NYSF International Programs Offer Exciting Opportunities – 2016 Wrap Up

Each year the NYSF offers a range of opportunities to participants from the January Sessions to attend similar science programs in locations around the world. With 2016 drawing to a close, we can now look back on the year’s events and feature some of the reflections of the students who were lucky enough to attend.


Chris Hadfield (Astronaut) speaking at CWSF, 2016

Canada-Wide Science Fair (CWSF)

The international program to kick-off the year is the Canada-Wide Science Fair (CWSF) held over six days in May. Each year, up to six Australian students are invited to act as ambassadors for Australian Science at the event. The key feature of CWSF is the inclusion of the national science competition final where more than 500 Canadian participants present their science projects for the year.

“Attending the Canada Wide Science Fair, held this year in Montreal, was an utterly unique experience for me, and one that has given me such a broad range of experiences that I never would have otherwise.” Harrison Rook, 2016

“The Canada Wide Science Fair was a showcase for the next generation of entrepreneurs, academics, scientists and technologists; minds that will tackle and solve some of the most challenging issues facing our planet. For the 500 finalists, participation at CWSF is a great achievement and a life-changing event.” Isabella Aitkenhead, 2016


I knew my teachers would be supportive and what I would get from this program would be well worth the stress of doing assignments in the holidays

XLAB International Science Camp – Göttingen, Germany

Targeted at students aged 17-22, the XLAB International Science Camp (XLAB) held by the University of Göttingen each year in the European summer, offers experimental courses in biology, chemistry, physics and more. Students have the opportunity to conduct hands-on experiments under the supervision of scientists from the University and affiliated research organisations. The weekends and evenings offer a range of social and cultural programs as well.


“This trip to Göttingen was an absolute eye opener into actually being on the frontier of science, an experience I was extremely fortunate to encounter at the perfect time in my life, allowing me to peer into the reality of my intentions for the future while I still have time to consolidate them.” Tom Houlden, 2016


The International Science Summer School Heidelberg (ISSSH), Germany

If it’s Germany you want to go to then there is another excellent option each year. The International Science Summer School Heidelberg (ISSSH) offers a four week program where students can gain practical insight and experience in the natural sciences under the supervision of renowned scientists. Each there are places for three Australians to attend with peers from all over the world in the beautiful city of Heidelberg.

“Heidelberg invited us into their city to allow us to experience both their culture and share with us their love for science.” Erica Coxon, 2016

Students at ISSSH, 2016

Students at ISSSH, 2016


National University of Singapore Science Summer Camp (NUS SSC)

In July each year, the National University of Singapore (NUS) runs an annual science summer camp program that offers a curiosity stirring series of lectures, workshops and lab sessions led by experienced university professors. The program includes visits to NUS’s state of the art scientific research centres. The goal of the NUS SSC is to help students discover their passion and potential in the broad world of STEM.


Students enjoying NUSSSC, 2016


Research Science Insitute (RSI) 

The longest program on offer, running for six weeks in the U.S. summer, is the RSI program. This program is operated by the Center of Excellence in Education and held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston. Each year Australia, through the NYSF, sends two participants to attend, and competition for this highly regarded program is fierce. For the first week students have the opportunity to take part in intensive STEM classes. For the remaining five weeks, participants have the opportunity to conduct their own research in a field of their choice with leading scientists, engineers and professors as their mentors and supervisors.

“RSI has redefined my future as a research scientist, and I am certain this program has and will allow me to become greater scientist than I would have before. ” Matt Craigie, 2016



Courtney Graymore at LIYSF, 2016

London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF)

With more than a 50 year history, the London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF) is one of the largest programs on offer. Running for two weeks, this residential event is hosted by the Imperial College in South Kensington. Participants have the opportunity to attend lectures, research labs industrial sites and other scientific institutions that are led by some of the most recognised scientists in the UK. An active social calendar is also part of the fun.

“Overall, my attendance at the LIYSF and CERN program will be an experience I will never forget. In addition to giving us the opportunity to hear from incredible scientists from all over the world and visit world-class facilities in London, my enthusiasm for science was renewed by the excitement and wonderful people.”  Courtney Graymore, 2016

EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) 

The EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) is a biannual event run in a different location in Europe every two years. ESOF is a huge event attracting an incredible 6,000 participants including: researchers, business leaders, government officials, media, students and scientists Europe-wide. At each event there are opportunities for six NYSF participants to attend. In 2016, Manchester, UK was the chosen city. NYSFers will now have to wait until 2018 when the next event is held in Toulouse, France.

