Generation Beyond — Lockheed Martin’s STEM Program on Display at Avalon Airshow, Victoria

The first person to visit Mars is in school today. Will it be you?

In an Australian first, NYSF’s major partner Lockheed Martin is bringing its Generation Beyond STEM display to the Avalon Airshow in Victoria next month.

Generation Beyond is an educational program designed to inspire the next generation of innovators, explorers, inventors and pioneers to pursue STEM careers.

With a number of fun and interesting interactive displays, Generation Beyond will take visitors on a journey from today, into the future and beyond and will feature the F-35, the Orion spacecraft and Mars exploration.

Generation Beyond will be open to the public on the weekend of March 4 and 5 at Avalon.

IP Australia at the NYSF

After signing on as a major funding partner for the first time in 2016, IP Australia was actively involved in the program for the NYSF 2017 January Sessions. In both Session A & C, IP Australia ran lab visits for the students, introducing them to the world of intellectual property, patents, trademarking and more.

The site visit included a number of activities, starting with an explanation of intellectual property and why it is so important. As an interactive activity the students were each given a KeepCup and asked to think about the design of the product that made it unique, with relation to Intellectual Property rights.

The students had the opportunity to speak with a number of IP Australia Patent Examiners over afternoon tea to discover more on the work they do there. Finally, to finish off the session, the students heard from an entrepreneur about their experience applying for Intellectual Property rights and protecting their inventions.

For many of the NYSF participants this was an aspect of STEM that they had not considered, but realised just how important it could be to their future careers and endeavours. It also showed them another area where they could potentially use their STEM skills in the future, with IP Australia employing hundreds of scientists, engineers and other professionals, all around the country.

“I enjoyed the light this visit shed on careers I had not previously considered, it offered me a fresh perspective on job opportunities in a work environment that I found appealing,” said Jack Roussos (Session A 2017) from NSW.

Representatives from IP Australia also attended the Opening Ceremony at Parliament House, the Science Dinners, and both of the Partners’ Day events where they presented to all of the students, had a stall at the expo and involved a number of IP Australia staff in the Speed-date-a-Scientist session. You can read more about IP Australia’s involvement in the NYSF here in their own coverage of the events.

Matt Lee (Right) from IP Australia at the Session A NYSF Science Dinner

News from the University of Queensland

Here are two of the University of Queensland latest projects…

Food Lab by Ben Milbourne

UQ is working with 2012 MasterChef finalist Ben Milbourne to produce an online series of food science resources that align with Australia’s STEM Strategy 2025 initiative and the national science curriculum.

Each episode of Food Lab by Ben Milbourne will be accompanied by supporting material and resources for teachers and students including lesson plans, student activities, experiments, investigations, discussion topics and research tasks. You can register your interest in receiving these materials at www.uq.edu.au/bens-food-lab/eform/submit/uqform-learning-resources.

Food Lab by Ben Milbourne premiered on Channel 10 on Saturday 4 February 2017. With help from some of UQ’s most engaging teachers and researchers, Ben will explain and demonstrate common scientific principles in a way that’s fun and easy to understand — through cooking! You can catch up on all episodes at www.uq.edu.au/bens-food-lab/watch-episodes

QUERY101x Question Everything: Scientific Thinking in Real Life

This is the first MOOC of its kind in Australia, designed for high school students by high school teachers, working in partnership with UQ. Do you want to know how you can apply math and science skills to real life? This course will advance your knowledge and spark enthusiasm for further study of STEM subjects. Find out more and enrol.

NYSF 2017 Session A: Closing Ceremony

The final day of NYSF 2017 Session A was an emotional one to say the least. After two weeks of intense science and bonding with like-minded students, it was finally time to say goodbye. Who would have thought it could be so hard to do after a mere two weeks?

It was a rollercoaster of emotion; a fast moving mixture of ecstatic and saddening feelings – but it was exactly the way I remember it from my experience on NYSF a few years ago. There is nothing quite like it, and it isn’t an experience easily forgotten.

