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 Director

Geoff BurchfieldMid-winter here in Canberra is generally a quiet time for the National Youth Science Forum. But this year the place is buzzing with significant developments, some perhaps surprising.

First up, I have decided to step down from my role as Director of the NYSF, effective from the end of August. It’s a been a wonderful nine years for me but it’s time to move on and pursue other interests. My succession program is already in place and I feel I’m leaving the NYSF in very good hands.

The interim director, Damien Pearce, is already on board. He is a Fulbright scholar with a strong background in education. And he is no stranger to the organisation. In his former role as NYSF Assistant Director, he will be known to many who have attended the Canberra sessions over the past two years. Additionally, Damien has been closely involved in the student-staff training program.

the place is buzzing with significant developments

Recently he has been an architect of major office re-structures that have not only streamlined portfolios and brought operations under one roof but made possible some new staff changes. In particular we are delighted to welcome Amanda Caldwell as our Manager, Communications & Partnerships. Also there are now three part-time positions in our office, specifically for former NYSF students. This is an important way of maintaining connections with the student body while also providing training opportunities.

As I write, the Next Step Program is in full swing around the country and the International Program is underway too. Currently we have students at programs in Boston and Pretoria with others soon to leave for Heidelberg and London.

The re-vamped Outback Leadership Treks are also about to get underway. This year our young student staff leaders are trekking in Southern Queensland under the guidance of Adventure Out.

While I am leaving to explore new personal opportunities, I am keeping options open for the possibility of continuing my involvement in some way, so strong is my belief in NYSF, its future and the organisation’s ability to achieve change in the lives of the young people we support.

Geoff Burchfield

Life after NYSF: a student’s view

NYSF Staffie and Student, Patrick Haylock, is moving on from his role with NYSF to a new and exciting job. Here he reflects on his time with NYSF:

To say that the experience was transformative understates the impact the program had on me.

So I am reaching the end of my student career. Over four years of work will shortly produce one of the most important pieces of paper I will ever receive. This piece of paper, which I won’t possess for a few weeks yet, has already landed me an exciting job and the promise of a career. Whenever I go through periods of big changes, I tend to grow quite reflective. This time is no different, and I have been focusing on the events that have led to my current circumstances. No matter where I begin though, I always end up passing through my time with the National Youth Science Forum. To say that the experience was transformative seems to understate the impact the program had on me.

Patrick Haylock

Patrick Haylock

I attended the National Youth Science Forum in 2007 as a student and I returned twice as a “staffie” – NYSF participants who are invited back to work on the program. I came from rural Victoria and the opportunities to extend myself into areas of science were thin on the ground. The Forum presented a chance to break from this restriction and find out where my passion for science could take me. For the first time I could meet working scientists. But when I finally talked to them face-to-face it was not their work or the letters after their name that I found admirable. It was their passion, their kindness and their patience which affected me profoundly. They became role models for me as a young scientist. I used the opportunity to find out as much about the researchers as I could, with the intention of emulating their journeys. I can even trace my current degree choice to one scientist in particular, who conducted research in microbiology but had a PhD in geology. He talked me through his strange educational background and showed me that I could fearlessly follow my interests. I have followed his example and will be graduating with disparate majors in chemistry and philosophy.

This is sort of what the NYSF became for me, both as a student and a staffie. Whilst I learned a lot about potential careers, I learned even more about the sort of person I wanted to be. I was inspired to develop the skills I found exemplified by the students, staffies and scientist I met. These skills have given me a head start on my career. Because of the NYSF, I am graduating with confidence in my public speaking skills and my ability to communicate scientific ideas effectively and passionately. Most of all, I am graduating with an openness to life-long learning and new opportunities. The NYSF deeply affected how I see the world, and I believe that many of the successes I have had since the program in 2007 owe much to the time I spent there.

I will be beginning work as a chemistry patent examiner at the end of July. I will get to combine my love of science and philosophy into the one career, thanks in no small part to the sage advice of a scientist I met at the NYSF. My life could have taken many directions and I may have been in a dozen different circumstances right now. But of all those other circumstances, without the NYSF few would leave so many possibilities for me to explore.

Patrick and the candles

Picture this … calling all NYSF Alumni and Staffies

Calling Staffies from NYSF in 1999 … are you in this picture?


What about this one of staff from 1996, with Rotary colleagues?


This just a small selection of photos that we are collating to coincide with our thirtieth anniversary this year.

Have you any pics from your time with NYSF that you would like to share?

We’re collecting photos for an exhibition we will mount at the 2014 sessions. And we’d like your snaps too. So if you’ve got them sitting in a box in the back of a cupboard, take a quiet moment to dig them out and have a look. We’d love to see them and add them to our collection. Further information contact Amanda Caldwell.