Science in ACTion 2016

The National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) will be taking part in Science in ACTion as part of the ACT’s National Science Week activities on Friday and Saturday 12 – 13 August.

National Science Week is Australia’s annual celebration of science and technology and thousands of individuals – from students, to scientists to chefs and musicians get involved, taking part in more than 1000 science events across the nation.

NYSF Alumni entertain event goers at National Science Week 2015

NYSF Alumni entertain event goers at National Science Week 2015

The NYSF will host a stall, with an opportunity for event goers to meet our alumni, participate in an interactive display and play dress-ups at the NYSF Photobooth across the two-day event at the Old Bus Depot in Kingston, ACT. Last year saw over 5,000 visitors across the two days.

Dress-up at the NYSF Photobooth

Dress-up at the NYSF Photobooth

Friday is Schools Day designed for Year five to Year 12 students and showcases STEM careers and pathways on offer in the Canberra region. Bookings are essential for this event. Saturday is open to the general public.

NYSF Chief Executive Officer Damien Pearce said, “The NYSF has participated in the past two Science in ACTion events and we are looking forward to participating again with assistance from NYSF alumni, who are always great ambassadors for our program.”

For more information about National Science Week, visit the website.

To register your school for the schools day event, please contact rebecca.kaye@agriculture.gov.au

Indigenous Science Experience 2016

The National Indigenous Science Education Program (NISEP) is running the Indigenous Science Experience Family Science Fun Day at the Redfern Community Centre in Sydney in August as part of National Science Week.

NISEP is a grassroots, community-based organisation that works with communities in both rural and metropolitan low socio-economic status regions to improve educational outcomes, especially of Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth. Through engagement in fun and interactive science activities it aims to enhance scientific literacy, build confidence and open pathways to higher education.

At this year’s National Science Week event, NISEP partners and the Redfern Community Centre, City of Sydney will host a celebration of Indigenous and western science, demonstrating the value of traditional knowledge and Aboriginal culture in science, and the relevance of science to our everyday lives.

The event provides the opportunity to meet and speak with Indigenous elders and youth as they demonstrate their knowledge to members of the wider Redfern area community, through a range of activities . Working alongside them will be academics and students from Macquarie University, NISEP partners and a number of other science and outreach providers.

The Family Science Fun Day runs from 10:00am to 3:30pm on Sunday 21 August. There will be a range of fun hands-on activities that demonstrate scientific principles in a culturally relevant way.

All activities will be held at the Redfern Community Centre, 29-53 Hugo Street, Redfern.

For more information, visit the National Science Week events page.

NYSF celebrates Science Week at Science in ACTion

The National Youth Science Forum recently took part in Science in ACTion , part of the ACT’s National Science Week activities.

National Science Week is Australia’s annual celebration of science and technology and thousands of individuals – from students, to scientists to chefs and musicians – get involved, taking part in more than 1000 science events across the nation.

On the first day, school groups ranging from years 9 to 12 who study in the Canberra region visited the event, learning about the many organisations involved in science activities in the ACT and surrounding areas.

Saturday was Community Day, which kept our NYSF volunteers busy answering questions about our programs and demonstrating the very popular Van de Graaff generator and Oscilloscope, which were kindly loaned by the ANU Physics Education Centre.

Lauren, Michelle and Sarah demonstrating the Van de Graaff Generator to the kids

Lauren, Michelle and Sarah demonstrating the Van de Graaff Generator to the kids

National Science Week is electrifying

National Science Week is electrifying

National Science Week Canberra - Harry singing into the oscilliscope

National Science Week Canberra – Harry singing into the oscilliscope

NYSF Chief Executive Dr Damien Pearce said, “Participating in this event would not be possible without the support and generosity of NYSF alumni both from on campus at the ANU and living in the area. This year, 15 of our alumni helped us out at the event, which saw an estimated 5000 people visiting over the two days.”

NYSF partners ANU, Lockheed Martin, ANSTO and UNSW were also involved in talks and demonstrations throughout the Canberra event.

By Julie Maynard

NSW alumni engaged in science outreach

In March, Erin Prince and Shivani Shah, NYSF alumni in Sydney, participated in a workshop hosted by Inspiring Australia’s NSW office.  The workshop aimed to inform NSW-based stakeholders in science outreach about the support available through Inspiring Australia for activities that could be held as part of National Science Week (15-23 August).