However, while it was the last day of the NYSF, we weren’t done learning just yet.

At the Closing Ceremony we were fortunate to have 2011 NYSF alumnus, Jeeven Nadanakumar share his story. Jeeven graduated with a Bachelor of Law with First Class Honours and a Bachelor of Economics at ANU in 2016. He has worked for World Vision Australia, and has represented the organisations in many fora, including at the United Nations in New York.

Jeeven had some powerful points about science, leadership, and what the future holds for our participants– particularly on what it takes to create change:

“In the 21st century, being a good scientist, engineer, researcher, or a good thinker, is simply not enough. You need to be a good advocate for your science and your research. That’s the only way you can have your voice heard and have an impact.”

“I’ve always found that it is the rule-breaking, risk-taking, creative, entrepreneurial, daring and adventurous people among us that make the best scientists, the best leaders, and the most interesting people to have over for dinner.”

In regard to being a good advocate for your work, Jeeven hinted that it’s always better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission:

“I’ve always found that it’s the rule-breaking, risk-taking, creative, entrepreneurial, daring and adventurous people among us that make the best scientists, the best leaders, and the most interesting people to have over for dinner.”

Having attended the NYSF in 2011, Jeeven knew exactly the calibre of the audience he was speaking to, but also knew the challenges they are destined to face in the year to come. He stepped down from the podium leaving the students pumped to go and tackle their year 12 and life beyond:

“You’re here at the NYSF because you have those some of those qualities. You’re leaders, and you’re prepared to think outside the box. The year ahead is going to be challenging, but if anybody is ready for it, it is you.”

“I hope that we maintain the friendships that we’ve made here for the rest of our lives, but what I hope even more is that you guys maintain your curiosity and unadulterated passion, and use it to change the world.”

Following Jeeven’s talk several of the students stood up to share their thoughts on their time at NYSF, and how they feel it had changed them as a person. Each of the speeches were incredible, but I picked up a couple of particularly eloquent quotes from our dear Frankie Mackenzie:

“What really made the NYSF though, as soppy as it sounds, is the people. It is the best feeling ever to see your friends’ face light up when they start talking about their favourite field of quantum physics.”

The evening wasn’t just emotional for the students, but also for all the dedicated student staff who put themselves out there and facilitated all the growth. Megan Lowry, the linchpin and head of the student staff, had a particularly heartfelt message to share:

 “Each one of you now are more than when you arrived. Whether you found your passion, found your voice, found your confidence, or found a friend – you are now more you. We are proud of you for it.” 

“Remember the NYSF however you can; whether that’s through photos, or writing it down. Because these emotions are transient, yet powerful. Only you will ever understand what it felt like to experience all these emotions in combination all at once.”

 “Each one of you now are more than when you arrived. Whether you found your passion, found your voice, found your confidence, or found a friend – you are now more you. We are proud of you for it.” 

And of course what would a Closing Ceremony be without some final words of wisdom from the CEO, Damien Pearce:

“We’ve been here for two weeks together, but the NYSF has just started for you. Your careers have just started for you. And I look forward to engaging with each one of you in the future.”

It is tough to say goodbye, but Damien speaks the truth when he says this is just the beginning. The NYSF changes lives, and its influence pops up again and again all throughout your life – whether that is in the work you do, the bold decisions you make, or the compassion you show to others.

I want to extend my own thank you to everybody at the Closing Ceremony and everybody behind the scenes making the NYSF the incredible and memorable experience that it is.

Keep sciencing, and don’t let your memes be dreams.

By Jackson Nexhip, NYSF 2017 Session A Communications Intern and NYSF 2013 Alumnus

NYSF 2017 Session A: Speed Date A Scientist

Speed Date A Scientist is an annual event at the NYSF that allows small groups of students sit and chat with many a variety of scientists from various disciplines and backgrounds. The turnout of scientists willing to be interrogated by the NYSF 2017 Session A cohort was phenomenal, resulting in an average of one scientist per group of four students.

