From the Chief Executive Officer

As we head into the last few weeks of 2016, here at the NYSF we are ramping up for our January Sessions – NYSF 2017. All of the student participants have been selected for the two programs held at The Australian National University, the first of which begins on 2 January. So there’s no real break for our corporate team and the brilliant student staff leaders, who have been training throughout the year for the task ahead.

Our sincere thanks to our Rotary colleagues across the country for their support and hard work in selecting and supporting our participants in their attendance at the NYSF. The Rotary Orientation sessions have been across the country in September and October, providing an opportunity for this year’s cohort to get together pre-session and for them and their families to learn more about the NYSF and what they can expect when they arrive in Canberra.

So what can they expect? This year, our Programs Team has been planning for six science tours and visits for each participant, in their interest group – over the two sessions, that amounts to about 180 tours provided by our program supporters at the various institutions and businesses in the region, including the ANU, the University of Canberra, the CSIRO, and the Canberra Institute of Technology just to name a few. As well as those tours and visits, the participants will go to lectures given by leading Australian scientists, hear about future study options from our university partners, and the possible career paths they might consider from our business partners. At the Australian Academy of Science, they will learn about its role and resources, as well as the history of the iconic building – The Shine Dome. And at the Science Dinner, held this year at the National Museum of Australia, our guest speakers will captivate with insights on their research activities and their impacts, and their own careers in science. Our popular Alumni Lectures will be open to the wider NYSF community this January, featuring two former NYSF/National Science Summer School (NSSS) participants whose stories and experiences are excellent illustrations of the variety of opportunities available from further study and careers in STEM.

Last week, we launched the NYSF 2017, program following the announcement from the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, that the NYSF will receive $600,000 over four years through the National Science Innovation Agenda (NISA).  The funds are allocated for three specific activities – the expansion to a third NYSF program to be run in January in a second location; the support and expansion of the National Science Teachers Summer School; and the establishment of an Equity Fund that will encourage the participation of young people from more diverse backgrounds in the NYSF January Sessions.

The NYSF Chair, Andrew Metcalfe AO, welcomed the funding from the NISA program, saying, “These additional NYSF initiatives are important platforms in our engagement strategy to increase the understanding of the Australian community about the possible options for young people in STEM study and careers.”

Our involvement in the PwC 21st Century Minds program this year has been rewarding on many levels – the expanded networks, the skills development, and most importantly, the support from our Canberra PwC mentor team to complete our business plan, have been the key benefits. We look forward to the final program workshops in November, and to continuing to engage with the wider STEM outreach network as well as local and national PwC stakeholders into the future. PwC should be congratulated for its vision and leadership in raising the profile of investment in STEM for the future of the Australian economy, and perhaps more importantly, our community.

Finally, last week we also welcomed new funding partner IP Australia for the NSYF 2017 January program. Patricia Kelly, Director General of IP Australia, emphasised the benefits that the new partnership will bring for NYSF students and the wider Australian community.

“IP Australia is pleased to partner with NYSF to further support innovation and commercialisation, both fundamental to the role we play in the Australian community,” she said. (Read more)

I thank all of our funding partners – including major partner, Lockheed Martin Australia – whose support, both financial and strategic, means that the NYSF is able to continue to offer transformative STEM experiences for young Australians to encourage life-long learning.

We are all looking forward to January 2017 and the delivery of another program jam-packed with interesting, engaging and inspiring activities for the 400 young people who are attending, to  show them just what is possible with a career in STEM.

Dr Damien Pearce

Chief Executive Officer

Commonwealth funding boost supports future of National Youth Science Forum

The Chair of the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF), Mr Andrew Metcalfe AO today welcomed the announcement from the Honourable Greg Hunt, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science that funding of $600,000 over a four-year period would be provided to the NYSF.

“This funding support from the Commonwealth Government through the National Innovation Science Agenda (NISA) is very welcome and timely,” said Mr Metcalfe. “Having operated for over 30 years, the NYSF has a proven product with more than 10,000 young people progressing through its programs to date. This funding will allow the organisation to widen its offerings.”

“We had almost 1200 applicants in 2015-16 for the NYSF’s Year 12 January program but only 400 places available. This funding will allow us to look at options for offering the program to even more science students wishing to explore their career options in the STEM fields.”

Specifically, Mr Metcalfe said that the NYSF will consider alternate locations to once again deliver a third session of the January program, and meet the significant demand for places. “This will allow us to build on the solid base we currently have through our relationship with our Canberra host university, The Australian National University, which sees 400 students visit their campus each January.”

