Posted on 09 February, 2018 in Students, Events

National Youth Science Forum

National Youth Science Forum

The National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) has a Year 12 Program 12-day residential program designed to give students a broader understanding of the diverse study and career options available in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and to encourage them to continue their studies in these fields. Darwin High School Year 12 student Zoe Heath was selected to attend the 2018 program.

By student Zoe Heath

In January of this year I was lucky enough to participate in the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF). I spent two amazing and life changing weeks in Brisbane visiting labs, living on the University of Queensland (UQ) campus and forging new friendships founded on a mutual love for all things nerdy.

The NYSF is a rotary sponsored program available to Year 11 students who are going into Year 12 with an interest in following STEM as a career. It has been operating since 1984 and has over 11, 000 alumni. The program encourages students to broaden their interests and understanding of the diversity available in STEM career paths.

This year there were three sessions, with A and C being held in Canberra and B in Brisbane. Approximately 200 students attended each session. Canberra sessions are hosted by the Australian National University and the Brisbane sessions are hosted by UQ. Staying on campus is a great opportunity to investigate college accommodation as well as the facilities available to university students and the general atmosphere.

The application for the program was quite rigorous and thus I was expecting sessions to be very intellectually demanding and focused solely on lectures and lab visits, but it was much more than that. There was a huge emphasis on having a well-rounded life style, showing interest in many different areas, learning new skills and being community minded. The student staff with whom you interact, a lot were incredible and offered invaluable advice on how to approach Year 12.

It is truly eye opening to meet and hear from accomplished scientists and has inspired me to take my passion for science further. The program places a huge emphasis on networking and social activities so you make many new friends and people always make you feel welcome. The program really pushed me in a plethora of ways and allowed me to grow as a person while having a great time. I learnt so many invaluable skills outside of lectures and workshops as well as during them.

One of the best things about the NYSF was having the ability to be yourself and ask questions without fear of judgement. I had the opportunity to see people at their best and also while they felt vulnerable which has helped me foster some of the strongest friendships in my life so far. Everyone who attended felt inspired to take life on as a result of being surrounded by passionate people over the two weeks and I hope that I continue to strive to take every opportunity because you never know when you can turn something extremely ordinary into something extraordinary.

Pictured: friends I met through our love for musical theatre. We took these before attending the ‘science dinner’. The guest speaker there was Professor Alan Mackay-Sim, 2017 Australian of the year.

Pictured above: the ‘Doherty’ interest group. This was my group and we were one of the two medical groups on session. You elect your interest group prior to attending session and choose based on what you want to study at university. Lab visits (or STEM visits) among other activities are conducted with interest groups. This was us on the second last day.

Pictured above: Particle physics lecture with a member of the NYSF alumni.

Pictured above: Doherty interest group in costume for the disco.

Applications for the 2019 session open on March 1 and I urge all Year Elevens who are interested in studying STEM at university to apply. It is a wonderful way to learn about career options, meet new people and have a fantastic time. Go to for more information.

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