NYSF Rotary District Chair, Stephen Lovison talks about student selections

Rotary, NYSF,

“I honestly had no idea the depth and breadth of the program”

From our larger cities to small regional towns in outback Australia, Rotarians have been super busy over the past few months promoting the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) and conducting student selections for the NYSF 2018 Year 12 Program.

We spoke to NYSF Rotary District Chair (DC), Stephen Lovison from Sydney (D9675), about his involvement with Rotary and the NYSF Student Selection process.

Stephen first joined Rotary in 1999 as a Rotaractor and has been president of his Rotary Club, Como-Jannali, twice and served on numerous district boards.

“(I joined Rotary) primarily to give back to my local community and to assist overseas causes championed by Rotary International.  I like the fact that club members are local community leaders, but the beneficiaries of our volunteer work could be anywhere on the planet,” Stephen said.

“When the opportunity for NYSF District Chair became available I decided to try something different. I honestly had no idea the depth and breadth of the program until I got working on it – it’s been challenging and rewarding all the same.”

Rotary Liaison Officer on the NYSF Board, Rob Woolley, estimated that last year Rotarians volunteered more than 20,000 hours to the NYSF in promoting the program and conducting student selections.  Rotary has over 30,000 members, 1,100 clubs in 21 Districts throughout Australia, giving students from all corners of the country the opportunity to attend the NYSF.

“Rotary provides a massive logistic service when it comes to student identification, interview and selection. We rely on our network of business and community leaders to ensure the most suitable candidates are put forward (to district selection),” Stephen said.

This year the NYSF Year 12 Program will be expanding, allowing 600 students to attend in either Canberra or Brisbane.  Stephen added that the program provided a great opportunity for students who were interested in the STEM fields of study.

“Experience and exposure to the top minds and resources in STEM at the level NYSF provides is unrivalled. If you can get access to this as a young person and springboard your career in STEM because of this opportunity, go for it.”

Rotary, NYSF

This year the NYSF is offering 40 Equity Scholarships of $1000 each to students who may need assistance to attend the Year 12 Program.  Stephen believes this will encourage a more diverse range of students to apply.

“There are a number of schools and districts where, for various reasons, a program such as this may be deemed “out of reach”.  In keeping with Rotary and NYSF’s commitment to making the program viable to all students, the Equity Scholarship should hopefully open more doors for these students.”

And Stephen’s advice to students thinking of applying to the NYSF …

“Jump on the NYSF website and do some research, then make contact with your local Rotary Club. We are here to guide you through the process and answer any questions you may have.”

“In our district, we look for any student with a keen interest in the STEM fields, who is community and culturally open minded, and is willing to share and collaborate with their peers and mentors.”

Stephen said feedback from students who have participated in the NYSF Year 12 Program is a testament to its success and value.

“We have not had anything but praise for the NYSF team and the program itself from every returning student! The phrases “changed my life” “wonderful and challenging two weeks” “would recommend to anyone” feature heavily in the post-program reports sent to DCs.”

“In broad terms, alumni have gone on to various university courses and careers in science, healthcare, astronomy, and engineering. Several have joined Rotaract and/or Rotary and we’re glad to see that investment coming full circle.”

For more information about the NYSF Year 12 Program go to https://www.nysf.edu.au

Scientists + Chocolate = Disaster Relief

“ShelterBox is made up of people who believe in shelter as a human right – that shelter from the chaos of disaster and conflict is vital. No ifs. No buts.”

During the NYSF 2017 January Sessions students turned their love of chocolate into a fundraising event. Through the sale of chocolates during session, NYSF students raised $1000, and elected to sponsor a ShelterBox.

What is a ShelterBox you may ask?  ShelterBox is an international disaster relief charity that delivers emergency shelter and vital aid to people affected by disaster worldwide. Working closely with Rotary (90% of ShelterBox deployments involve local Rotary clubs), aid supplied comes in the form of ShelterBoxes and ShelterKits. Sturdy green ShelterBoxes contain family-sized tents specially designed to withstand the elements and provide people with temporary shelter until they can start the process of rebuilding a home. ShelterKits contain essential tools people need to start repairing and rebuilding homes straight away. Kits and boxes also contain the items that help transform shelter into a home – like cooking sets, solar lights and activity sets for children.