“The EuroScience Open Forum completely changed my outlook on science, and for that matter the world! Being the largest general science meeting in Europe, the forum attracted some of the best and most highly regarded researchers and students from across Europe.” Wesley Flavell, 2016

ESOF may have only lasted for ten days, but the memories will surely last me for a lifetime.” Kate Morcom, 2016

Applications for the International Programs open in early February, following the January Sessions each year. We encourage all current NYSF participants to look at the NYSF database for reports completed by previous international participants to inform their own considerations to apply. While it is often a big financial and time commitment during year 12, the opportunities and benefits are momentous.

“Many others from NYSF said that they didn’t want to apply for international programs because they would miss a lot of school. Personally I wasn’t fazed by this because I knew my teachers would be supportive and what I would get from this program would be well worth the stress of doing assignments in the holidays.” Erica Coxon, 2016

Travel costs for students from New South Wales were supported by the NSW Department of Industry, Office of Science and Research.  NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer


NYSF International Program pays off – XLAB in Goettingen, Germany

NYSF 2016 alumnus Tom Houlden participated in the XLAB International Science Camp hosted at The University of Goettingen, Germany in June this year, and recalls his experience.

The Göttingen science camp was an absolute eye opener for me

“Nineteen students attended XLAB International Science Camp in Göettingen, Germany, coming from eight different countries across four different continents, speaking roughly twelve different languages. It would be a feat to distinguish what was more impressive – the cultural cocktail achieved in this experience or the huge variety of scientific activity, from experiments to lectures, or tours to presentations by esteemed scientists.

Tom Houlden

Tom Houlden, with the participants in XLAB Summer Science Camp, Goettingen, June 2016

The Göttingen science camp was an absolute eye opener for me – actually being on the frontier of science; I was extremely fortunate to have this experience at the perfect time in my life. It gave me a chance to assess the reality of my intentions for the future, while I still have time to consolidate them. This camp provided a glimpse into what research is actually like, the failures, the tedium, the obsession with detail, the endless data collection, the successes and most importantly, the dedication to ‘finding things out’.

The three-week camp comprised of three individual one-week courses designed to target sub-fields in biology, chemistry and physics. I spent my three weeks primarily in the biology department, taking courses in neurophysiology, molecular biology and immunology. A goal of these courses was to expose us to current research methods and technologies in these fields. Because of this objective I now have a relatively good knowledge of exactly what methods I can use to analyse blood samples for specific antigens, genetically alter bacteria, stimulate neuron signals and analyse the visual system of insects amongst other very fundamental scientific practices.

The highlight of the experience might have been, narrowly, my time working with bacteria in the molecular biology course. Here I inserted DNA containing genes removed from florescent jellyfish into bacteria which I cultivated and watched as they began to become fluorescent under ultraviolet light.

Tim Houlden1

We then analysed the process that bacteria, like humans, undergo to produce proteins (in this case, ones that glow in the dark) from genes. Here I conducted different experiments on the bacteria, isolating the DNA, other genetic material and eventually managing to separate the proteins themselves. This process not only confirmed the theory which I studied extensively back at school with a real life demonstration of this process which had fascinated me so much, but it also managed to consolidate my passion for this kind of scientific enquiry.

As well as the strong scientific element of the course, we also had the opportunity to discover nearby parts of Germany. Visiting historically significant towns such as Goslar, culturally rich towns such as Kassel and sobering sites such as the Buchenwald concentration camp, we managed to get a feel for the country outside of the scientific hub where we were living. It is these visits and immersion into the German culture (which apparently flourishes at the time of the European Cup which fortunately coincided with our trip), which has forced me to consider looking at Georg-August-Universität (the university that Göttingen is famous for) as a destination for further studies in the years to come.

I have come away with a renewed sense of direction

XLAB was a place where my passion for science was able to collide with the enthusiasms of my international peers. Ultimately I have come away with a renewed sense of direction in terms my aspirations for a scientific career as well as a newfound passion for connecting with others from across the globe, particularly in regards to my concreted understanding of science and human exploration in general as an international endeavour.”