National Youth Science Forum was a great time for Lucy Telfer

This January, Naracoorte High’s Lucy Telfer was among almost 600 participants selected from around Australia to participate in the National Youth Science Forum’s (NYSF) Year 12 Program. The aim of the 12-day residential program is to show the wide variety of engaging, rewarding and inspiring study and career options available in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) fields.

To accommodate all 600 participants, the program ran three separate sessions, hosted twice at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, and once at the University of Queensland (UQ) in Brisbane.

Lucy attended the program in Brisbane, and found the forum to be “really cool”, as the students were split into groups via interest.

Lucy’s group was focused on biology, and along with the other students, she learnt more about the opportunities on offer from various universities.

Many alumni from previous forums came to speak with the current group, and Lucy said that it was inspiring to hear their stories.

“That could be us – working really interesting jobs, and jobs we hadn’t really even thought of before.”

The experience was also useful in that it helped the students to think about their study options in a practical sense. Not only were Lucy and the others given useful advice on how to cope with the study workload of Year 12 and university, but they were also advised to follow their passions and interests, rather than just settle on the first course offered.

But on the subject of offerings, many universities had attractive incentives to try and get the high-achieving students enrolled in their institution.

“One thing that really stood out was that the visiting university reps had really cool gifts, and it was really nice. They really wanted us as students.”

Being invited to the NYSF is a prestigious honour, with only three students being accepted from the Limestone Coast (Lucy and two girls from Mt Gambier). 

But it was heartening for Lucy to see many students from rural areas also attending the forum, and to be able to get this opportunity: 

“It was nice to see, and I met a wide range of people.”

While attending the NYSF in Brisbane, a major highlight for the groups included hearing the final public address of Professor Alan Mackay-Sim in his formal role as the 2017 Australian of the Year at the NYSF Science Dinner.

Further highlights included visiting a number of UQ research institutes and research facilities, as well as other STEM laboratories and work sites around Brisbane including Sikorsky Helitech, the QUT Australian Centre for Robotic Vision, Griffith University Cities Research Institute, SPARQ-ed and TRI Microscopy, Powerlink, and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute.

This year marked the 35th year of continuous program delivery. Since launching in 1984, more than 11,500 young Australians have taken part, with the majority having gone on to study and work in STEM related fields.

Any student with a passion for science and technology can apply to attend the NYSF. Local students in Year 11 this year who are interested in attending in January 2019 can apply from March 1.

Regional students have a great chance of being accepted as a result of the NYSF’s relationship with Rotary clubs across Australia, who facilitate applications and selections.

In 2018, more than 43% of participants will come from remote and regional areas. Interested students should contact their local Rotary club for more information, or visit