Erin says that the first part of the meeting discussed the most recent report from the Australian Industry Group, Progressing STEM Skills. This report has identified that Australia’s performance in STEM disciplines is not “keeping pace with the needs of the economy”. However, the need for these skills in our workforce continues to grow. There was much discussion about the challenges of encouraging students to continue science education all through their schooling and on to a tertiary level. Erin says that as an NYSF student, this was quite confronting as science had been one of her passions at school.

The importance of improving communication and collaboration among all of the science education outreach organisations as well as increasing collaboration between research providers and industry was also discussed, so that there are pathways for STEM students into careers.  “Investing in the NYSF is one way companies could do this, as NYSF students are already interested in STEM careers. I remember learning about the possible jobs available in the various companies that are partners in the NYSF during my session.”

As a result of attending the workshop, Erin and Shivani are both keen to look at how the NSW NYSF alumni could get involved in National Science Week, perhaps through organising a meet up of past students.  Anyone interested in helping out can contact them via the NYSF at communications@nysf.edu.au

Check the Inspiring Australia NSW website for information about accessing funding for Science Week activities.

NYSF takes a Brain Break for National Science Week

In August, NYSF held a Brain Break morning tea as part of National Science Week. More than 800 workplaces took part across Australia, joining in and celebrating their love of and need for science – whether in their workplaces or at home.

Tegan McNamara and Ashly Vu Anneke runs the Brain Break Quiz

Geoff Burchfield welcomed the guests to the NYSF Brain Break – mainly alumni from ANU’s campus who braved the Monday morning chill – to test their general science knowledge using the quiz provided by the Brain Break organisers (and ably road-tested and delivered by NYSF staffers James and Anneke).

So, just how many elements begin with the letter C?

Boosting the status of science teaching: what can we do?

DamienPearce

NYSF Interim Director, Damien Pearce comments:

With National Science Week upon us, there has been some discussion in the past few weeks about Australians’ level of science literacy, and the role of our science teachers in contributing to the wider community’s understanding of science.

A recent survey of the Alumni of the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) indicated that, along with parents and family members, science teachers were highly influential in assisting students to choose study pathways and career options within science, engineering and technology. The responses suggested that the influence of science teachers extended past the immediate teaching and learning interaction and included broader considerations within the learning environment, such as school wide approaches to student centred pedagogy, and contemporary educational leadership to empower teachers as we expect so that our students can be inspired within the classroom.

The NYSF, in partnership with the Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA), has been facilitating the National Science Teachers Summer School (NSTSS) with support from the University of Canberra (UC) and the Australian National University (ANU). Designed to enhance the status, confidence and practice of both primary and secondary science teachers, the NSTSS is a two week “holiday program” that aims to provide teachers of science with unique experiences in science and science education to re-invigorate their passion for and engagement with science, which then leads to enhancing the teaching of science to their students. This experience includes engaging with research, researchers and academics across the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields within modern facilities that are often better equipped than most Australian schools. ANU and UC have taken an altruistic view to support this program and their support needs to be acknowledged within this audience.

Chemistry Lab at the ANU, part of the National Science Teachers Summer School January 2013

Chemistry Lab at the ANU, part of the National Science Teachers Summer School January 2013

The ideology of the professions and professionalism has been widely contested and debated. Regardless of any debate, these perspectives place the emphasis on moral probity, service orientation and codes of conduct within professional practice to meet community expectations. Fundamentally, it may be argued that professions effectively strike an accord or bargain with the community in an environment where competence and integrity is exchanged for the trust, relative freedom from supervision and interference by people who do not have specialist or professional knowledge of the subject, protection against unqualified competition, substantial remuneration, and higher social status.

I also believe that the profession of science teaching and teaching more widely is taking a hammering and this definitely needs to stop. We need to be conscious that teaching is a difficult profession and trust, understanding and support from the community is imperative to mitigate negative perceptions to increase the professional status of teaching within the community. Instead of blaming teachers for relative performance of our school children in terms of benchmarked outcomes, we could place greater emphasis on the process of learning by looking closer at individual improvement of the student towards meeting the designated outcomes and not consider these outcomes in terms or absolute success or failure.

In Australia today, everyone is fortunate to have been educated to some degree, and most people have an opinion about education. Our opinions are informed by a combination of own experiences and varying engagement in debates, through the media or otherwise, about educational public policy and political agendas. To support our science teachers, lets progress from the deficit model of public opinion on the performance of teachers, to one where we identify and support them as professionals by acknowledging their specialist knowledge and trusting them to educate our children the best way they can within social-economic constraints.

Further information about National Science Teachers Summer School: nysf.edu.au/other/teachers