Maddy Thompson’s world changed in January when she explored cutting edge laboratories and met Nobel Prize-winning scientists.
Along with her Inverell High classmate Emily McIntyre, Maddy visited the National Youth Science Forum (NYSF) in Canberra, a program designed to show year 12 students the diverse study and career options available in science, technology, engineering and mathematics after high school.
“It was just so life-changing and it sort of revolutionised my whole mindset towards science and school and my future,” she said.
In July her world will grow even more as one of 20 young Australians selected to visit London with NYSF.
“It’ll just be amazing, I can’t wait,” she said.
Hosted by Imperial College in South Kensington, Maddy will spend two weeks attending lectures and exploring labs in London, before visiting France for a few days. She will finish with a visit to the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, in Geneva.
Maddy said she was most excited about meeting so many highly qualified scientists. It was making those connections and learning more about the many possible careers available in science that inspired Maddy most during her Canberra visit.
“I never had any idea of some occupations that exist and the way that they’re evolving as well as we develop our research, and the interdisciplinary fields, how they work together. I never could have picked that you could be an engineer and a journalist,” she said.
“It was amazing, the exposure to all of these amazing facilities and meeting so many people. I have connections all over Australia now and everyone was just so amazing and kind.”
She said meeting those at the top of their fields made science-based careers seem more possible. She felt the experience had “opened her eyes”, and was thrilled to make new friends with the same passion for science.
“There was 200 kids who I’d never met before, but we all had the same interests and we’d all been through the same sort of experiences. It was very uplifting to be in that environment,” she said.
Initially interested in “everything”, Maddy said the forum helped narrow down her options for the future. A visit to a neuroscience lab sparked an interest in a career as a neurosurgeon.
NYSF gave her more confidence, and after years expecting to follow her older siblings to Brisbane for university, she is now considering other opportunities in Canberra and Melbourne.
She is excited to explore more possibilities for her future as she prepares for London, before launching back in to her HSC year.