The students have the opportunity to ask these scientists about their field, their career path, and their life in general. This article is a collection of quotes (including some bombs of wisdom) from some of incredible scientists who made the event possible.

Dr A J Mitchell – Nuclear Physics, RSPE ANU

“If you’re passionate about what you do, it makes going to work a whole lot easier.”

“At the heart of every atom you have a collection of protons and neutrons that really shouldn’t be held together – there is a whole lot of positive charge very close together so they should repel apart. The work we do is study that nuclei.”

“We collide them together, see what radiation comes off, and use that as a fingerprint to determine properties such as shape. This gives us a fundamental understanding of nuclear forces.”

“I always enjoyed mathematics and physics, and just always pursued what I enjoyed and now people pay me to do it.”

“If you’re passionate about what you do, it makes going to work a whole lot easier.”

 

Matt Lee – Assistant Director of Strategic Communication, IP Australia

“Doing a double degree you meet a whole bunch of different people, and you can demonstrate to employers that you have skills in many different fields.”

“Doing a double degree you meet a whole bunch of different people, and you can demonstrate to employers that you have skills in many different fields. For me I’m able to quickly read documents and give a sharp overview. It also gave me a strong understanding of global politics.”

“I go around to a lot of startup companies in IT, ag-tech, drone-tech, fin-tech and see a lot of amazing things.”

“One discipline in huge demand at the moment is data science. Everything involves data, but how do you make sense of it? People are needed to take the data, figure out how to interpret it, and make decisions.”

 

Gerard Dwyer – Teacher (Canberra Institute of Technology) and Education Officer (National Zoo and Aquarium)

“I used to like picking up and playing with lizards, but never realised it could be a job.”

“I used to like picking up and playing with lizards, but never realised it could be a job. Then I went to Questacon and got a job feeding the spiders – I love spiders so it was the easiest job I’ve ever had.”

“If you want to work in environmental areas, it pays to be interested in everything. ACT is good, because we have really strong legislation when it comes to the environment.”

“I realised that I can’t fix everything, but at least I can teach a lot of people.”

Gerard’s lizard friend, Sally

 

Claire Howell (Manager at National Forest Inventory)

“Do what you’re passionate about, and if you’re not sure what that is then do what you’re good at because that’s also motivating.”

“When I was in year 11 and 12 I knew I loved being outdoors, and I wanted to do Forest Science at university but I didn’t get in. So I did really well in my first year in another degree and then made my case with the Dean of the faculty and was transferred into second year Forestry.”

“Don’t think that your career will always be your career, because it will change.”

“Do what you’re passionate about, and if you’re not sure what that is then do what you’re good at because that’s also motivating.”

Students meet Claire Howell (Manager at National Forest Inventory) and Stuart Davey (Forest Ecology, Institute of Foresters Australia)

By Jackson Nexhip, NYSF 2017 Session A Communications Intern and NYSF 2013 Alumnus

NYSF 2017 Session A: Human Centred Computing

Nikola Poli (left) and Declan Rixon (right) in the lab

In Session A, NYSF 2017 participants ventured over to the Research School of Computer Science at ANU for a workshop and presentation on Human Centred Computing.

Human Centred Computing (HCC) is based around optimizing computing for people. It is concerned with the function of the computer just as much as it is concerned with ergonomics and the understanding of humans.

After a short introduction to the basics of HCC, students were free to roam around and the lab and look at some of the devices that the PhD students there had been working on.

Human Centered Computing

They had some pretty cool stuff on display, one being an eye tracking exercise through which you can navigate a computer by eye movements alone.

This technology could have an application for people who are unable to use their hands to navigate, but can also be used to learn what kind of information attracts attention on screen, and what doesn’t.

The eye gazing data can also be combined with measurements of heart rate and endodermal activity, then analysed using deep learning or neural network technology to paint a picture of how the content on the screen is making the user feel.