Some of the NISA funds will also be used to establish an equity fund to encourage students from diverse backgrounds to participate in the NYSF’s January program, and to support the NYSF’s long-running National Science Teachers’ Summer School (NSTSS).

“These additional initiatives are important platforms in our engagement strategy to increase the understanding of the Australian community about the possible options for young people in STEM study and careers,” said Mr Metcalfe.

 

About the NYSF program:

This January, 400 students entering year 12, who have a passion for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects will arrive in Canberra for the NYSF 2017 January Sessions. Throughout the month, over two separate sessions, participants will live on campus at our host university, The Australian National University (ANU), visit local facilities, take part in science tours and activities, listen to fascinating lectures and talks from leading Australian researchers, take part in debates and speed-date events with our funding partners, and have fun at a range of social activities – all designed to facilitate the development of their first professional networks.

From Albany to Ararat, from Broken Hill to Bundaberg , the participants in the NYSF 2017 will arrive in Canberra keen to learn about possible tertiary study options, and the potential for future careers that arise from those study choices. And they will go home, ready to embark on their final year of secondary schooling, with renewed enthusiasm.

Over its thirty-year history the NYSF has a proven track record in providing our future scientists, engineers, technology practitioners and mathematicians a program that offers insights and opportunities to discuss the variety of study and career options available to them in STEM fields.

Current NYSF funding partners are listed here: http://www.nysf.edu.au/partners

 

Additional background

In 2015-16 the NYSF

  • Attracted approximately 1200 applicants
  • More than 600 were assessed as suitable to attend the program
  • 400 places were available for students to attend
  • 60 panels of volunteers from 21 Rotary Districts across Australia selected students to attend
  • 196 science visits and site tours were conducted in January 2016
  • 23 Next Step visits were conducted in major partner centres during school holidays in 2016
  • 43% of our NYSF 2016 participants came from rural and regional areas of Australia, reflecting our national reach, facilitated by Rotary
  • 59% of our NYSF 2016 participants were female
  • NYSF’s established national networks allows it to reach Australian schools and their students

 

www.nysf.edu.au

Further information:  Amanda Caldwell, NYSF 0410 148 173

From the science forum to science policy

Dr Subho Banerjee attended the NYSF (then known as the National Science Summer School) in Canberra in 1987. Nowadays he is responsible for preparing science policy advice in the Commonwealth Government.

Subho had always had an interest in science through his high school days in Newcastle, including being a national finalist in the BHP Science Prize. So he was very excited to get the chance to attend the NYSF, and it didn’t disappoint.

“Attending the NYSF was an inspirational experience. The program gave us exposure to such a wide range of high-quality science research being done in Canberra, across universities and research agencies. I was blown away by the possibilities.”

“I remember particularly a fantastic talk given to us by a graduate student up at Mt Stromlo Observatory, at the ANU. He really captured how excited he was to be exploring the fundamental questions of the universe – and he made it fun as well.”

“But the best thing was definitely the chance to connect with students from all over Australia who were interested in the same stuff that I was. I made friendships there that I carry forward to today.”

Subho credits his NYSF experience as being crucial in encouraging him to study science at the ANU.   He went on to do a PhD in physics, using lasers to study the structure of the oxygen molecule.

After his PhD, Subho made the decision to move into public policy. He received a Rhodes scholarship to go to the University of Oxford, studying economics and social history, and then environmental policy.

“When I was doing my PhD, I got more and more interested in the interface between science and public policy – so many policy issues are framed by science, but relatively few people with a science background are involved in the policy deliberations.”

Subho joined the Australian Public Service on his return from Oxford. He has since worked across policy issues spanning economic, social and environmental policy, as well as on organisational reform of the public sector itself. In addition to public service roles, he has worked for a not-for-profit Indigenous policy think-tank, and a private sector management consulting firm.

… a grounding in science, such as that provided by the NYSF, is a fantastic foundation. It encourages rigour and clarity in thought

In his current role as a Deputy Secretary in the Department of Industry, Subho is responsible for preparing science policy advice to the Federal government. This spans whole of sector advice on issues such as science funding and infrastructure, as well as policy oversight of Questacon, the National Measurement Institute and the Australian Astronomical Observatory. Subho is also on the board of the international organisation responsible for delivering the Square Kilometre Array – the largest radio telescope in the world.

“I’m really enjoying having a science-based role again. I think a grounding in science, such as that provided by the NYSF, is a fantastic foundation. It encourages rigour and clarity in thought, which makes you better at what you do (whether science-based, or not). But it also encourages enthusiasm about ideas and about the world, which helps you to enjoy doing it.”

Subho Banerjee Siding Springs telescope

Subho Banerjee Siding Spring telescope