Shelterbox, Rotary, NYSF, National Youth Science Forum

Chief Executive Officer of Shelterbox Australia, Mike Greenslade, said the Shelterbox would provide much needed relief to a family suffering after a disaster.

“ShelterBox is made up of people who believe in shelter as a human right – that shelter from the chaos of disaster and conflict is vital. No ifs. No buts. This drives us to transform the support of Rotary, our donors, fundraisers and volunteers into the hope and power of families all over the world – the power to rebuild homes, lives and communities.”

Most recently ShelterBox has provided aid to people affected by the conflict in Syria, flooding in Peru and the Columbian landslides.

Mr Greenslade highlighted the important role science plays in providing a high quality ShelterBox that meets the needs of those affected.

“I’m thrilled that January’s National Youth Science Forum students chose to support disaster relief by sponsoring a ShelterBox. There is plenty of science contained in our green boxes, from the water filters capable of removing microbiological hazards and heavy metals to the compact, inflatable solar lights. Then there’s our relief tent, capable of withstanding 90 kilometre per hour winds, tropical rains, UV protected and vector proof.

The box sponsored by the NYSF will make a world of difference to a family who has lost everything to disaster and help them get back on their feet. My heartfelt thanks to all those that contributed.”

Where will our ShelterBox be going?  We will have to wait and see, each box bears its own unique number so we can track it online all the way to its recipient country following deployment.  We’ll keep you posted about its final destination!

To find out more about ShelterBox or to donate go to http://www.shelterboxaustralia.com.au

Newcastle Tea Ceremony

Students from the Newcastle area who recently returned from the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) 2017 Year 12 Program in January, were treated to an afternoon tea hosted by The Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Cr Nuatali Nelmes.

The Lord Mayor congratulated local students on their achievements and selection to the NYSF program.


“It was my pleasure to host this special afternoon tea recognising the National Youth Science Forum and the number of local alumni who demonstrated the up and coming science, engineering and technology talent in Newcastle’s high schools.”

Also in attendance were Rotarians from local clubs, representatives from The University of Newcastle, local school principals and NYSF alumni, including NYSF 2013 alumnus, Phill Johnson, who was recently awarded Newcastle’s Young Citizen of the Year, and Newcastle City Councillor, Declan Clausen, who attended the NYSF in 2010. Cr Clausen knows first-hand the benefits students can gain from the NYSF program.

“As an alumnus of the NYSF, I know the value it plays in opening doors for young people across Australia in engineering, science and innovation.”

Callaghan College (Jesmond Campus) Student, Meheret Dagemawe, said the afternoon tea with the Lord Mayor was a memorable experience.

“Having the opportunity of meeting the Lord Mayor has allowed me to have an in-depth conversation of my future aspirations, in which Lord Mayor, Nuatali Nelmes, took great interest and provided invaluable insight about my choices.”

“The NYSF, although science related, has given me life skills that I could apply regardless of what path I choose to follow. The connections created through laughter and healthy debates with the brilliant minds of like-minded students is what I cherish most. I was also able to take away the most valuable lesson of networking with awe-inspiring scientists and speakers. Going to NYSF has allowed me to widen my career and further study options, it’s enabled me to be able to see different perspectives from a wide variety of people,” she said.

Cr Clausen noted that an additional 200 places will be available for next year’s program and encouraged local students to apply.

“As a region we have been very fortunate to have been so well represented at NYSF in the past, and I strongly encourage young Novocastrians in Year 11 to apply to attend NYSF in 2018,” Cr Clausen said.

Applications for 2018 open on 1 March. Full details at: www.nysf.edu.au

Welcome to the Family: NYSF 2017 Session C Volunteers

At each session of the NYSF, we welcome a series of amazing volunteers who are there for participant and student staff wellbeing and support. For 2017 Session C we welcome our Rotary Aunts and Uncles, Sandra Quintemeyer, Stephen Porter, Sue Neale, Brendan Stevenson and Vera Liondas. Furthermore, their sharing of their experiences about involvement in the program provides an opportunity for Rotary to learn more about the NYSF, with their support critical to the program’s success.

