Fraser Hemphill of Grafton High School is in Sydney for a science conference during the school holidays.
Fraser Hemphill of Grafton High School is in Sydney for a science conference during the school holidays.

Young scientist skips holidays

LIFE doesn’t get much better than this for 17-year-old Grafton High School student Fraser Hemphill.

Yesterday, the talented science student arrived in Sydney for day one of a five-day conference at the University of NSW in Sydney, where he will join more than 50 other leading young scientists from Australia and New Zealand.

They are taking part in the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science (ANZAAS) conference which began yesterday and will wrap up on Friday.

Not too many kids would be willing to swap their school holidays, which begin this week, for six days of lectures, workshops and demonstrations, but for science-obsessed Fraser the opportunity is not one to be missed – as he knows only too well.

Last year, the precocious student, whose first loves are physics and chemistry, attended the conference while only a junior school student in Year 10.

“Normally only Year 11 students are selected for the conference,” Fraser said.

“It’s really good and pretty hard to get into. I had to write a 500-word essay on photo-voltaic cells.

“I also had to have a reference from my science teacher at school.”

Fraser is also a member of a group called the Young Scientists of Australia, who also supported his invitation to the ANZAAS event.

In its promotional material ANZAAS describes the conference as an ‘annual conference to give students a broad perspective on the aims and practice of scientific endeavour ranging from satisfying curiosity and the drive to discover to the application of science in the real world’.

During the conference delegates take the chance to visit world-class facilities usually unavailable to the general public and to meet leading scientists and look at the research they are doing.

The itinerary includes attendance at the Conference of the Science Teachers of Australia today plus lectures by eminent scientists.

They will also visit the Centre for Forensic Science at the University of Technology.

Later in the week they will use the telescope at UNSW and the portable planetarium, visit the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor and the Sydney Institute of Marine Science at Chowder Bay.

The group will also visit a beach to observe (and hopefully experience) the physics of the surf.

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