2023 International Student Science Conference: Nevada Guiance and Amelie Van Der Werf

INSPIRED: Year 10 students Nevada Guiance and Amelie Van Der Werf (on left) say the trip sparked an interest in renewable energy and engineering and showed that science is a very fulfilling and fun career.

PLC Armidale students held their own at the recent International Student Science Conference(ISSC) held for the first time in New South Wales, hosted by our sister school, PLC Sydney. 

Founded in 2005 with an initial six member schools, the ISSC seeks “to bring together students from around the world in a shared science and cultural experience”. 

Eight of our high-performing Stage 5 Science students were selected to join students from Germany, India, Italy, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the oldest all-boys school in Tasmania, The Hutchins School, to explore the theme Bright Minds Shine a Light during the course of five days,

Together the group attended some amazing workshops with leaders working at the forefront of modern science and presentations from fellow students on a vast array of topics.

We asked each of our representatives to tell us about one day of the tour and their highlights.

Year 10 students Amelie Van Der Werf and Nevada Guiance gave us an overview of Tuesday.

Amelie said the renewable energy workshop she attended sparked something she would like to pursue in the future when she studies science and engineering at university, while Nevada said her key takeaway was that scientific research is very broad, and definitely a very fulfilling and fun career that solves issues with exciting new possibilities.

“Science is magic that works.”

Nevada Guiance

On Tuesday morning, the UNSW’s Renewable Energy team spoke about new materials and technological/engineering possibilities for the future. 

“We started the day off with a presentation from Associate Professor Ziv Hameiri, who works at the University of New South Wales,” said Amelie.

“Currently, he is leading a research group, the ACDC, whose mission is to ‘save the planet by pushing photovoltaic technologies to their ultimate potential. “

The students then had their own opportunity to build solar-powered model cars and race them as teams against other students. 

“We raced the cars on the tennis courts, although none of the PLC Armidale groups were the overall winners,” said Amelie. “We did win a couple of rounds, and it was interesting to see the winning design of the Doon School from India.”

The group then heard from schools about their recent scientific investigations, including an Italian school from Venice and a German school from Wolfenbüttel, as well as an amazing presentation fromour own Year 10 student Nevada Guiance about the composition and Toxicology of E-cigarettes using ICP-OES.

“In the afternoon, we heard student presentations from the Italian school Liceo Marco Foscarini and the German school Gymnasium im Schloss” said Amelie.

“The Italian school spoke to us about Galileo, light and Murano Glass which was very interesting,” said Nevada.

“The German school spoke to us about vertical farming, a new possibility of agriculture that could be more efficient.”

Later in the afternoon, the students learnt about saving critically endangered Australian animals using genomics’ with Dr Carolyn Hogg.

“Some scientists studying genomics of various native animals then spoke to us about their research and we used some software to investigate the genomes of some different marsupials,” Nevada said.

After a walk around PLC Sydney in Croydon the girls had dinner.

“Our final activity for the day was bush dancing which was very enjoyable,” said Amelie.

“My first expression of the day was that I was very excited about learning about solar and renewable energy.  I was also looking forward to the presentations because I really enjoyed the previous day’s ones, and I knew Tuesdays could be even better.

“I would say my key takeaway from Tuesday was the renewable energy workshop because it sparked an interest in me and is something I might consider being in the future.

“Overall, the trip was an incredible experience for me. I got to meet and share ideas with students from across the world as well as learn and be inspired about different areas of science. My favourite part would’ve been listening to all the student presentations because they all explored very interesting topics, and I got new ideas from them. The whole conference was an amazing event that I will remember for the rest of my life, and I am so grateful that I got to be a part of it.

“When I leave PLC Armidale, I would like to go to university and most likely study an area of science or engineering. The trip has inspired and shown me that there are many different areas of science where any branch of science can be used to improve the world. It has also sparked an interest for me in renewable energy and engineering.”

Nevada said her first impression was that it would be a day of learning about the future and the exciting research being conducted to create new solutions to current problems.

“My key takeaway was that scientific research is very broad, and definitely a very fulfilling and fun career that solves issues with exciting new possibilities,” she said.

“This trip definitely inspired my ambitions as it was an experience that broadened my horizons and gave me insight into current, interesting research and ideas for future experiments.

“Science is magic that works, and it is how we can learn to understand our world and utilise our knowledge to create new solutions; my favourite part was visiting USYD and learning about the ground-breaking research there, and also being extremely close to the tigers at the zoo was pretty incredible.

“When I leave PLC Armidale, I want to study Science at USYD with a view to a career in scientific research.”