L to R: Rotary Volunteers: Sue, Vera, Stephen, Brendan and Sandra.

Sandra comes from Townsville, Queensland and has previously been on the Rotary selection panel for the NYSF in her area. She is now retired but has worked in teaching vocational training and hospitality. For Sandra, this is a great opportunity to report back to her club on the work that the NYSF does and encourage continued involvement and support for students wanting to attend the NYSF in the future.

Stephen is from Hobart in Tasmania and is a long-time member of Rotary, with his club supporting the NYSF for a number of years. He is looking forward to learning more about the program and is particularly interested in seeing science in action through the lab visits and lectures.

Sue is from Echuca in Victoria and works as a Chemistry and Mathematics high school teacher. Her keen interest in science and a desire to further promote the program in her own school prompted her to volunteer. She is looking forward to learning more about the NYSF and what students who have attended in the past have experienced.

Brendan has just finished his Bachelor of Science at Monash University in Melbourne, majoring in Biochemistry and Pharmacology. Next year he will be at The University of Melbourne doing his Honours in Biochemistry and then plans to go onto further postgraduate study. He has been active in Rotary’s community work since he was 16. He is most looking forward to the science visits, experiencing ANU and says he is excited to see the change in the students at the end of the program as they come out of their shells.

Vera is from the Rotary club of Holtoid in Sydney and has been involved with the NYSF over the last 3 years, being on the interview panel for her district. She is now retired but has worked as a science teacher at TAFE and is looking forward to seeing “if science has changed in half a century!”

Thank you to Sandra, Stephen, Sue, Vera and Brendan for your assistance over the next 2 weeks and the role that Rotary plays in the ongoing support of the NYSF.

Now let’s begin NYSF 2017 Session C and let the science begin!

 

Written by NYSF 2017 Session C Communications Interns and NYSF 2014 alumni, Veronica O’Mara and Megan Stegeman.

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

Launch for NYSF 2017

The National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) launched its 2017 January programs earlier this month at the Australian National University (ANU).

Andrew Metcalfe, AO, Chair of the NYSF Board said the January program would be better than ever due to the ongoing support of our funding partners and organisations that facilitated the program.  Mr Metcalfe made special mention of the recent funding announcement by Minister Greg Hunt of funding for the NYSF’s activities through the National Innovation Science Agenda (NISA).

NYSF Chair Andrew Metcalfe speaking at the NYSF 2017 launch

NYSF Chair Andrew Metcalfe speaking at the NYSF 2017 launch

Mr Metcalfe also welcomed our newest Funding Partner, IP Australia, who’s Deputy Director General, Ms Deb Anton, also addressed the group underlining the value of supporting the NYSF as a program that attracts Australia’s next generation of leading innovators. “This aligns with IP Australia’s position,“ she said, “as we are at the forefront of innovation in Australia.”

“Supporting new talent will result in a strong, positive impact in securing Australia’s future as a global leader in science and technology.”

Attendees at the launch included representatives from NYSF funding partners, ANU academics and researchers who assist with the delivery of the NYSF program in the form of the lab visits and guest lectures; other facility lab visit and site tour providers; alumni of the NYSF Program, many of whom are students or graduates of the ANU; NYSF Board and Council members; and the NYSF corporate team.

nysf-2017-launch_0052

Dr. Chris Hatherly, Anne MacKay, Daniel Lawson, Emily Rose Rees, Ellen Lynch

nysf-2017-launch_0053

Prof. Jenny Graves, Deb Anton, Dr. Alison Shield

nysf-2017-launch_0051

Alumni Sam Backwell, Laura Wey,                Mitchell de Vries

nysf-2017-launch_0042

Andrew Metcalfe AO and Deb Anton

nysf-2017-launch_0040

Andrew Metcalfe AO and Deb Anton

nysf-2017-launch_0012

Mitchell de Vries, Natalie Williams,                Merryn Fraser

nysf-2017-launch_0005

Rowley Tompsett, Madeline Cooper,             Melanie Tacey

nysf-2017-launch_0007

Ken Maxwell, Dr. Damien Pearce, Jo Hart

nysf-2017-launch_0061

Tony Trumble, Prof. Jenny Graves, Deb Anton, Adrian Hearne, Brody Hannan

All images:  Emma Robertson

Alumni giving back to the NYSF at selection time

Milonee Shah, from Sydney has been helping at the NYSF District Selections recently.

