Morning Tea for National Youth Science Forum Participants
Kaye and I are delighted to welcome Queensland’s National Youth Science Forum participants to Government House this morning. We congratulate you and your families on your selection for this unique and exciting program.
What an extraordinary experience those twelve days in Canberra will be! You will not only meet peers from all over Australia but you’ll meet and hear from some of Australia’s best scientists and engineers, you’ll visit the National Computational Infrastructure Centre at the Australian National University, you’ll participate in a live cross to the CERN Large Hadron Collider - and I believe you’ll even hear about Australia’s first body farm!
All of this is a very long way from the first National Science Summer School in nineteen eighty-four. That visionary project was developed through the Canberra Development Board with the support of just one Rotary District, and was organised by the staff of the then Canberra College of Advanced Education. Thirty-one years on, the program has been renamed the National Youth Science Forum, has twice the number of participants each year, and involves Rotary districts and clubs from all over Australia.
It’s a remarkable success story, but what has remained unchanged is the commitment to giving our nation’s future science professionals an exceptional and inspiring experience.
The Forum’s website includes some interesting reflections written by alumni of the program. For most of them, it was clearly a life-changing and eye-opening experience that motivated them to go on to challenging and successful careers. But most importantly, the experience gave them a clearer vision of the career they wanted to follow and produced a network of life-long friends, colleagues, and mentors.
For many of them, it also opened the door to personal and professional development and gave them an appreciation of the values that drive community service organisations such as Rotary.
It is that spirit of altruism, that community-minded perspective on the world, that I find most powerful about this program, and I thank the Rotary districts in Queensland for encouraging and supporting this. We are told over and over by people we respect that our nation lags in science education, and education in the traditionally hard sciences, like physics. That an exceptional service organisation Rotary, acknowledges this and is helping in this way, is superb.
I know that each student will return from this prospectively amazing experience changed.
I wish each of you a most fulfilling twelve days in residence in Canberra and every success in your future studies – and I look forward very much to seeing your names in a future list of Australian scientists who are creating an even more sustainable future for our nation and the world.