College Leader Attends National Youth Science Forum

​Over the recent holidays, I was fortunate enough to attend the National Youth Science Forum’s Year 12 Program. NYSF is a non-profit organisation that runs several science outreach activities. Its flagship NYSF Year 12 Program runs in January each year. The program is a 12-day residential activity for students interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) where participants stay on campus at a host university and gain significant insights into the variety of study and career opportunities available across STEM fields as well as experience university campuses, facilities and lifestyle. This is done through a Laboratory and site visits, lectures, workshops and networking and social events.  


I attended Session C, which was based in Canberra and hosted by the Australian National University. Participants are separated into 14 interest groups, each focusing on a different branch of science, in order to tailor STEM visits to the student’s interests. I was part of the Doherty interest group, named after Peter Doherty, which focused on health and medical sciences. Due to this, I visited a variety of laboratory and research facilities including; John Curtain School of Medical Research (situated on the ANU campus), University of Canberra Faculty of Health Sciences, ACU Exercise Science and visits to a pathology lab and the Therapeutic Goods Administration as well as a videoconference with the deputy head of the physics department at CERN. Throughout these visits I participated in activities in areas including cancer research, neuroscience, immunology, virtual reality, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, midwifery and drug and medical equipment testing. Each visit opened my eyes to new applications and pathways in STEM. My favourite however was visiting the Therapeutic Goods Administration as we performed a titration aimed to test that the amount of aspirin contained in the tablet was the same as what was stated by the manufacturer. This activity reminded me of my passion for chemistry and taught me a real-world application.   


There are also a number of social and networking events including the Rotary and Alumni Evening, Partners Day and the Science Dinner. These are fantastic opportunities to talk to alumni and industry experts, learn about their careers, and STEM pathways. Partner’s Day is also a great way to learn more about science roles in companies and what different universities around Australia offer. The keynote speaker at the science dinner was Australia’s chief scientist Dr Alan Finkle. Dr Finkle’s presentation was very interesting and inspiring as he told of his experiences and shared his life principles; to master the foundations, take on tough challenges, believe that there is always a better way, make a relentless commitment to quality and to always walk through the door of opportunity. He also instructed us to never be afraid to pivot, whether that means moving to a different field of STEM or changing careers completely.  


Overall, attending the NYSF confirmed my passion for the medical field but has provided me with many pathways and careers to further look into and consider. Meeting such encouraging and inspirational likeminded people and sharing in the mutual enthusiasm and passion for science has left me motivated and excited to pursue further studies and in the future a career in STEM, whatever form that may take. 


Erin Brown 

Year 12 Student and College Leader