The Rotary Club of Pinjarra was delighted to welcome Miss Indi McClements to speak to members following her return from attending the January 2020 National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) event held in Brisbane.
The Club sponsored Indi's nomination to attend the event, and following a selection process, she was advised that she would be participating in the event last November.

Rotary clubs around Australia continue to play a key role in supporting the NYSF to deliver its mission, by conducting selections for the NYSF Year 12 Program. As a first step, students can elect to approach Rotary clubs in their area to ask the club to endorse their application to attend the NYSF Year 12 Program. Endorsement does not mean the club is required to fund all or any part of the student’s attendance at the Program. (However, often clubs can help and the club does make it clear to the student at this stage whether the club will provide no, some, or all financial support if the student is successful in being selected to attend). The 2020 program was to occur in January 2020, holding a number of sessions in different locations.

However, on 6th January, some participants were advised that The National Youth Science Forum organisers had made the difficult decision to end Session A of the NYSF Year 12 Program (which was held in Canberra), and to return participants to their homes as soon as could be safely arranged.

Many parts of Australia were at the time being impacted by severe bushfires. As the health and wellbeing of participants and volunteers remains NYSF's first priority, the difficult decision was made to end Session A of the NYSF Year 12 Program and return participants to their homes as soon as could be safely arranged. A further decision was made to cancel the Canberra session of the National Science Teachers Summer School (NSTSS) that was to run at the same time, also in Canberra.

As Brisbane was not affected, Indi told the meeting how grateful and privileged that the session in which she was to participate was able to actually proceed.

Indi began her talk by thanking the Pinjarra Rotary Club for supporting her application which has enabled her to attend the National Youth Science Forum in Brisbane.The forum lasted 10 days, involving year 12 students, focusing on science, communication and leadership.
She observed that being placed into an environment where she "knew no-one" was initially intimidating, but as most of the Forum participants were open and friendly like-minded people, any negative feelings were quickly overcome. In fact, she has maintained contact with some new friends that she had made during the event.
During the opening address to the participants, it was strongly suggested that jobs of the future would be very different from current employment circumstances. Training and education in the relevant fields will be critical to open opportunities for anyone to participate in, and to advance in the work-force of the future.
The Forum highlighted many aspects of "STEM"; which is a learning curriculum based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines — Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics — in an interdisciplinary and applied approach. Various lectures and workshop sessions focused on a broader interpretation of this approach.

For example, critical thinking skills fall into two layers; thought processes which are instinctive leading to natural conclusions, or those processes where problems require deeper thinking that lead to solutions that are innovative and engender new ideas.

Indi particularly enjoyed a lecture by Professor Eleanor Bell from the Australian Antarctic Division. Australia is the largest land-holder in the Antarctic conservation area with responsibility for 43% of the continent. The lecture covered some aspects of conservation and Indi spoke about the analysis of ice core samples. The data learned from the analysis of (for example) carbon dioxode levels in the past, is used to project and model atmospheric and environmental conditions into the future.

Other sessions provided information about the effect diminishing (albiet now increasing) whale populations have had on the Krill population, and the inter-dependance between the two. Baleen whales eat a lot of krill. And because krill are found in swarms, this allows whales to consume large quantities to sustain them. It has been estimated that one adult blue whale can eat up to 4 million krill — that’s more than 3 tonnes! — in just one day. That’s a lot of krill!  Research is now occurring that attempts to understand the various factors- from the amount of krill available, to the numbers in the whale population - affecting a sustainable whale recovery into the future.

How the use of drones by the military was discussed. The tasks that drones perform vary from surveilance to attack roles. Drones vary in size from ultra small craft to those which needing a runway for takeoff. Practical civilian applications are now being found for the military drones. For example, drones with thermal vision capabilities are utilised for monitoring bushfires.

A fascinating lecture on human taste revealed the existance of the large variety and number of taste receptors we humans have on our tongues. The level of sensitivity the receptors have give us the ability to distinguish flavours; particularly to distinguish and identify bitter, possibly poisonous material that we put into our mouths. This range of sentitivity varies from person to person but the ability to do so is inherent in all.

Indi prefers mathematics, chemistry and physics and told the meeting of her ambition to work in the field of medical research.

After answering a number of questions from the audience, Rotarian Geoff McLarty thanked Indi her for the overview of the Forum, and complimented her for the clear well-prepared talk that she made this evening. The meeting thanked Indi with applause, and she was presented with a Rotary Coffee mug as a momento of the occasion.