While presenting the NSW Young Scientist (Models and Innovations) Awards at the University of Sydney at the weekend Dr Karl Kruszelnicki made a telling point. Dr Karl pointed to the dissonance between a government seemingly fixated on digging stuff out of the ground and the depth of innovation shown by the students on display.
Many of the entrants in the record-breaking field were focused on environmental or social good. From saving houses from bush fires to creating power while making clean drinking water, from maglev trains to saving people from rips. The range of thinking on display was wonderful to behold – and this was from all age-groups from Kindergarten through to Year 12. And if you want the definition of geeky-cute, you should have seen the very serious Kindy girl showing off her invention.
It’s great that the Young Scientist Awards are seeing more and more entrants each year, and also great that Young ICT Explorers is proving a feeder competition for the younger ages. Young Scientist is particularly important because it serves as the only regional feeder into the national BHP National Science & Engineering Awards and the International Science and Engineering Fair.
Young Scientist is a fabulous initiative of the Science Teachers Association of NSW and the Institute of Industrial Arts Technology Education and, as a result, has a judging rubric that is heavily focused on the documentation and steps leading to the end-product as on the innovation itself. Many of the senior entries are HSC projects. That makes the competition an interesting contrast to Young ICT Explorers or the iAwards which look more at the innovation itself and the pitch.
Congratulations to all the finalists and the winners. Congratulations to the teachers who make it all happen. And congratulations to us as a country where we can look at more than just digging stuff out of the ground.