Eye gazing technology

This is the project of PhD student Chris from the Research School of Computer Science at ANU, who had a bit to say about career paths and life in computer science and software engineering:

“Everybody uses technology. Our graduates go off everywhere to big banks, startups and so on. There are always new ways to apply the way of thinking, and there are a wide range of things that IT can apply to.”

“My work is to research into how people use websites, read emails and so on, but the way you configure it could make it good for many things such as self-driving cars or finding a cancer tumour. The basis is the same – neural networks are able to iterate and learn by themselves.”

There are always new ways to apply the way of thinking, and there are a wide range of things that IT can apply to.

Another cool device they had was the Myo PowerPoint arm band, which when strapped to your forearm can monitor the electrical activity of your nerves and allow you to navigate a slideshow using hand gestures.

Double tap your thumb and index finger to go to the next slide, flick your wrist to go back, clench your fist and turn to zoom it. A built in gyroscope even allows you to use your fingertip as a laser pointer!

A very stoked Tom Wright (NYSF student) learning to navigate a PowerPoint presentation with hand gestures

The students left the lab today feeling pretty blown away I think. Myself included. The work that they’re doing here is super cutting edge and exciting, and I can’t wait for the day that I can write these articles with my eyeballs.

By Jackson Nexhip, NYSF 2017 Session A Communications Intern and NYSF 2013 Alumnus

NYSF 2017 Session A: Opening Ceremony

On Wednesday, the participants in NYSF 2017 Session A were off to the Australian Parliament House for the official Opening Ceremony. After the “compulsory” group selfies outside of Parliament House and a wait in the queue for the security check, they found themselves inside the Main Committee Room for a series of talks.

The Ceremony began with Mr Andrew Metcalfe AO, Chair of the National Science Summer School (NSSS) board, who had some fine words for the students making the most of attending the NYSF:

“The next couple of weeks is an opportunity for you to immerse yourself in all aspects of Australian science, the diversity of Australian science, and the opportunity to make friends and contacts from which you will benefit for a lifetime.”

After introducing the program Mr Metcalfe handed over to Mr Steve Hill, Rotary District Governor 9710, who recognised the key role that the students play in the ongoing success of the NYSF, as well as the critical parts they go on to play for the future of Australia:

“The most important thing in the world is our youth, our youth is our future. Every Rotarian in the world now recognises that without the assistance of our youth, us old folks can’t do it.”

“We need you to carry on into the future and to make this world a better place. For the next two weeks take advantage of what you’ve been given. Take all opportunities with both hands and run with them.”

“For the next two weeks take advantage of what you’ve been given. Take all opportunities with both hands and run with them.”

The students also heard from Dr Anna Cowan, Deputy Director of Education at the Australian National University (ANU)’s College for Medicine, Biology, and Environment, and the ANU College for Physical and Mathematical Sciences.

Dr Cowan has covered a lot over her extensive career, specializing in topics such as the central nervous system, cellular nervous systems, receptors and membrane biology, as well as other neurosciences. She is a renowned and esteemed scientist, and assured the students that they were in for good things by coming to the NYSF and following their passion in science:

“NYSF will be one of the most significant choices that will shape your future as a scientist. From my perspective, you’ve made the right choice. Not only in giving up your time over summer to attend the NYSF, but also in following your interest in science.”

 “STEM underpins a differentiated and adaptable economy. And such an economy is what is required in our rapidly changing environment. Automation and technological enhancements will change the work force, however they will also create new jobs. Most of those jobs will require science and technology.”

STEM underpins a differentiated and adaptable economy. And such an economy is what is required in our rapidly changing environment

Dr Cowan is also passionate about teaching and professional development, and dropped some gems that I’d be printing out and sticking to my wall if I were a student at the NYSF in 2017:

“The best scientists I know are those who are motivated by curiosity – by a need to understand their environment and who are driven by the opportunity which scientific knowledge provides to help humankind.”

“I challenge you while at the NYSF to find further insight into the world of scientific research. To exercise and expand your scientific curiosity, and to become an active and engaged member of the NYSF community. It is people like you, and your generation, that continue to navigate the challenges of our world. I wish you a fascinating and inspirational experience.”

