Even though students are home for holidays, January at ANU is not as quiet as one might think, as 430 young scientists descend upon the campus this week for the 2014 National Youth Science Forum (NYSF).
ANU is a major partner in this 12-day intensive course which will see students about to start Year 12 from across the country experience what studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics at university is like.
The program of laboratory visits, industrial site tours, debates, presentations and fun activities designed is specifically for the students, and run by past NYSF participants.
George Kettle, from Murwillumbah in northern New South Wales, attended the 2013 NYSF and is a volunteer staff member at the Perth NYSF this year.
"I cannot believe the opportunities that the NYSF has opened up for me. It opens up a new perspective on science and the people in science," says Kettle.
"To be a great scientist - or any other professional - you also have to be a well-rounded person. NYSF has influenced my study choices by opening up new areas in science - fields I didn't know existed. Because I love this diversity, I decided to study science further. The hard part is choosing where to go next."
Over its 30-year history, more than 9,000 students have taken part in the NYSF, with a majority moving into careers as researchers or research managers, as well as educators, and other professions where their scientific training supports their career.
"Given the Chief Scientist of Australia's recent call to increase the focus on science, technology and engineering, and maths (STEM) in education in Australia, the students who attend the NYSF are in a good position to ensure they will follow further education and a career working in STEM-related professions," says Damien Pearce, Director of NYSF.
"The lab visits and site tours are designed specifically for our students, and illustrate a range of pathways in the STEM fields. The interactions with the scientists they meet are key to the experience, and the generosity of many of the exchanges is often above what might be expected."
Simultaneous sessions are currently underway in Canberra and Perth, with a third session to be held in Canberra later in January. In Canberra, students will visit ANU, GeoScience Australia, the Department of Pathology at The Canberra Hospital, and the Tidbinbilla Deep Space Centre. In Perth, visits include HMAS Stirling, The University of Western Australia, Curtin University, and the Water Corporation of WA.