Help us celebrate our 35th year in 2018

The celebrations for the National Youth Science Forum’s (NYSF) 35th year in 2018 are well underway with many events planned to mark the occasion!

The festivities started at our Canberra Year 12 Program launch at The Australian National University (ANU) in November with a cake cutting and a heartfelt speech by an alumnus who attended our very first session in 1984, Professor Tim Senden, now the Director of the Research School of Physics and Engineering at the Australian National University (ANU).

This was quickly followed by our launch of Session B at The University of Queensland (UQ), attended by many alumni currently studying at UQ, where Provost Professor Aidan Byrne explained why he thought the NYSF would be a valuable addition to the UQ outreach programs. In 2018, two Year 12 Programs will be delivered in Canberra at the Australian National University (ANU) and a new third session in Brisbane at the University of Queensland (UQ).  Nearly 600 students will participate across the three sessions in 2018!

Our Science Teachers Program will also continue in 2018, with a session in Canberra at ANU and, for the first time, a second session also in Brisbane at UQ, catering for 80 teachers.  All of these NYSF programs are made possible through the hard work and dedication of many including our funding partners, 68 volunteer student staff, Rotary volunteers, guest speakers, lab visit providers, board members and corporate team – there are so many people involved to make the January Sessions come to fruition!

NYSF CEO Dr Damien Pearce said the 35th Anniversary looking forward to the NYSF’s 35th year celebrations.

“The 35th Anniversary celebrations allow us look at our past and reflect on the events and people who have helped shape the NYSF – from its days as the National Science Summer School (NSSS) – into the organisation it is today. It also allows us to look to our future, as we continue to evolve to meet the demands of the Australian community.”

“We encourage our alumni to participate in our events and activities and share their stories with the NYSF and other alumni. With over 11,000 alumni there are a lot of stories to tell,” Dr Pearce said.

The NYSF Year 12 Science Dinners are always a favourite event, and in 2018 we have three very distinguished and inspirational keynote speakers who have accepted the invitation to address the students.  The Session A Science Dinner keynote speaker is Professor Lyn Beazley AO FTSE, former Western Australia Chief Scientist, an eminent scientific innovator, communicator, educator, and neuroscientist. In Session B, 2017 Australian of the Year, Professor Emeritus Alan Mackay-Sim, a biomedical scientist specialising in adult stem cell research, will be speaking; and at the Session C Dinner we will hear from internationally acclaimed medical researcher and philanthropist Professor John Shine AO FAA. Professor Shine is the current CSL Chairman and was recently appointed as incoming President of the Australian Academy of Science.

And the line-up of amazing speakers will continue at our Rotary Alumni Evenings with Professor Liesl Folks, (Session A), Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the University at Buffalo in New York state, and an internationally recognised expert in nanotechnology and magnetism. Liesl attended the very first NYSF/NSSS session in 1984. Volcanologist, Dr Rebecca Carey, NYSF 1997 Alumna (Session B) a Senior Lecturer at the University of Tasmania, and meteorologist, Nate Byrne, NYSF 2001 Alumnus (Session C), the weather presenter on ABC TV News Breakfast.

We encourage all our alumni to ‘Save The Date’ and join us to hear from these talented scientists.

STEM Speed-dating is happening again in all three sessions in January – two in Canberra and one in Brisbane.

Students have the opportunity to “work the room” and talk to a range of people who have studied a STEM field or work in STEM-related careers.

We would love to have you and some of your colleagues along to this event to talk to students about career paths in your area. To find out more or to register, please follow the link HERE

In addition we will be featuring the stories of some of our alumni with our 35 alumni over 35 years in 35 weeks social media campaign.  Follow the NYSF Facebook Page to read about their stories, and if you are an alumni with a story to share, please contact leonie@nysf.edu.au. Our alumni are our best ambassadors!