It is people like you, and your generation, that continue to navigate the challenges of our world.

After the formal proceedings the students headed off for tours of Parliament House, followed by mock parliamentary debates about energy policy.

The first lab visits for the students are on the horizon – stay tuned for stories of students doing some seriously sciency things.

By Jackson Nexhip, NYSF 2017 Session A Communications Intern and NYSF 2013 Alumnus

PwC 21C Minds program winds up for 2016

In 2015, PwC developed the 21st Century Minds Accelerator Program to unearth, grow and scale Australia’s best STEM education initiatives. Twenty initiatives, including the National Youth Science Forum, were selected to be involved, and the program has operated throughout 2016. The final program workshops were held in November, prior to presentation pitching events held in Sydney and Melbourne.

These final workshops were facilitated by Education Changemakers, with contributions from The Difference Social Impact team and The School of Life, and allowed the initiatives one last formal opportunity to engage with each other, and consider possibilities for further collaboration.

“The PwC 21C Minds program has been an extremely valuable experience for the NYSF,” said CEO, Dr Damien Pearce. “It has allowed us to fast-track some of the development work we had already been undertaking, and in addition, it offered insights into the activities of other groups working the STEM arena, who we might be able to work with collaboratively in the future.”

Working with the PwC Canberra Mentors

Working with the PwC 21C Minds Mentors

“But perhaps most importantly, the support from the PwC Canberra mentor team, led by Ken Maxwell, has provided us with some clear directions for our future business development activities, and for some of our processes. We cannot emphasise how important accessing this support has been for us at this critical time in the public STEM discourse.”

PwC will be working with two of the 21CM initiatives in 2017 to further their development objectives.

Join the NYSF at the World Science Festival Brisbane 2017

The National Youth Science Forum is proud to announce that we will be hosting an event as part of the World Science Festival Brisbane to be held in March, 2017.

The event will be for local students in years 10-12 who are interested in studying STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) at university. And who better to answer their questions than NYSF alumni who are currently studying or have recently graduated from a STEM degree themselves!

The event will be in a Speed-date-a-(young)-Scientist format, giving participants the opportunity to move around and talk to a range of alumni, asking them their toughest questions about completing high school science and what it’s like to study at university.

The event will include three separate sessions, giving more young students the chance to participate, and is currently being promoted through the Queensland schools’ network by the team at the World Science Festival Brisbane.

We are now on the lookout for Brisbane based NYSF alumni who want to get involved with this opportunity to give back to the next gen of young students coming through. We understand it’s a bit early to know for sure if you’ll be available on the day, so for now we encourage you to let us know you are interested,  and we’ll put you on the email list for future updates. Alternatively, if you know someone that you think would be interested, we encourage you to share this article with them.

You can read more about the event here – Five Minutes With Your Future

Details

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Title:               National Youth Science Forum – Five Minutes With Your Future

Date:              Friday 24th March, 2017

Times:           There will be three sessions starting at 10am, 11:30am and 1:00pm

Location:       Collectors Cafe, Queensland Museum & Science Centre, South Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Audience:      High School Students in years 10-12.

Meet our Communications Interns for the NYSF 2017 January Sessions

Four National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) alumni have been selected as this year’s Communications Interns, given the task of capturing the experiences of 400 students during the January Sessions.

As alumni of the NYSF program, the four interns will have a great insight into what students will experience during their time at the NYSF. Covering Session A is Jackson Nexhip and Daniel Lawson, and in Session C are Megan Stegeman and Veronica O’Mara .

 

Jackson Nexhip

Jackson Nexhip (NYSF 2013 alumnus) will be commencing his third year of a Bachelor of Advanced Science in Chemistry at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in 2017. He also recently completed a year-long research project for a biomolecular design competition called BIOMOD.

BIOMOD is an annual undergraduate research competition in biomolecular design founded by The Wyss Institute at Harvard University. This year the competition was held at The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and capped at 24 entrants from universities from various countries including the United States, Canada, Germany, India, China, Korea and Japan.

