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

The future looks bright at Shine Dome

It’s the weekend and the middle Saturday morning of Session A NYSF 2015 began with a group photo outside of the Australian Academy of Science’s Shine Dome – as many many NYSF students have done before. Inside Dr TJ Higgins representing the Australian Academy of Science talked to the students about the Academy, its history, the unique Shine Dome building, and the important role the Academy plays in Australia’s science community.

The multidisciplinary forum that followed looked at where Australian science would be in 30 years’ time – a broad topic, to say the least!

Dr Matthew Hill – winner of the 2014 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year (one of the PM’s Prize for Science winners) – leads work in the use of the ultraporous Metal Organic Frameworks (MOFs) for applications in gas storage and separation at the CSIRO. Dr Hill facilitated an interesting discussion on what the world could look like in 2050 – including a debate on global warming. His team are working with 3D printers and recently developed and tested a printed horse shoe and designed and printed a 3D dragon after receiving a letter from an inquisitive young student.

The future looks bright - Academy of Science Shine Dome - Session A 10 January 2015

The future looks bright –  Australian Academy of Science Shine Dome – Session A 10 January 2015

The second speaker, Dr Katherine Locock, OCE Postdoctoral Fellow at CSIRO, discussed her research into antibiotic resistance and the impending crisis we face as antibiotics no longer work for common illnesses.

The third speaker,  Dr Katrina Konstas, a member of Dr Hill’s team at the CSIRO, led an informative discussion about her work with hydrogen for use in hybrid cars.

There was plenty of time for the audience to ask questions – mostly centred on study paths including choosing a PhD topic and career options.


Question time – Australian cademy of Science Shine Dome – Session A 10 January 2015

Dr Hill’s advice to students when commencing study at university was to “learn to study efficiently and be highly organised. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself in choosing a degree. You can always use your completed credits toward another degree. … There are opportunities to study bridging courses which help you move into your desired degree”, he said.


Question time – Australian Academy of Science Shine Dome – Session A 10 January 2015

Dr Locock suggested that students, “should not get bogged down into one career path – don’t pigeon-hole yourself as you will be working across a range of science disciplines – not just the field you chose to study.” For her, studying a PhD was difficult but rewarding. “80 per cent of what you research doesn’t work and this was difficult to overcome at the start.”

Dr Katrina Konstas told the audience that she didn’t do to well at high school; in fact she almost failed year 12 physics. She moved into chemistry at university and excelled. “I couldn’t believe how easy I found chemistry and how much I loved it. After high school I never wanted to go to university. It was a last minute decision. I was the first person in my family to study at university and I’m so glad I did,” she said.

All three speakers emphasised that when looking for work it was beneficial to use existing networks. The networks students are forming at the NYSF are crucial. When applying for work, students can  either apply using those networks,approaching the organisations they wish to work for, or through traditional approaches.


Students quiz Dr Katherine Locock after the forum – Australian Academy of Science Shine Dome – Session A 10 January 2015

From the Director

Welcome to the December edition of NYSF Outlook.

At the time of writing there are 400 young people who are preparing to travel to Canberra for the January 2015 NYSF Sessions. This map shows just how widespread our reach is for young Australians.

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 3.37.10 pm

To say that there is a sense of excitement building would be an understatement! I know of at least one group of students that are already ‘counting the sleeps’. Thanks to the support of The Australian National University (ANU), in 2015 we have been able to increase the number of students by 40 places for each of the sessions, giving us a total cohort of 200 per session.

Our domestic students will be joined this year with students from Germany, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada and for the first time Brazil and Fiji. The international participation over January is relatively small, however is well justified in terms of the opportunities it provides for our young people for knowledge and cultural exchange. This also exposes the international students to the study and career opportunities that are available within Australia, which they share in their home communities.

One of the highlights of the NYSF January sessions this year will be the Science Dinners. Instead of having a single keynote speaker as we have had in the past, the dinners this year will be run as a symposium. We have secured some of the best thinkers, researchers and practitioners to participate and offer us their insights. The theme for the Session A Science Dinner is engagement of Women in Science and Engineering (WISE). The Session C Science Dinner will focus on Indigenous Engagement and Knowledge with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). We believe both of these discussions and the Q&A sessions that will follow will be stimulating for the students. If you are interested in coming along to the dinners, you can buy a ticket.  Email nysf@nysf.edu.au and we can send you the information.

For the 2015 National Science Teachers’ Summer School (NSTSS) we will be welcoming 50 science teachers from across the country from primary, secondary and senior secondary schools. The NSTSS is an NYSF program that is currently conducted in collaboration with the Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA). The aim of the NSTSS is to immerse teachers in cutting edge STEM research and feed their – often infectious – motivation. The NSTSS challenges the participants to consider the question, “What do we want our students to know about science?” The resulting discussions regularly transcend curriculum frameworks. I would like to acknowledge Questacon and the Federal Education Minister, Minister Pyne, for their financial support for this much-needed program. Negotiations are ongoing to secure the longevity of NSTSS program into the future with the hope of it being extended to other locations.

On behalf of the NYSF Council, Executive and everyone here at NYSF Central, I would like to extend our best wishes for the Festive Season and New Year! And to the 2015 students … we’ll be seeing you soon!

NYSF January Sessions 2014 Orientations begin

The Orientation Session for the  NYSF January Sessions 2014 of Rotary District 9710 was conducted in Canberra early in September.  It’s always good to get the first session completed!

Orientations are a useful way for NYSF to communicate directly with students and their families, and Rotary representatives, about the NYSF and its programs.

This year, Joy Burch MLA, the ACT Minister for Education and Training, welcomed the students to NYSF, and congratulated them on their achievement of being selected to attend the January Sessions.  The ACT Government supports NYSF’s January Sessions and Next Step programs, through the Economic Development Directorate.

Joy Burch MLA ACT Minister for Education and Training

Joy Burch MLA ACT Minister for Education and Training

NYSF Orientation for January Sessions 2014,  students with ACT Minister for Education, Joy Burch MLA

Some of the students from Rotary District 9710 with ACT Minister for Education and Training, Joy Burch MLA at NYSF Orientations

Rotarian Ian  with Belinda Aquilina, daughter Amy Aquilina and Georgia Love at District 9710 NYSF Orientation in Canberra

Rotarian Ian Ezergailis with Belinda Aquilina, NYSF 2014 students Amy Aquilina from St George’s Basin and Georgia Love from Cambewarra at District 9710 NYSF Orientation in Canberra

Sincere thanks and acknowledgement go to both CSIRO for its ongoing support for NYSF and its activities and specifically for hosting the first 2014 Orientation Session, and also to the ACT Government for its ongoing support.