We’ve also kept the designers at Shirty Science busy creating a special edition 35th Anniversary T-shirt.  Keep an eye on our Facebook page to find out when they’ll be available for sale.

We hope you can help us celebrate this milestone in 2018. For further information about up-coming events follow us on social media.

Facebook – /NYSFoz

Twitter – /NYSFoz

Instagram – /nysfoz

LinkedIn – National Youth Science Forum

or email Leonie at leonie@nysf.edu.au.

A lesson in physics for the Governor-General

It’s not every day that you get to teach the Governor-General a lesson in physics … but that’s exactly what happened to one of our National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) alumni at Government House Open Day on the weekend.

Along with the other organisations of which the Governor-General is Patron, the NYSF was invited to participate in the Government House Open Day in Canberra in October last week.

National Youth Science Forum, STEM, Alumni, Government House Open Day

And the NYSF was honoured when the Governor-General, His Excellency, General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd) and Mrs Lynne Cosgrove visited our stand to generate some hand-cranked electricity from the Van de Graaff generator, kindly loaned by the Australian National University’s Department of Quantum Science Physics Education Centre.

The Open Day is an annual event and the perfect spring weather led to record crowds lining up to gain a peek inside the spectacular Residence and explore the magnificent 54 hectares of gardens.

Our fabulous alumni volunteered to help out at the NYSF stand, talking to the public about their NYSF experience, sharing their passion for science, making NYSF badges with the visitors, and doing their own fair share of electricity generation with the Van de Graaff generator.

NYSF 2011 alumnus, Mitchell de Vries welcomed the Governor-General to our stand, giving His Excellency an impromptu physics lesson.

“It was such a lovely day for it (Open Day) and it was really refreshing to be meeting people from toddlers to seniors who were all as equally excited to learn about science.”

“Giving the Governor-General a crash course on the physics was also quite heartening, he was interested in understanding.”

Government House Open Day, NYSF Alumni, National Youth Science Forum

Isabel Beaumont, a 2017 NYSF alumna also volunteered at the NYSF stand.

“Helping out was a great opportunity to see Government House and meet our Governor-General. Volunteering for the NYSF, and being an alumni of the program, provides so many exciting opportunities such as this and I love being able to promote science to so many people. Volunteering for the NYSF allows you to meet many interesting people.”

The NYSF thanks His Excellency and Mrs Cosgrove, and the staff at Government House for inviting the NYSF to participate in the Open Day event, and the alumni for their support on the day: Mitchell de Vries, Vivienne Wells, Joe Kacsmarski, Jaslin O’Connell and Isabel Beaumont.

Taking the “Next Step” in Sydney for STEM study information

The National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) continued its Next Step program in Sydney this July over a two-day period.  The Next Step Program is an extension of our January Year 12 Program – allowing the current year’s participants with the opportunity to further their knowledge about career and study options available to them.

Day one saw visits to our partner organisations ResMed and Cochlear in the morning and the Sydney Observatory and Powerhouse Museum in the afternoon.

At ResMed students toured the facilities of one of the biggest chronic sleep disorder device corporations in the world. They explored the ResMed manufacturing warehouses, had discussions with leading research and development engineers, and tried their hand at assembling various sleep apnoea devices.

During the Cochlear visit participants went behind the scenes for a glimpse into the hearing implant market and saw why Cochlear is a world-wide market leader.

In an interactive exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum, participants were transported back to Sherlock Holmes’ Victorian London to try and crack the case by conducting their own experiments.

Isabel Beaumont, one of this year’s cohort said NYSF’s Next Step program was a valuable addition to the January Year 12 Program.

“The Next Step programs are always useful as they further broaden your understanding of all the possible careers in science.  The are also a great way to reconnect with friends from the NYSF,” she said.

“I really enjoyed the visit to the Cochlear headquarters. We were able to tour their implant manufacturing facilities and see some very impressive machinery.”

During the evening the NYSF held an Alumni Event that you can read about here.

