As always there are several opportunities to get involved with the goings-on in January!
The action is ramping up here in the NYSF office with less than a month to go until the first participants arrive for the NYSF 2019 Year 12 Program. The almost 600 students who will be joining us for the NYSF 2019 Year 12 Program this January have been selected by Rotary as community-minded, well rounded students with an interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Along with the members of the student staff leadership team, who will be very capably led by Blake Cutler, Brie Synnot, and Max Dewez, I am very much looking forward to welcoming everyone from across Australia to both Canberra and Brisbane this January. This also includes the teachers participating in the two sessions of the NYSF National Science Teachers Summer School and all our invaluable Rotary volunteers.
In the latest NYSF news, we are very pleased to welcome Bayer on board as a new funding partner, confirmed for 2019 and 2020. The funding includes contributions to the NYSF Equity Scholarship fund. I welcome Bayer Australia’s funding partnership with the NYSF because it recognises our leadership in STEM program delivery. The additional funding Bayer has provided to our Equity Scholarships will also make an important difference to the support we can provide to students from regional and remote communities where attendance at the NYSF Year 12 Program might not otherwise be possible.
I am very pleased to see the second year of our expanded programming, with the third session of the NYSF Year 12 Program taking place again in Brisbane with our host at the University of Queensland, along with the second NSTSS program, also based at UQ. This is once again thanks to the support from the National Innovation Science Agenda (NISA) and we are proud to be able to offer an additional 200 young students the opportunity to join our program thanks to their support.
This month, the entire NYSF team completed the Bravehearts Child Protection training, as the NYSF moves to become a leader in the area of child protection. I’d like to thank the team at Bravehearts for their highly valuable and insightful training day.
In October, we enjoyed two successful launch events for the NYSF 2019 Year 12 Program - one in Canberra held at the Australian Academy of Science’s Shine Dome, and one in Brisbane held as part of the program of Science and Technology Australia’s Science Meets Business. We are very appreciative of the positive working relationships and the opportunity to coordinate with both of these leading science sector organisations dedicated to promoting the respect and advancement of science in Australia. You can read more about the launches here.
At the end of October, my team and I welcomed Rotary District Chairs from around the country to Canberra for the Rotary DC’s Conference. This offered a useful opportunity for everyone, to discuss the current processes around district selections - an enormous task undertaken by our friends at Rotary, with an estimated contribution of 20,000+ hours in the process. Read in more detail here.
I am also pleased to report that once again the NYSF has successfully passed Give2Asia’s due diligence process allowing us to apply for funding grants through their international network of donor organisations. Their approval signifies that the NYSF has been held to the highest standards of validation. The additional funding secured from the Amgen Foundation for NYSF 2019 Year 12 Program was processed through Give2Asia and we acknowledge the ongoing support and guidance of both organisations.
On that note, you may not be aware that the NYSF is a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, with donor gift recipient status. You can donate now through our website herewith funds going to support the activities of the NYSF.
And now a call to action!
As always there are several opportunities to get involved with the goings-on in January.
We are still looking for scientists to join our Speed-date-a-Scientist sessions on the 10th and 24th of January in Canberra, and the 17th in Brisbane. All enthusiastic scientists are welcome to participate! Please read more here.
The Rotary and Alumni evening events are now open for registration. The events are free to attend and include supper. I encourage all NYSF Alumni and Rotary members to come along. This is one of my personal favourites, as it is always a pleasure to hear stories from our NYSF Alumni on their science journeys and experiences!
Before I go, I’d like to share a story with you…
A few years ago, there were five students at a visit to a partner university as part of their NYSF program. The topic of the activity was solving problems and started with a senior academic, a leader in their field, talking about the importance of interdisciplinary research to solve the some of the world’s most complex problems. Upon the completion of this discussion, the students were taken to a large sink within the adjacent lab which was full of water.
On one side of the sink sat two empty ice-cream tubs.
The professor explained that the purpose of the activity was to work as a team to empty the sink as efficiently and safely as possible within 30 minutes. Without spilling a drop, the students used the ice-cream containers to carefully move the water from the sink to a garden outside. The students completed this task in 20 minutes and were very proud of themselves.
The professor reflectively said to the students, “That was a pretty average effort. What would you do differently if you were going to do this activity again?” The students’ celebration instantly turned to annoyance as they looked at each other perplexed. One student spoke up and suggested that they only had the ice-cream containers to complete the task and besides using them as vessels to transport the water from the sink to the garden, they are pretty useless, and nothing could have been done differently.
With a smile the professor said, “What about taking out the plug?”
The point of this fictional story is to highlight the importance of encouraging young people to question assumptions and unconscious bias as we do through the NYSF’s suite of programs. You may have picked up on the opportunity to pull the plug, but I do wonder what you imagined the gender of the professor might be?
On behalf of all of us at the NYSF, I wholeheartedly wish you a safe, enjoyable festive season.