“Over the past three years, I have organised and been a guest panelist on the selection committee for the Rotary Sydney District of the NYSF and it has been a very rewarding experience.

“The involvement of alumni on NYSF selection panels has been an increasing trend over the past few years in some areas. Alumni have a personal and relevant understanding of how a student might benefit most from attending the NYSF, and how they might give back to the NYSF community. They also have special insights that can be very valuable for the Rotarians in their consideration of applicants, irrespective of how long ago the alumni attended the program. In my experience, the Rotarians are incredibly grateful for that support, and these connections have led me on to other exciting opportunities enabled through Rotary.

“In 2014, our selection day saw 70 students interviewed, and we were fortunate to have about 15-20 NYSF alumni assist as volunteers through the day.

“As well as being helpful for the selection committee, the alumni also benefit from the engagement … it lets alumni meet others who attended in different sessions and different years, allowing for reconnection with old friends, and new connections to be made. But most importantly, it allows alumni to give back to the organisation and program that has done so much for them.

I encourage all alumni to get involved in their local area

“I am very excited to be a part of this growing trend of returning alumni panelists and I encourage all alumni to get involved in their local area. It’s such a rewarding experience and I guarantee you’ll enjoy it thoroughly!”

If you are an alumni and would like to be involved in your local selections for the NYSF, please email nysf@nysf.edu.au to get the details of your local District Chair.

From the Director

I can report this month that all of the NYSF 2015 Orientation sessions have been completed – they kick off in September and run for a six week period, and are a really valuable way for the NYSF corporate team to present its credentials, if you like, to our incoming student cohort, their families, teachers and Rotary supporters. At Orientation, we provide important information about the NYSF, how we operate and what the students can expect when they come on session. They give a real insight into the NSYF and what it is about.

This year, I was supported in the delivery of Orientations by Sandra Meek and Geoff Burchfield. Between us we talked to 25 groups – large and small – across the country, ably assisted by our student staff members who have been fitting in their NYSF training course work between year 12 commitments. I thank them all, as well as our Rotary District Chairs and their assistants, for their organisation and coordination in this very big and important task in the NYSF calendar. Once Orientations are completed, we are set for the run up to the January program.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

DSC_0890

Orientation Perth Sept 2014  1

 PDG Mark Lean, Hamza Ashraf, Holly Coyte, Muhammad Khan, NYSF District Chair Marty Eiteneuer, NYSF Program Coordinator Geoff Burchfield at Mackay Orientation Oct 2014

DSC_0825

 DSC00664

DSC_0924

A number of parents let us know during Orientations that they had attended the NYSF themselves, and it is very rewarding to learn that they valued the program so much that they were supporting their own child’s attendance. Similarly, we have science teachers of students advising that they attended the NYSF, or have attended the National Science Teachers’ Summer School, our professional development program conducted each year in collaboration with the Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA). I believe that all of these referrals support the claim that our students are our best ambassadors … even twenty or thirty years on.

Another recent development is the establishment of NYSF societies and associations at various universities across the country (see story below), but particularly at those who are funding partners of the NYSF. Established by the university students, the associations aim to continue the relationships among program participants as they move through the tertiary system, and hopefully will also provide a mechanism for ongoing contact once they enter the workforce. We welcome all opportunities to connect with our alumni, formal or informal. Once in the workforce, alumni may consider approaching their employers to become involved in the NYSF, particularly as a funding partner, as we are always looking for new partners to ensure the sustainability of the program.

