From the CEO – the year in review

As selections for the NYSF 2018 Year 12 Program are finalised in communities all over the country, I can report that the NYSF is tracking well as we head into our 35th year of program delivery, making a difference in the lives of so many young Australians who love science.

In my sixth year as the CEO of the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF), I am very proud to to report that the NYSF’s suite of outreach programs was again delivered successfully in the past financial year. The feedback we received from last year indicated a broad sense of satisfaction with the programs we are offering to our wide range of participants – year 12 students, teachers, alumni, and just outside of the 2016-2017 reporting period – year seven and eight students. As always, we will continue to use this feedback to support our continuous improvement paradigm for upcoming programs. 

Reflecting the strategic direction of the organisation over the past financial year we have welcomed five new staff members to the corporate team – effectively doubling our resources. These new members have complemented the expertise of our existing team and boosted our capability within communications, marketing, program development, and delivery. With these new colleagues, we now have a team of 10 FTE.

The receipt of significant funding from the Australian Government through the National Science and Innovation Agenda has assisted in the continued development of NYSF’s Year 12 Programs and the National Science Teachers Summer School, which will also be delivered in both Canberra at The Australian National University (ANU) and Brisbane at The University of Queensland (UQ) in January 2018. The Year 12 Program will be offered to up to 600 participants, with 70 student staff leaders across the three sessions supporting their experience, and the expanded science teacher program now allows for 80 places in both locations.

We have also introduced an Equity Scholarship to assist students from low socio-economic backgrounds and other equity groups to attend the program, complementing the ongoing financial support available from many Rotary clubs. We expect this initiative to be fully subscribed for the NYSF 2018 Year 12 Program.

As noted above, we recently successfully delivered our first STEM Explorer Program, in conjunction with the South Australian Department of Education and Early Childhood. This program is targeted at year seven and eight students to increase their curiosity and STEM literacy and was extremely well received by the younger students who participated in the inaugural program.

Our fundraising and corporate support achievements remain solid and have exceeded expectation and budget. My sense is that this is due to our mature communications strategy, our paradigm of continuous improvement, and the delivery of quality and relevant programs. An additional factor is the contemporary governance approaches championed by our experienced Board. 

I take this opportunity to thank our Board members for their ongoing support, professionalism and strategic vision as we move the organisation through this significant growth phase.

I am pleased to advise that Andrew Metcalfe, AO, Rowley Tompsett, Loren Atkins, Dr Renee Kidson and Professor Sally-Ann Poulsen – the latter three are alumnae of the NYSF (as the National Science Summer School) – have all been re-appointed to the Board. We are also delighted and very excited that Dr Geoff Garrett, AO and the Hon Kate Lundy have been elected to the NYSF Board and will both be Deputy Chairs. Andrew Metcalfe, AO was re-elected as Chair for another two years.

Dr Garrett has a distinguished leadership and professional career in science both in Australia and internationally and most recently was the Chief Scientist in Queensland; prior to that Dr Garrett was the CEO of CSIRO.

Ms Lundy is the ACT Local Industry Advocate and formerly Senator for the ACT (1996-2016) in the Australian Parliament; she served in Ministerial appointments during this time, and is now actively engaged in promoting the opportunities for national and international business in the ACT. As a Senator, Ms Lundy was an enthusiastic supporter of the NYSF, often welcoming our participants to Canberra at Parliament House Opening Ceremonies.

The breadth of experience that these appointments adds to our board cannot be overstated, and I look forward to working with all of our board members to continue the organisation’s strategic development in the coming years, under the steady guidance of our Chair, Andrew Metcalfe, AO.

The broad aims of the NYSF are to reach more young people to encourage and build their engagement in STEM, to support and acknowledge science teachers in their own growth and development, to re-engage our alumni who are our best ambassadors – their achievements both personally and professionally inspire me every day.

I also acknowledge all of the Rotarians across the country for their support of the NYSF Year 12 programs, and specifically the significant contributions from our NYSF Rotary District Chairs.