In early 2016 Jackson set up the UNSW team, which was the only team from Australia and the southern hemisphere to compete this year.`

“Our project involved using a technique called DNA origami to build a nanoscale box which can capture specific molecular cargo – kind of like a nanoscale mousetrap. The box can capture cargo such as potent pharmaceuticals used in chemotherapy and can be modified to specifically deliver that cargo to diseased parts of the body, reducing non-specific interactions with healthy cells and minimising side effects”. nexhip

The five students on the UNSW team had to juggle the BIOMOD commitment with their university assignments and full-time course loads, while the other teams had the luxury of working on their projects over their summer break. In late October the UNSW team flew to UCSF for the final conference (a few weeks before exams), and took out the grand prize!

“Regardless of where we came in the official rankings of the competition, we had already won in our minds. The real experience of BIOMOD, and any other competition for that matter, isn’t the prize you get at the end but rather the things you learn and the person you become along the way.

With that said though, the win was a nice cherry on top.”

You can view a 3-minute YouTube video summarising the teams entry Here, or visit the website with all of the teams work in detail Here.

Jackson said he was really looking forward to coming to the NYSF in January.

“It was extremely exciting and motivating to meet so many like-minded people at the NYSF, who were so incredibly passionate about what they do. Post-NYSF I found myself much more determined to become the best I could be in science and with science communication. And of course I also scored a heap of amazing new friends and an invaluable insight into university life and careers in science.”

“The NYSF is what you make of it. Turn up keen and ready to go hard and you will have one of the greatest times of your life.”

Daniel Lawson

 NYSF 2015 alumnus, Daniel Lawson, recently completed his first year of study at the Australian National University (ANU), majoring in physics and applied mathematics. He is focusing on undergraduate research and aims to make one quarter of his course load related to research for the next two years of his undergraduate degree. Daniel is also preparing to begin his second year as an undergraduate resident of Burgmann College while looking for more opportunities to inform students about STEM possibilities in the Canberra region.nysf-2017-launch_0018

Daniel believes that the NYSF is best enjoyed with an open mind-set.

“Before I attended the NYSF I wanted to study engineering in Queensland. This changed when at the NYSF I was exposed to research opportunities which greatly influenced my study and career goals. The NYSF showed me the possibilities of scientific research, particularly during my undergraduate education. It was through an NYSF alumni that I discovered research focused degrees at ANU, in particular the PhD science program. Through the PhD program I’ve contributed to the SABRE experiment jointly run by the University of Melbourne and the ANU, with the goal of detecting dark matter through WIMP (weakly interacting massive particles) interactions.”  To find out more about the SABRE experiment click HERE.

Megan Stegeman

Megan (Meg) Stegeman (NYSF 2014 alumna), is currently at The University of Queensland, studying a dual degree in Science and Arts, Majoring in Genetics, Psychology (and possibly journalism) and plans to complete a PhD after her Bachelor.  She hopes to combine travel with her career. megan-steggeman

Meg said she is looking forward being a Communications Intern at the coming NYSF January Sessions.

 So excited to not only have a part in the program that helped shape my future, but to work behind the scenes and to get an idea of how much work and commitment is put in to achieve great outcomes.”

Veronica O’Mara

Veronica O’Mara (NYSF 2014 alumna), is about to start her second year studying Advanced Science and Law at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) following a gap year in England and Europe.  Her long term goal is to complete a PhD in genetics and work in medical research.1655856_723943020957353_1634706806_n

The NYSF experience helped Veronica shape her career goals and increase her confidence in public speaking.  And her advice to this year’s NYSF cohort?

“Make the most of it! It might seem daunting at first, meeting with hundreds of new people but as clichéd as it sounds, I met some of my best friends through NYSF. Also get involved in the lab visits, it really is a unique experience and gives you a taste of many fields. It’s a great opportunity to think about what you like and are interested in.”

NYSF 2017 participants are encouraged to say hello to the Communications Interns and talk with them about their NYSF experience.