"I spoke for a few years at an Orientation event for attendees and their parents and warned the parents that the child who returned from NYSF would not be the same child they sent off and many parents have contacted me to agree" - Jo
Last week we heard from mother/daughter NYSF Alumni Janine and Indi comparing their time on the National Science Summer School (NSSS) and National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) respectively. For our next installment we are hearing from Alumni Jo and Abigail; what science stood out to them from their experiences on program? how has NYSF shaped their careers? and do they think Year 11 students should apply for the NYSF 2021 Year 12 Program? (hint: the answer to the last one might be a no brainer!)
Jo Potts attended the Canberra NSSS program in 1987 in Canberra, 28 years later her daughter Abigail Thomas attended the NYSF 2015 Session A Canberra program. Here are just some of their NSSS/NYSF memories.
What was a piece of science you witnessed at the program?
I was in the chemistry subgroup. We had a very enjoyable lab visit where we made a conducting polymer. This experiment involved what was new technology and would have been almost impossible to replicate in a school situation making the experience something unique to attending the Summer School. We also visited a forensics lab where we were lovingly introduced to a piece of vital high tech equipment - a hairdryer. -J
In one visit to the physics department, I operated a photophone over a small distance. It was a bit cloudy and the equipment was a little old, so the signal wasn't great, but this was my first time using communications equipment and actually understanding how it worked. -A
What was your dream or passion in year 12, what is it now?
Medicine - I wanted to be a Doctor (you did not mention that out loud at NSSS in 1987 because to quote Dr Jory ‘Medicine is a parasitic profession”) and I did become a doctor!. My passion now sounds cliché but - it’s my family! -J
In year 12 I wanted to be a physicist, that didn't last long as I switched to computer science in second year. At the moment I'm most interested in systems engineering, particularly problems where computers have to interact with the physical world, but can't afford to break. When your computer could get wet, fall over, or occasionally have bits flipped by incoming cosmic radiation, reliability becomes a really interesting challenge. -A
What is your favourite memory from the program?
I don’t have one particular favourite memory but most of the things I can look back on and smile or still laugh about revolve around the other participants - simply the people I met, the songs that were particular to that fortnight and the funny little unscripted, unscheduled happenings that made it a unique and special experience. -J
Probably the banter and running jokes in my focus group. NYSF was an easy place to be socially, and we were all comfortable having a joke with each other pretty early on. I'm still close friends with one of my groupmates, and the kind of humour that started at NYSF has been a consistent part of that friendship. -A
What would you say to prospective NYSF 2021 Year 12 applicants?
I would wholeheartedly encourage any year 11 student with an interest in science to apply for NYSF. In fact, until recently I have done this through Rotary at a local level since Abigail attended and I continue to promote NYSF at my children’s school. I am passionate about this program and the transformative effects it has on those who are fortunate enough to participate. I spoke for a few years at an Orientation event for attendees and their parents and warned the parents that the child who returned from NYSF would not be the same child they sent off (in many and differing ways but all of them good) and many parents have contacted me to agree. -J
And to those going through high school and beyond?
Read a lot and take as many electives as possible. Trying different things for the hell of it is important both for building generally useful skills and finding something you really enjoy. Do this even if you think you know exactly what you want to study: if you're anything like me, you could end up changing your mind before long. -A
Thank you to Jo and Abigail giving us glimpse into their Year 12 experience, we can't wait to see what STEM innovation both alumni participate in! Hear more from just a sample of our alumni families next week with Tom and Kaylene.
Application for the NYSF 2021 Year 12 Program close in one month! Encourage all STEM passionate Year 11 students to apply here!