Club. We are here to guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have.”

“In our district, we look for any student with a keen interest in the STEM fields, who is community and culturally open minded, and is willing to share and collaborate with their peers and mentors.”

Stephen said feedback from students who have participated in the NYSF Year 12 Program is a testament to its success and value.

“We have not had anything but praise for the NYSF team and the program itself from every returning student! The phrases “changed my life” “wonderful and challenging two weeks” “would recommend to anyone” feature heavily in the post-program reports sent to DCs.”

“In broad terms, alumni have gone on to various university courses and careers in science, healthcare, astronomy, and engineering. Several have joined Rotaract and/or Rotary and we’re glad to see that investment coming full circle.”

For more information about the NYSF Year 12 Program go to https://www.nysf.edu.au

Scientists + Chocolate = Disaster Relief

“ShelterBox is made up of people who believe in shelter as a human right – that shelter from the chaos of disaster and conflict is vital. No ifs. No buts.”

During the NYSF 2017 January Sessions students turned their love of chocolate into a fundraising event. Through the sale of chocolates during session, NYSF students raised $1000, and elected to sponsor a ShelterBox.

What is a ShelterBox you may ask?  ShelterBox is an international disaster relief charity that delivers emergency shelter and vital aid to people affected by disaster worldwide. Working closely with Rotary (90% of ShelterBox deployments involve local Rotary clubs), aid supplied comes in the form of ShelterBoxes and ShelterKits. Sturdy green ShelterBoxes contain family-sized tents specially designed to withstand the elements and provide people with temporary shelter until they can start the process of rebuilding a home. ShelterKits contain essential tools people need to start repairing and rebuilding homes straight away. Kits and boxes also contain the items that help transform shelter into a home – like cooking sets, solar lights and activity sets for children.

Shelterbox, Rotary, NYSF, National Youth Science Forum

Chief Executive Officer of Shelterbox Australia, Mike Greenslade, said the Shelterbox would provide much needed relief to a family suffering after a disaster.

“ShelterBox is made up of people who believe in shelter as a human right – that shelter from the chaos of disaster and conflict is vital. No ifs. No buts. This drives us to transform the support of Rotary, our donors, fundraisers and volunteers into the hope and power of families all over the world – the power to rebuild homes, lives and communities.”

Most recently ShelterBox has provided aid to people affected by the conflict in Syria, flooding in Peru and the Columbian landslides.

Mr Greenslade highlighted the important role science plays in providing a high quality ShelterBox that meets the needs of those affected.

“I’m thrilled that January’s National Youth Science Forum students chose to support disaster relief by sponsoring a ShelterBox. There is plenty of science contained in our green boxes, from the water filters capable of removing microbiological hazards and heavy metals to the compact, inflatable solar lights. Then there’s our relief tent, capable of withstanding 90 kilometre per hour winds, tropical rains, UV protected and vector proof.

The box sponsored by the NYSF will make a world of difference to a family who has lost everything to disaster and help them get back on their feet. My heartfelt thanks to all those that contributed.”

Where will our ShelterBox be going?  We will have to wait and see, each box bears its own unique number so we can track it online all the way to its recipient country following deployment.  We’ll keep you posted about its final destination!

To find out more about ShelterBox or to donate go to http://www.shelterboxaustralia.com.au

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.

nysf-sessionc-sciencedinner-15

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.”