A summer of Science for bright students

Posted 8th February 2015

Cramming a year’s worth of university Physics into a fortnight, first hand inspections at some of the leading laboratories in the State, and interviewing a former Nobel Prize winner – such was the experience of four students from The Armidale School who spent part of their holidays at three Science camps.

Thomas Mailler spent a week at the Honeywell Engineering Summer School (HESS) in Sydney, Ali Ahsan was one of only 25 students invited to attend the Australian Science Olympiad Summer School in Physics at Australian National University, while at the same institution a week later, Harry Wright and Felix Gifford attended the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF).

Thomas said he learnt a lot about the specialties of different engineering faculties at major universities, visited Bluescope Steel at Port Kembla and ANSTO’s Lucas Heights nuclear facility, and took part in different practical activities.

Ali Ahsan and his peers (all from major cities) spent 11 intensive hours each day at lectures, tutorials and in laboratories, completing a year’s university work.

“There were heaps of really smart people. We had our experiments critiqued all the time which was sometimes pretty tough, but I also got to meet astrophysicist Brian Schmidt, a joint winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics,” Ali said.

At the National Youth Science Forum, Felix Gifford and Harry Wright were given an insight into the leading research into fibre optics, learnt more about quantum physics, discussed the role of Aboriginal culture in understanding Science, and toured the facilities at the Australian Defence Force Academy and aerospace, defence, security and advanced technology company Lockheed Martin.  A simulated Senate inquiry at Parliament House was also on the agenda.

“In fact it made me less certain about what area I wanted to study at university because it opened up so much,” Felix said.

It wasn’t all work and no play, and mixing with other school students from across the nation were also part of the offering.

“We had a go at swing dancing which was a lot of fun,” Harry said.

The Honeywell Engineering Summer School and NYSF are both projects supported by Rotary, with local clubs sponsoring Tom, Felix and Harry.