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


2014 NYSF Chiefs of Staff

Congratulations to Stuart McKelvie, Caroline Leach and Tayla McKechnie, the three former NYSF students who will each be coordinating the three January Sessions of the NYSF in 2014 as the chiefs of staff.

As volunteers they are directly responsible, with the mentoring of the Director and his team, for 150 domestic and international students, the student staff team of 20+, and the smooth running of all of the activities, forums and lab visits during their respective sessions.

Stuart, from Queensland, attended the January Sessions in Perth in 2010, and returned as a staffie in 2011 and 2012.  Stuart was selected by the Dalby Rotary Club, and attended the South African National Youth Science Week in 2010. Stuart has just finished a Bachelor of Commerce at Bond University.

Caroline is from the south coast of New South Wales, and attended the January Sessions in 2011 having been selected by the Shoalhaven Sunrise Rotary Club.  Caroline was a staffie in 2012 and 2013 and attended the APEC Youth Science Festival Thailand in 2011. Caroline is studying a double Bachelor Degree of Advanced Science/ Arts at the University of New South Wales, where she hopes to focus on medical Microbiology and Immunology.

Tayla, from Phillip Island in Victoria, attended the January Sessions in 2010, selected by the Phillip Island and San Remo Rotary Club.  Tayla also attended the National Youth Science Week in South Africa in 2010.  She was a staffie in 2011 and 2012.

Tayla is studying a Bachelor of Science, majoring in Genetics, at the University of Melbourne and would like to go on to complete a Masters of Genetics and pursue a career in research here or overseas.

I am honoured to be in this position and again be part of the team that facilitates that experience

“The NYSF is always such a positive experience for both the students and student staff involved, and I am honoured to be in this position and again be part of the team that facilitates that experience. I’m looking forward to the challenges that Session will no doubt bring for me, and the staff team. Stu, Caroline and myself have had a lot of support from each other and the entire student staff team throughout the year so we know we’ve got an incredible staff team for the 2014 Sessions. I’m just very excited to be involved in the NYSF again!”

Each of these young people has displayed outstanding leadership skills to be selected to take on this role, as well as a high level of commitment to the NYSF.

“In the lead up to the Sessions, they have been juggling considerable study and personal responsibilities along with their undertaking to manage the NYSF in January,” says NYSF Director, Damien Pearce.  “Their ability to do this illustrates their capacity to manage task before them and the commitment of the NYSF to facilitating a Forum that is for youth, run by youth; as well as the holistic development of young people who are well positioned to be leaders of the future”.

NYSF Annual Report 2013

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

Trek develops NYSF Staff Leaders

The NYSF leadership training program took place over the April ANZAC day period in 2013 at the ANU’s Kioloa campus on the south coast of NSW.

After the January Sessions, participants selected peers from their group who they considered to be suitable for volunteer staff leadership training. The training program is designed to prepare these potential group staff members to conduct interviews and orientations for the incoming NYSF cohort of 2014. It also outlines the role of a group staff member in the January Sessions.

Participants reviewed the philosophy of the NYSF and looked at the program from the perspective of a student staff member.

the large amount of work that goes into running NYSF

They learned about the large amount of work that goes into running NYSF, and also demonstrated the leadership qualities required of a member of the student staff team.

As well as reviewing the role description of a student staff member, much of the training was based on developing / improving skills in public speaking and presenting, methods of communication, time management, team work and independent decision making.

Over and above this though, ANZAC training allowed potential staff to re-connect, catch up with friends and student staff from the sessions in January, and to develop new friendships with those who attended the other Sessions. The activities over the days of training, whether formal, or fun and relaxing, all culminated to develop an incredibly enthusiastic team of student staff – a dynamic group that is determined to make the January Sessions of NYSF the best it can possibly be.

Following on from the April camp, the potential staff (split into four smaller groups) participated in a week-long leadership trek through the D’Aguilar Range in South East Queensland. While this trek did not have the same direct link to the role as student staff as the ANZAC training, the leadership skills that had been developed were tried and tested during the hike, allowing for an invaluable experiences for all involved.


As well as teaching the true meaning of being a leader, this trek allowed those who participated to learn about themselves and to acknowledge their strengths and weaknesses, and to see their full potential so that they can not only the best leaders possible, but also the best people possible.

Thanks to Lauren Walker, from Taree — 2013 NYSF Alumnus — who provided the background information for this story.