I also acknowledge all of the Rotarians across the country for their support of the NYSF Year 12 programs, and specifically the significant contributions from our NYSF Rotary District Chairs.

And finally, I thank our corporate team members who work at the coalface of STEM outreach activities, finding and fashioning all of the pieces of the jigsaw, and working together to deliver quality programs for our participants.

I look forward to January 2018 and beyond as the NYSF continues to grow and meet the needs of the Australian community.

Dr Damien Pearce

Chief Executive Officer

August 2017

STEM Explorer Wrap Up

The first National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) STEM Explorer Program ran from 17-21 July in Adelaide, South Australia. The Program was the first residential STEM camp in Australia for this age group of year 7-8 students and was delivered as a partnership by the NYSF and South Australian Department of Education and Child Development (DECD).  The aim of the Program – to enthuse the participants about the study of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Want to read more about the NYSF STEM Explorer Program?

If you’d like to know the institutions and organisations involved and the views of some of the key STEM advocates involved in the program you can read about that in “NYSF STEM Explorer roams across the Adelaide landscape”.

You can read about the activities undertaken by the participants in more detail in “Highlights of NYSF STEM Explorer 2017”.

Perhaps you’d like to know more about the NYSF’s “By Youth for Youth” program model and the NYSF alumni who volunteered their time and passion to support the young participants, while also gaining a valuable leadership development opportunity. You can read about that in “Meet the Youth Advisors of NYSF STEM Explorer”.

Meet the Youth Advisors of NYSF STEM Explorer

“Australia needs more students passionate about STEM and wanting to work in these fields. I want to play a role in making students aware of the pathways they can take in STEM but also show them how interesting it can be.” Damian

The National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) has used a by youth for youth model in our NYSF Year 12 Program for the majority of its 35 years in operation. This is just one aspect that makes the program so unique! This same tried and tested model has also been implemented for the new STEM Explorer program running in Adelaide this week. What we have found through this model is that the young participants on program find the youth leaders highly relatable and inspiring as they are close enough in age and stage that they can more easily picture themselves in their shoes. Being a Youth Advisor also offers a great opportunity to develop leadership skills.  The Youth Advisors volunteering at STEM Explorer are all NYSF alumni, and the majority are currently pursuing their own future in STEM through university or graduate jobs.

There were ten fantastic Youth Advisor volunteers lending a hand at STEM Explorer. I spoke to some of them on site and here are some of the pearls they had to pass on to our young STEM enthusiasts.

Teejay is currently studying to become a maths and science teacher at the University of Newcastle and loves sharing her passion for science and learning.

Reflecting on her own time as a participant with NYSF, Teejay said “The NYSF introduced me to creative scientific thinking and made science interesting and relatable. I loved that the NYSF taught us science through experiences. Everyone at NYSF radiated a passion for science and learning which inspired me to become a science and maths teacher so I could show more students that passion.”

Katie is nearing the end of a Bachelor of Information Technology & Science at the University of Queensland. Katie feels very passionate about the value of STEM and supporting young students to pursue this. “I applied for the Youth Advisor role with STEM Explorer because supporting students through the early days of an education in these fields is an endeavour I will always be passionate about.”

Damian is currently completing a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Sydney. He applied for the role as a Youth Advisor because – “Australia needs more students passionate about STEM and wanting to work in these fields in the future, I want to play a role in making students aware of the pathways they can take in STEM but also show them how interesting it can be.”

We asked the Youth Advisors – If you could give one piece of advice to the Year 7 & 8 students attending STEM Explorer, about pursuing a future in STEM, what would it be?

Here is what they had to say:

“Do it! There are an infinite variety of jobs in STEM and the beauty is, if you don’t like any of them you can make your own job. STEM is limitless and always changing, you will never be bored or lose passion within STEM.” – Tegan

Parallel to the NYSF’s own key mission, Damian says “Keep your options open and try as many things as possible, particularly at such a young age.  You never know what opportunities you will come by and which of those opportunities you will enjoy.”

