From the Chair

Dr Craig Cormick

I am very pleased (and not just a little bit proud) to have been recently elected Chair of the Council for the National Science Summer School – the body that runs the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF).

I first became involved in the NYSF back in the distant mists of the last century, in the late 1980s, and over the years have taken part as a sponsor or guest speaker at events in Canberra and Perth. It has always given me a buzz to meet former NYSF students at universities or in workplaces (though I’m usually a bit stuck when asked, ‘Do you remember me, you talked to our NYSF group a few years ago?’).

As to my background (to save you Googling me) I have been working in science communications for over 20 years, and have, over that time, worked alongside most of the people and organisations involved in science communications and education in Australia. And I currently work at CSIRO Education, so this is not an unfamiliar space to me – although it may take me just a little time to learn all the processes and people and acronyms involved.

this is a crucial time for Australia to really ‘get it right’ in relation to science and technology education and careers

Enough of the past though, for I’m more interested in the future – in consolidating the recent changes made by the NYSF and strengthening partner relationships, to put us in good shape for what I suspect may be some challenging years ahead of us all. I think this is a crucial time for Australia to really ‘get it right’ in relation to science and technology education and careers – and programs like the NYSF are clearly an important part of helping our talented youth discover the challenges and rewards of both careers in S&T or just having a better appreciation of science thinking and science processes. And I’m confident that with the talent that we’ve got in the office, on the Council, throughout the Rotary Clubs, with sponsors and of course through our program participants, we will rise to any challenges like a pack of Mentos dropped into a bottle of Coke (try it – though not indoors).

Craig Cormick

Receptions across the country for NYSF 2014 students

Each year, NYSF students and Rotary representatives are privileged to be invited to attend functions hosted by State Governors and the Administrator in the Northern Territory at Government House in most states.

The functions aim to celebrate the students’ selection to attend the NYSF and are seen as acknowledgement of their hard work and high level of achievement. Many students travel from regional areas to attend.

Each Governor and Administrator spends time with the students, giving a brief address that focuses on a particular area of interest or concern.

NYSF Director, Damien Pearce says that these receptions are a very unique opportunity available to NYSF students and recognizes the importance that science education plays in our community.  “We sincerely thank all of the Governors and the NT Administrator and their staff members for their support this year.”

Tas Gov Reception 2013 group

Tas Gov reception 56)
Tasmanian Governor’s Reception for NYSF, September 2013


West Australian Governor’s Reception for NYSF, September 2013

Adelaide Governor's Reception 2013 1

South Australian Governor’s Reception for NYSF, October 2013

NT Administrator's REception Oct 2013

Northern Territory’s Administrator’s Reception, October 2013


Queensland Governor’s NYSF Reception, October 2013

NYSF 2014 NSW Governor's Reception 2013

New South Wales Governor’s Reception, September 2013

2014 NYSF selections announced

Selections of students to attend the 2014 January NYSF Sessions held in Canberra or Perth have been finalised.

1300 applications were received this year

1300 applications were received this year, from 21 Rotary Districts across Australia. 735 females and 528 males applied, with ten of these being of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent. 144 students will attend each session, with ten international students coming to the Canberra Sessions. Two Indigenous students will attend the Perth Session, supported by NYSF Partner, CSL Limited.

NYSF letters offering students a place in the January programs have now been issued by the corporate team in Canberra, and students are taking up their task of entering information into the NYSF database via the website portal.

Orientation sessions for the NYSF program began in Canberra early in September, and are rolling out across the country until mid October. Students are advised to contact their Rotary District Chair if they are unable to make their orientation session. The preferred option is to attend another District’s orientation, however if this is not possible, arrangements can be made for an individual briefing, but only as a last resort.

A key task for students at this stage is to draft a trial job application to be used during the Sessions draft a trial job application to be used during the Sessions in the job interview component of the program. Information on this is held in the student’s online account within the NYSF website.

News from abroad — Canada

Most of this year’s NYSF delegates to the various international programs with which NYSF is affiliated have been and returned from their trips.

Ben Galea from Bundaberg in Queensland attended the Canada Wide Science Fair (CWSF) in Alberta, Canada. The CWSF is a competition that attracts entries of science projects from students aged 12 to 18 from across Canada. The final display of 300 projects from 500 students was a comprehensive, if somewhat overwhelming, demonstration of the breadth of science issues engaging young people there.

Canada Wide Science Fair booths 2013

Canada Wide Science Fair booths 2013

The overall winner received $10,000, several scholarship offers and interviews with potential investors. Adam Noble (19) was well advanced in his research on “Silver Nano-Particle Therapy: A New Cure for Cancer”.

Ben checking out Alex's invention

Ben checking out Alex’s invention

Ben cited two other projects that caught his eye. “Sixteen year old Alex attached ultrasonic sensors to a belt and then wired them up to make a joystick tilt towards open doors and spaces, enabling the visually impaired to navigate through a building 54% more efficiently than those who use a customary walking cane. Josie (16) made pellets by grinding up orange skins to supply an E-coli rescinding supplement to cows. The talent, ideas and unending enthusiasm I saw in that week blew me away.”

The role of our Australian group was to showcase current Australian science at our stall and to choose four Canadian students to attend the NYSF in Australia in January 2014.  That was a difficult decision; they were all such motivated and highly interesting individuals.

Ben says that the opportunity to tour the Canadian Rockies and also look for fossils were other highlights of his trip.

The Australian NYSF clan,  in a cold and beautiful Banff, in Alberta, Canada

The Australian NYSF clan, in a cold and beautiful Banff, in Alberta, Canada

“It was a brilliant two weeks, which have left me with more knowledge, more friends, more memories, and more motivation in my scientific endeavours.”