From the CEO

Here at the NYSF we are well into planning and preparation mode. Preparations for STEM Explorer, running in Adelaide from 17-21 July are well in hand with all agreements finalised and a strong relationship now established with the South Australian Department for Education and Child Development (SA DECD). This focus on a younger age group is an important development for the NYSF, as the engagement of young people in STEM activities, with positive role models, is vital for our futures.

In preparation for the third session of the NYSF Year 12 Program to run at the University of Queensland next January, I was recently in Brisbane and enjoyed meeting with the current and incoming Rotary District Governors, all of whom are greatly pleased by the opportunity to welcome the NYSF to their home turf and willing to offer all the support that they can. We are all excited about the new opportunities this new location will offer us, in the form of the specialised research institutes, STEM based organisations and other centres that are unique to the Brisbane STEM landscape.

Botany & Pond dipping at NYSF, Australian National Botanic Gardens

To help with the NYSF’s expanding repertoire of programs, I am very pleased to welcome two new staff members to the team. Ellen and Mizaan have joined us as Program Officers and both bring sound skills and experience to the team. Fortunately, Ellen and Mizaan were also able to join us for an afternoon tea held in April, which the NYSF hosted as a thank you to the NYSF 2017 Year 12 lab visit providers, partners and other supporters who offered their time and enthusiasm to help run lectures, tours, workshops and more in January.

Since opening on 1 March, I’ve been pleased to see a steady flow of applications for the NYSF 2018 Year 12 Program coming in. The closing date of 31 May (midnight AEST) is fast approaching and I encourage interested applicants to apply soon as there are several steps involved which all need to be completed by the deadline. I also strongly encourage applicants to read about and apply for the new Equity Scholarship available this year.

From the CEO

With the end of 2016 fast approaching, I’d like to wish all of our supporters, participants, alumni, volunteers and readers best wishes for the festive season, a fantastic summer holiday and a happy new year!

Of course here at the NYSF the end of the festivities marks the beginning of our busiest time. As we write, there are just 21 sleeps to go until the start of Session A, and 34 until Session C, and we are looking forward to welcoming the next round of 400 participants to join us here at the NYSF. As always, the focus of the NYSF program will be to show our young people the wide range of study, research and career options available to them, and to support them to make informed choices for their futures. In doing so, we also aim to inspire, as we know that inspired students are motivated students, and motivated students go on to achieve incredible outcomes.

inspired students are motivated students

It was very concerning to read in the media recently about Australia’s rankings drop in the latest Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) and the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). Here at the NYSF we are particularly aware of and concerned about these results, and consequently are even more driven to ensure we deliver a quality program to engage young people in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects. In light of these results, we also recognise that the timing couldn’t be more significant for the opportunities we’ve recently been given to expand the programs we offer in 2017 and beyond.

2017 is going to be an exciting year for the NYSF and our participants. We will be piloting a new program targeting younger students in years 7 and 8. This pilot program will run in Adelaide in July 2017 in collaboration with the South Australian Department of Education and Child Development, with development funds from the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Innovation and Science (DIIS). The new program is a residential program that aims to foster and encourage an interest in STEM at a time when many students start turning away from these subjects. Once the pilot is completed, we aim to roll the program out in even more locations around the country.

As a result of funding also secured from the Department of Industry Innovation and Science (DIIS) via the National Science and Innovation Agenda (NISA), the NYSF is nearing the final stages of negotiation with a current partner university to deliver a third NYSF Year 12 January Program to be run in 2018. We have also started discussions for a fourth program to be run at another site in 2019. This will give an additional 200 students the opportunity to participate in 2018, and by 2019 could see as many as 800 young people participating in the NYSF Year 12 Program, across four sessions. In addition, funding has been secured to establish the NYSF Equity Scholarship, which will contribute to reducing the participation fee for young people from communities that may previously have not applied to attend. We will be working closely with our Rotary colleagues to identify young people to access these funds.

We are also negotiating funding and hosting arrangements with the same current partner university to run an additional NYSF National Science Teachers Summer School (NSTSS) program in 2018, as well as maintaining the long-running and popular program that we have delivered at The Australian National University (ANU) for the past 12 years. Our NSTSS Program offers professional development to science teachers, as well as an opportunity to support their engagement levels and passion for teaching science to our young people.

I am sure you will agree, there is a lot in the pipeline here at the NYSF – the result of some hard work by our Board and corporate team in the past two years, and I must acknowledge their role, and in particular, Professor Tanya Monro, our immediate past Board Chair.

Before I sign off, I note that we are seeking some assistance in billeting students who are travelling to and from different locations around the country, via Sydney and Melbourne, to attend the NYSF Year 12 Program in January. This is a great opportunity to get to know some of the bright young people who are attending the program, and be involved, even if you’re not in Canberra.