What the NYSF has found through so many years of running STEM programs is the power in bringing together so many young students who are all enthusiastic about the same thing – STEM! The energy at the STEM Explorer Program in Adelaide was testament to that.

A big thank you to all our NYSF STEM Explorer Youth Advisors!

NYSF STEM Explorer roams across the Adelaide landscape

The first National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) STEM Explorer Program was delivered successfully in July, and what a week it was! Running from 17-21 July in Adelaide, the Program was the first residential STEM camp in Australia for year 7-8 students. Feedback from the students, site visit providers and all involved has been overwhelmingly positive allowing a strong base to build for next year’s program.

The NYSF STEM Explorer Program was delivered as a partnership by the NYSF and South Australian Department of Education and Child Development (DECD).  Championed by the NYSF’s Science Patron, Professor Tanya Monro from the University of South Australia, and supported by the Hon Susan Close MP, Minister for Education and Child Development and also for Higher Education, the STEM Explorer Program was designed to stimulate students’ interest in the study of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“The STEM Explorer Program is an ideal opportunity for our students to explore STEM on a deeper level and network with other students and experts who share similar interests and levels of passion in these subjects. There’s an identified need for more STEM graduates in the state, and NYSF have worked hard to tailor their specialist pilot program to profile a host of opportunities,” said Ms Close.

Picture: The Hon Susan Close MP speaking to the participants about the value of STEM.

Professor Tanya Monro believes STEM skills are critical to keep Australia moving as an innovative country. “STEM literacy is simply a core capability that Australian employers need. As an education provider, NYSF is proud to offer a new program which aims to attract new students to STEM and equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed.”

Picture: Professor Tanya Monro, NYSF Science Patron, getting to know the students in the Monro interest group.

A huge thank you to all of our supporters, who generously offered their time and resources to host the students and share with them their own science endeavours, research and passion for STEM:

  • The University of South Australia
  • The University of Adelaide – including the Why Waite program
  • Flinders University
  • the South Australian Museum
  • SciWorld
  • the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI)
  • the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI)
  • the South Australian Aquatic Sciences Centre (SAASC) and the
  • NRM Education – a program of the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board.
  • Finally, a big thanks to Mylor Adventure Camp for being excellent and supportive hosts!

Most importantly we owe thanks to our funding partners SA DECD and the National Innovation and Science Agenda (NISA).

Read about the NYSF STEM Explorer Program highlights here.

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.

Volunteer Opportunities for Alumni with NYSF STEM Explorer – July 2017

2017 is set to be a big year for the NYSF with the launch of a new pilot program, NYSF STEM Explorer. The program is a collaborative initiative between the South Australian Department of Education and Child Development (DECD) and the NYSF, with additional seed funding provided by the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

The Adelaide based program, running from 17-21 July 2017, is targeting science engagement for school students in years 7 and 8, with spaces for 120 students from across South Australia. In line with the vision of NYSF, the program aims to inspire young people to value science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and its importance in our communities. Planning is well underway for this exciting new program with visits to leading research facilities and industry sites.

Are you an NYSF Alumni looking for a professional development opportunity? Would you be interested to take on a role to help to facilitate the program? Have you missed the NYSF and want an opportunity to re-engage?

Calling all NYSF Alumni

Following a similar model to that of the NYSF Year 12 Program, STEM Explorer will be staffed by NYSF alumni volunteers, and applications are now open. We are looking for one STEM Explorer Coordinator to act as a “Chief of Staff” (must be over 21) as well as several Youth Advisors (must be over 18) to supervise events and student participation in the program. You can read more about the positions and their selection criteria through the links below.

Apply here to be a Youth Advisor for the 2017 STEM Explorer program

https://www.nysf.edu.au/volunteer/stem-explorer-volunteering-opportunity/

Apply here to be the STEM Explorer Coordinator for the 2017 STEM Explorer Program

https://www.nysf.edu.au/volunteer/stem-explorer-volunteering-opportunity-2/

Applications close midnight Sunday 21 May 2017.