At the Sydney Observatory, in the heart of the CBD, students looked through a telescope over a century old, as well as more modern equipment. They viewed sunspots on our Sun, and the largest planet in the solar system, Jupiter. They also discussed career options with Danica, the tour guide, who is completing a PhD in Astronomy.

The following day students visited the University of New South Wales (UNSW).  There were multiple visits available such as the opportunity to build and engineer solar cars, explore the Museum of Human Diseases and listen to lectures about psychology, optometry, medicine and various other degrees. NYSF alumni who are at UNSW studying degrees across science, medicine and engineering, visited the group, and  heard about the amazing scholarship opportunities UNSW offers.

NYSF 2017 alumnus, Ben Kirsh said he got a better insight into university life after visiting UNSW.

“It was really good to see the uni (UNSW) and the student tour guides were great because they showed you the side that isn’t portrayed in the open day brochures. They gave insider knowledge of senior students which I thought was pretty cool … and confirmed to me that attending UNSW next year is very possible. All in all we came away with a lot of great information and advice we can use to make informed decisions about study and career options into the future.”

Ben also felt that Next Step gave him additional information about future career and study options.

“Next Step was very useful as it allowed the opportunity to see other (NYSF partner) universities such as UNSW and talk to students currently studying a range of degrees in differing fields to question them to see which may fit myself the best. It also allowed me to catch up with people I met at NYSF, as well as meeting people from other sessions,” he said.

We would like to thank our partners for their continued support and in particular those organisations that participated in the Sydney Next Step Program, IP Australia, UNSW, ResMed, Cochlear and UTS.

Sharing Knowledge and Experience – Sydney Next Step Alumni Event

In partnership with IP Australia the NYSF hosted the second Alumni Event in July. The event was held at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), where our newest cohort of NYSF participants had the opportunity to listen to older NYSF alumni about their education and career journeys.  The Alumni Event was part of the Sydney Next Step Program which you can read about here.

Professor Louise McWhinnie, Dean of the Faculty of Transdisciplinary Innovation welcomed everyone to UTS, and then several NYSF Alumni spoke about their study and work since leaving high school.

Stephanie Pearce (NYSF 2010)  now works as a patent examiner at IP Australia. Stephanie shared insights about life after NYSF, particularly her career at IP Australia, and the importance of protecting  intellectual property.

Associate Professor Alison Beavis, (NYSF 1997) who is Deputy Dean for the UTS Department of Transdisciplinary Innovation said she felt a part of the NYSF family and offered some sage advice to this year’s cohort.

“This year will be a hard, crazy year but remember in the end it will be incredibly exhilarating. It’s a long journey but you are not alone, you are always being supported.”

Our keynote speaker, Associate Professor Josephine Clayton,  attended the very first NYSF (previously known as National Science Summer School – NSSS) in 1984. She spoke about her professional and personal journey in medicine, and an experience with a dying patient’s attitude to medical care that changed the course of her career.  Associate Professor Clayton is the Director of HammondCare’s Centre for Learning and Research in Palliative Care. Her research aims to explore the best ways to facilitate open discussions around palliative care that aligns with the patient’s wishes as opposed to looking at the issue from a purely medical point of view.

“In an ageing population we can’t cope with palliative care. There are not enough beds.  We need to get GPs involved.”

“I am blessed to have a job that has dedicated time to researching and teaching.  I love collaborative research that focuses on translating research into clinical practice,” Associate Professor Clayton said.

The other presentations highlighted the diversity of our alumni’s experiences, touching on everything from overcoming obstacles and changing paths, through to advice on what employers are currently looking for and following your passion.  All in all NYSF alumni had a great evening, gaining great advice about study options and career, networking and meeting other alumni and catching up with old friends.