In Sydney, we’re looking for people to host students overnight on these dates:

  • Sunday 1 January
  • Sunday 15 January

In Melbourne, we’re looking for people to host students overnight on these dates:

  • Sunday 1 January (students travelling to Session A)
  • Saturday 14 January (students travelling home from Session A)
  • Sunday 15 January (students travelling to Session C)
  • Saturday 28 January (students travelling home from Session C)

The NYSF believes that child protection is everyone’s responsibility and those interested in billetting will need to meet the community standards (legislative requirements) in your state of territory. For more information, and to volunteer as a host, you can go to  https://goo.gl/forms/vBwhE6oWICM4QCML2.

We look forward to welcoming in the 2017 year, with all of its new opportunities, along with the next cohort of 400 young people to join our Year 12 January program.

Once again, all the best for the festive season, and thank you for your support.

 

Dr Damien Pearce

Chief Executive Officer

From the CEO

NYSF Expression of Interests for January 2017 has now closed with the number of applications received being consistent with previous years. We are looking forward to working with our Rotary friends through the selection process for a new cohort of NYSF Session participants.

A few weeks ago, our Deputy Chair, Andrew Metcalfe, signed an agreement with the NYSF’s current host university, The Australian National University, here in Canberra. The security that this agreement offers to the organisation gives us more confidence in our future growth plans. I want to thank our ANU colleagues for their ongoing support – without which the NYSF could simply not operate.

Almost in concert with this agreement, we moved offices recently, after ten years at the Physics Building on campus at ANU. We have settled in nicely to our new rooms at the Leonard Huxley building – if you are on campus or visiting, make sure you drop by and say hello.

Our international programs began with the Canada-Wide Science Fair (CWSF), which was held in Montreal, Quebec. NYSF student ambassadors attended as representatives of Australian science, and were also invited to judge the fair’s projects to select the winner of the Australia Award. The prize for the winning entry is a place to participate in the NYSF 2017 January Sessions. In the coming months, students will head off to Goettingen, Boston, Singapore, Heidelberg, Manchester and London.

From the CEO

Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Alan Finkel, launched Australia’s STEM Workforce report in March that provides an up-to-date detailed analysis of the status of Australia’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) trained workforce. The report addresses demographics and the types of occupations and industries graduates and PhDs move in to and the income they may earn.

This report is a great resource for students, and those who support students such as parents, teachers and career advisors, to inform about study and career decision-making within STEM.

A warm welcome to our new Rotary District Chairs (and sincere thanks to those who are continuing) who are now mid-way through the application and selection processes for the NYSF 2017 January Sessions. Expressions of Interest opened on 1 March for students to attend the National Youth Science Forum 2017 and applications have been steadily coming through. I strongly encourage potential applicants to not leave submitting their EoI until the last minute as there are several key steps in the process, which include talking to a local Rotary club about endorsing your application. Expressions of Interest close at midnight AEST on 31 May.

Congratulations to the 37 students from our 2016 and 2015 cohorts who have been selected to attend our 2016 International Programs. Once again the standard of applications was high, making the selection a challenge. Students will be heading off to London, Montreal, Singapore, Boston, Gottingen and Heidelberg. Our International Programs are invaluable to students with an interest in building overseas networks for future study and career opportunities.

Our Next Step programs have commenced with Brisbane and Canberra being a huge success. Thank you to our partner universities and organisations for hosting students. I must also thank student staff members Harley Gray for his help in Brisbane and Lucas Logan for his assistance with the Canberra program. Applications for our Melbourne and Sydney programs will be open soon.

Our participation in the PwC 21C Minds Accelerator Program has resulted in significant opportunities to develop our strategic direction as well as to learn more about some of the organisations also working in the STEM outreach space in Australia and explore potential for collaboration and expansion. In February, Dr Tony Wagner from Harvard University’s Innovation Lab, spent time with the 21CMinds participants and shared valuable insights and critiqued some of the thinking around the developing programs. This activity will continue to provide benefit to the NYSF as the year progresses, and we are extremely proud of our involvement. I also wish to acknowledge the NYSF’s Manager of External Relations, Amanda Caldwell’s contribution to this initiative.

I was privileged to attend the 100-year anniversary celebrations of long-term NYSF funding partner, CSL Ltd this month. This iconic Australian company has a proud history of pharmaceutical and health product development in Australia, including the manufacture of vaccines, insulin and anti-venoms. Six of our alumni are featured in this inspiring video released in conjunction with the celebrations – thanks Tayla, Meg, Kushani, Michael, Lachlan, and Charlie for agreeing to be involved. We are proud of all of our alumni, and thank you for representing them.