The National Youth Science Forum is a summer school program which aims to help students entering Year 12 make informed decisions about their future career path in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). After a lengthy application process, we attended the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) at the Australian National University in Canberra from Wednesday 2 January to Sunday 13 January.
We along with other students from across Australia, were placed into groups based upon our STEM interests. Jacinta was in Mirzakhani, the Engineering and Advanced Manufacturing group and Carla was in Hill, the Biology group. With the other members of our group, we attended several STEM visits which focused on our interests. For example, Jacinta attended Engineers Without Borders and participated in a workshop on engineering prosthetic limbs, while Carla worked with gel electrophoresis to determine which set of DNA belonged to particular people.
We were also given the opportunity to select elective activities, which we attended separately from our interest groups. These activities gave us a chance to explore different areas of science. Jacinta attended a workshop on Arts and Code and Carla attended a Biomedical Engineering workshop.
We attended specialist lectures given by expert scientists such as Dr David Caldicott, a spokesman for the Australian Science Media Centre who discussed issues related to illicit drug use and the medical response to terrorism and disaster. Dr Caldicott is also a pioneer of pill testing at music festivals.
Apart from the science side of the program, we were able to develop our personal skills and make new friends through fun activities such as swing dancing and the science disco. We were also privileged enough to participate in a video call conducted inside the large Hadron Collider with a lead scientist at CERN. Additionally, we attended workshops on managing Year 12, which made us think critically and set life goals.
A highlight of our time at the NYSF was the science dinner where we networked with many science professionals and listened to a presentation from Dr Megan Clark, the Head of The Australian Space Agency, about the future of space travel in Australia.
We cannot put into words just how amazing and transformative this experience was for us. We not only learnt more about science but we have strengthened our leadership, interpersonal and problem solving skills. Participating in the NYSF has allowed us to develop our confidence as leaders and students of science and has provided us with a new motivation for the school year ahead. We have formed many new friendships with students from across Australia and have met amazing and inspiring people. The NYSF was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity and we are thankful for being given the opportunity to attend. We are grateful to the Rotary Clubs of Magill Sunrise and Mitcham for supporting our applications. We strongly encourage any Year 11 student who has an interest in any aspect of STEM to apply for this remarkable program, we promise you will have an amazing time too!
Jacinta and Carla
Year 12 Students