During the school holiday period, Year 12 student Jessie attended the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF). The NYSF is a not-for-profit organisation that runs several residential programs to encourage young people in their passion for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Their programs show the wide variety of engaging, rewarding and inspiring study and career options available in STEM fields.

Jessie attended the NYSF flagship Year 12 Program, a 10-day program designed to give students a broader understanding of STEM’s diverse study and career options.

Jessie is the first student in 11 years to attend the forum after her successful application process. 

We caught up with Jessie to learn more about her experience at the 2023 forum. Here is what she had to say:

What motivated you to apply to this year’s National Youth Science Forum? 

I was motivated to apply for this year’s National Youth Science Forum because I had heard through friends that it was an amazing experience where you would be able to meet with many industries in the STEM sector and gain exposure to career pathways I might be interested in the future.

What were some of the most memorable moments?

Some of the most memorable moments were hanging out with new friends in the in-person hubs. I met so many people from all walks of life, with their unique experiences and points of view. 

In terms of memorable sessions, we had one on Space Ethics, where we debated our opinions on current topics such as “should countries be able to use kinetic weapons to destroy their satellites when they’re above their airspace?” and “how should we treat extraterrestrial planets and other life in the future?” This one resulted in a massive debate about whether humans deserved to be able to colonise a planet with aliens on it if it was to save humanity. There were a lot of passionate views on all sides of the argument. Learning how to respect and disagree with others’ points of view is a skill I will continue to develop now and in the future. It was also fascinating to go to Mt Stromlo and see all the work they are doing on dealing with space debris, and walking about the CSIRO labs where they were working on cotton mutations was so interesting! I even learnt they once tried to make cotton grow blue! Dr Karl’s talk on the four hopes of humanity was also enthralling. He told us that in just ten years, using just half of the global government mining subsidies, CO2 and greenhouse gases could be returned to what they were at the start of the 20th century, an interesting fact that provides a lot of hope for our future!

How did the NYSF further your interest in STEM?

NYSF furthered my interests in STEM by opening my eyes to a range of career paths I didn’t know existed. I had no idea that space ethics was a thing, and now I’m super interested in it. Similarly, I was curious to know what they did at CSIRO or Geoscience Australia. It was so fun and exciting to participate in the project’s scientists working there get to do every day! NYSF also helped confirm that doing something in the space industry is something I am very interested in, and I learnt there are more paths in this industry than I could have ever imagined!