NYSF thanks our alumni speakers including Rhys Killian (NYSF 2013), Emily Smith (NYSF 2010), and Jacob Silove (NYSF 2014)  and our fabulous MC Jason Borg (NYSF 2010).  A special thank you also to Professor Louise McWhinnie, Associate Professor Alison Beavis, the staff at UTS who made the evening such a great success and IP Australia for its continued support.

My Dream Job as a Bioanalytical Chemist with CSL

CSL has been a valuable partner to the NYSF for eight years and has a range of exciting career options available for STEM graduates. Keep reading to discover more about just one career path on offer at CSL.

“I always thought I would end up in biology, but through exposure to practical work I ended up in chemistry and then biochemistry. So I would definitely say expose yourself to as many different areas of science as you can. This can be through reading, attending public lectures, practical-based school holiday workshops, working with a tutor, emailing someone at a university, watching videos on TED and YouTube and the myriad of open access courses available online.

CSL Scientist Alistair Grevis-James turned his childhood love of fish-keeping and propagating plants into a dream job as a Bioanalytical Chemist. Now he helps develop biotherapies for people with life-threatening medical conditions.  Alistair’s dream job profile appears in the 2017-18 edition of Student Guide Australia, a survival guide to life beyond school. For more dream job profiles, study and career advice, you can grab a copy here: http://au.educationhq.com/student-guide-australia/

NYSF 1987 Alumnus, Dr Jason Smith, talks about his varied career path

I attended the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF), formerly known as the National Science Summer School (NSSS), in 1987, some 30 years ago – that does make me sound old! It was the first time I realised there were lots of other kids like me who really enjoyed science, and it was fantastic to make friends across the country with others who shared a similar outlook. I was in the Human Biology group at NYSF/NSSS, which gave me a great insight into the world of health care and science within it.

Following Year 12 I studied Medicine at University of Queensland (UQ) and after working as a hospital doctor for a couple of years I started work as a GP. I then studied Civil Engineering as it was another area of interest for me, and I worked in that area for a short while before coming back to Medicine. After more time working as a GP, I undertook specialist training to become an anatomical pathologist, which is my job now and I love it.

In high school my favourite subject was biology and at the NYSF/NSSS I was amazed to see the possibilities that science was bringing to this field. The emerging knowledge of genetics that I first became interested in at NYSF/NSSS is now part of my regular work in regards to the different genetic mutations in tumours that we test for. A better understanding of these mutations allows for more accurate diagnoses and treatment with newer targeted therapies. This area of medical science is still changing at a rapid pace!

The NYSF/NSSS had a profound effect on me. It gave me the motivation to keep studying hard at school to get into university and opened my eyes to the wide range of jobs and careers that are based on the different sciences. It also gave me self-confidence – even if my school mates thought I was a bit of a nerd, I now knew there were others just like me all around the country who I’d met and made friends with.

I still keep in touch with fellow students from NYSF/NSSS 1987, both as friends and work colleagues. And although I’ve lost contact with some of the other students I met there, I’m sure many of them have also found their way to a happy and successful life somewhere in the sciences.

Highlights of NYSF STEM Explorer 2017

“I thought it was very interactive, interesting and fun to learn about how things can be structured.”

NYSF STEM Explorers were kept busy throughout the five-day program in Adelaide.

Arriving on Monday afternoon, participants spent the first afternoon getting to know each other, their Youth Advisors and the NYSF team.

On Tuesday, the day kicked off with a critical and scientific thinking workshop hosted by Ellen from NYSF designed to encourage analytical thinking and questioning, so important in this era of fake news. That afternoon was the first off-site lab visits, where the participants were split into five groups, visiting five different sites.

One group was thrilled to explore Lochiel Park, a housing development using latest science innovations to strive for sustainable, low emission living. In Lochiel Park the houses have a minimum 7.5 star energy efficiency rating and use on average 64% less energy than an average house. The Park has won a number of design awards since first being built over a decade ago and is supported by a a strong community engagement program.

