The Young Scientist competition run by the Science Teacher Association of NSW is about as serious as it gets. Multiple judging rounds against strict and clear criteria lead to impressive results – evidenced last year by one of the local winners going on to win the grand prize of US$75,000 at the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in the USA, and another previous local winner is 2018’s NSW Young Australian of the Year. The local competition is no slouch these days either on the prize front with the winner of the Young Scientist of the Year prize walking away with A$2,000 and an all expenses paid trip to next year’s ISEF.
This year’s crop of young scientist award winners were announced during the week. The coordinator of the Young Scientist awards, Anjali Rao, praised the work the students and said the “outstanding quality of work and broad scope covers all areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The future looks bright for these next superstars of STEM.”
The highly commended and prize-winning projects investigated relevant issues, designed unique solutions and conducted experiments for a broad range of topics including water quality, environmental sustainability, plastics, batteries and space travel.
“These students display strong inquisitive minds to complete designs and solutions well advanced their years, even comparable to a university level. One highlight is Callum Predavec of Mosman High School who developed a program to calculate and visualise trajectories for transfers between planets. The program offers a way to accurately model the motions of objects in real time and visually manipulate by zooming in and rotating.”
Australia’s Local Hero, Eddie Woo, said it was inspiring to see the “calibre of the kids, some of them are five or six years old. There is an innovation that you can only have from a young mind that has not been taught what it right or wrong but is willing to think outside the box.”
Awards like these are an important part of encouraging students to focus on science, and an essential part of rewarding their efforts. As we try to move students away from rote-learning and towards problem-solving it’s crucial that they have focal-points like the Young Scientist Awards to inspire them and keep them motivated. The fact that Australia is producing such amazing projects from a wide crop of awesome young scientists is inspiring.
Sadly the Awards just lost their major sponsor (after the company was acquired and decided on a new direction) which will present them with a serious issue in 2019. So, if you know of an organisation keen to support STEM in schools get them in touch with the Young Scientist Awards team.
The full list of 2018 Awards winners is here.
Now I must admit to a conflict here. The alert amongst my readers might notice that Geek in Sydney’s spawn is spread throughout the 2018 prizes including taking out the overall Young Scientist Award this year with his Planetary Transfer project. But in spite of my spawn’s success, I have written about and praised the Young Scientist competition for many years – and then, as now, encourage all STEM students to get involved.