The 2015 session will provide challenges due to increases in numbers here in Canberra but I am confident that with the support of our partners, staff, Rotary volunteers and the team at the Australian National University (ANU), we will once again deliver a program of fascinating speakers, exciting debates, interesting insights and lots and lots of interaction among the 360 young people who are heading towards a career in science, technology, engineering and maths. Bring it on!

The view from the road — Geoff Burchfield

If it’s Monday this must be Townsville. That’s what it sometimes feels like when you’re on the NYSF Orientations circuit. Actually it was Mackay and this was the Queensland leg of the 2013 tour. As people arrived for the 6 o’clock event at Mackay’s Ocean International Hotel I was struck again by how far many of the attendees had travelled and how much work goes into organising and coordinating these meetings.

Geoff Burchfield makes a point during Orientations 2013 comp

Geoff Burchfield makes a point during Orientations 2013

This year four of us from the office – Damien Pearce, Sandra Meek, Tom Grace, and myself – shared the privilege of attending Orientation meetings around the country — all 26 of them. There’s at least one meeting in each of the Rotary districts but some districts are so large that there can be as many as three meetings. District 9550 for instance takes in much of the Northern Territory as well as the top end of Queensland necessitating separate gatherings in Darwin, Cairns and Townsville.

Irrespective of where the meetings are staged, each is quite special. At diverse venues ranging from a heritage lawn bowls club in Rockhampton to CSL’s magnificent lecture theatre in Melbourne people come to hear more about the NYSF’s upcoming January sessions. And if the gathering is quiet to begin with they’re invariably lively by the end. That has much to do with the fact that most of the attendees — a mix of parents, Rotarians, teachers, students, and community representatives — have never met before. They quickly discover they have much in common even if their home-towns are miles apart. The students in particular connect almost instantly. You’d think they’d grown up together.  

The students in particular connect almost instantly.

The formal proceedings vary considerably too. Sometimes there are interesting guest speakers and often a Rotary District Governor will have found time in their busy schedule to address the students.

Professor Nasser Khalili, Associate Dean (Research), Head of Geotechnical Engineering from University of New South Wales at the Sydney District 9675 Orientations 2013

Professor Nasser Khalili, Associate Dean (Research), Head of Geotechnical Engineering from University of New South Wales at the Sydney District 9675 Orientations 2013

Orientations 2013 in South Australia for District 9520

Geoff Burchfield and Ben Galea at Orientation Session in Brisbane October  2013

Geoff Burchfield and Ben Galea at Orientation Session in Brisbane October 2013

Parents of past NYSF students may speak about their own experience of having a son or daughter travel to Canberra or Perth and reassure the ‘new’ parents that they really have nothing to worry about. Finally members of the student staff help to deliver a presentation about the NYSF and share their own experiences. Mention of the International Program always generates interest and you can tell by the knowing looks between students and parents that negotiations have already begun.

What may not be immediately obvious, however, is that the flow of information is two-way. We learn a great deal about local opportunities for future employment, study options and community support. Representatives of Rotary clubs speak proudly of past students whose careers they’ve followed. Teachers remind us of the difficult paths some students have taken, perhaps having to do independent study because the school is only small. Hearing all this on a student’s home turf adds real perspective to what we’re trying to achieve at the NYSF. There’s a sense of making a difference not just to the lives of these young scientists but to entire communities.

Often the meeting ends with a meal or afternoon tea, sometimes generously provided by an NYSF partner organisation or even assembled by members of a local Rotary Club. (The caramel slices in Armidale this year were particularly good.)

As people head for home it’s obvious the networking has already begun. And not just among the students.

I know that it can be a lot of work for the NYSF Rotary District Chairs around the country who organise these Orientation meetings and I want to acknowledge our gratitude to each one of them and their teams.

ANU features NYSF alumna in video on studying science

NYSF student Claire Taylor and her family from Guyra in New South Wales were recently featured in this video about studying science at the Australian National University, “Making a move”.

Sam Hutton, former president of the Rotary Club of Guyra, which supported Claire’s application to attend the NYSF says, “Claire’s big shift was going to the National Youth Science Forum.”