Another visit toured the South Australian Aquatic Sciences Centre, a purpose-built marine and freshwater research facility. Students learned about why it is important to manage fishing stock into the future, and the Centre’s role in supporting the sustainable management of those fisheries resources. They also looked at the wider aquatic environment and how it underpins sustainable growth of aquaculture industries in South Australia, which can lead to future employment for the community.  The tour showed how oysters are grown, and how algae is farmed and harvested to feed crustaceans. Students dissected fish, looking closely at the otilith – a small bone in a fish’s ear that determines its age.

Mount Barker High School student, Cameron said the visit was well prepared and very informative.

“There is a lot under the topic of marine biology – a lot of work that isn’t talked about,” he said. “We learnt a lot of things like the management of fisheries, different methods of catching fish and other sea life.”

At the visit to the South Australian Museum on Wednesday the Chief Scientist of South Australia, Dr Leanna Read, spoke to the students about her role and own career. There were also talks from two PhD candidates – a palaeontologist and a microbiologist – both of whom engaged the students with their stories from their fields. More site visits, including to  South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) where the students toured the innovative building and learned that the design was modelled on a pine cone (and not a cheese grater as many often comment). With 16,000 windows and more than 600 scientists, there is certainly a lot going on at SAHMRI!

The University of Adelaide’s Why Waite program hosted students for some fascinating hands-on science. In the soil experiment, they learned about the different absorption properties of sand, soil and clay and how this would impact plants growing in those different soils. After that, the students got their hands dirty learning how to extract DNA from strawberries.

The University of South Australia hosted five visits from students.  In one visit, “Waging Peace”, they learned about the ongoing impacts of land mines used in war-torn countries. And during a tower building exercise, they put on their engineering hats. Working in teams, they set about designing and drafting plans to build a tower out of spaghetti and marshmallows so it could support a small can of tuna.

Monique from Parafield Gardens High School took away a lot from the Tower Building workshop:

“I thought it was very interactive, interesting and fun to learn about how things can be structured.  I learnt that through trial and error and team work you can make something better.”

The Government of South Australia’s Natural Resources Management Board (NRM) Water Testing Activity saw all of  the STEM Explorers take to the water at the Mylor Adventure Camp – the program’s host site.  During the water testing in the local creek they looked for aquatic macro-invertebrates, and found numerous specimens from yabbies to scuds, mosquito larvae and water mites.  They also surveyed the bird life to gain a general overview of the biodiversity at Mylor.

Amy Blaylock, NRM Education Officer said the testing helped to make the students aware that there is so much life around them, even though they can’t see it.

“Even though they’re (macro-invertebrates) small they’re still part of the eco-system.  They give us a long-term picture of what’s happening with the eco-system.  It’s fascinating because you get so many stories of adaptation and niches they occupy.”

Forty Students to benefit from new NYSF Equity Scholarship

Scholarship, NYSF, National Youth Science Forum, NYSF, STEM

Biological Anthropology, ANU College of Arts and Social Science

If you’re thinking about applying for the NYSF 2018 Year 12 Program but are not sure about the cost – our equity scholarships may help you on your way. The scholarship will award up to 40 students $1,000 each towards their fee to attend the Program.

The NYSF Equity Scholarships are designed to encourage young people from more diverse backgrounds to attend by contributing to the reduction of the participation fee.

The NYSF Equity Scholarship stems from funding secured from the Department of Industry Innovation and Science (DIIS) via the National Science and Innovation Agenda (NISA).

To find out more about our Equity Scholarships follow the link HERE

There may be further opportunities to cover part or all of the programs cost through community fundraising or sponsorship, or contributions from your endorsing Rotary Club or school.

Please Note: Submitting an application for an Equity Scholarship does not constitute an application to attend the NYSF Year 12 Program. A separate application for NYSF 2018 will also need to be completed.

If you have any questions that are not answered by the information on our website, please email programs@nysf.edu.au

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.

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