Shivani Shah experienced chemistry of all kinds when she attended the National Youth Science Forum with 144 like-minded souls.
The year 12 student at Castle Hill High School was sponsored by The Hills-Kellyville Rotary Club to attend a two-week session of the forum in Canberra in January, designed to give participants a taste of possible careers in science.
Shivani said six lab visits were part of her program and she visited such organisations as the Australian National University's chemistry and physics research departments, NSW-based DPI Soil Chemistry and the CSIRO's plant and ecosystem division.
"We learnt how to manipulate cotton growth," she said.
"They use a silencing gene and implement that in baby cotton so as the cotton grows they see what gene affects what area of the plant. The aim is to get more yield. The whole thing was an amazing experience."
The camp also included formal dinners with science guest speakers and a mock job interview based on an ad. "I put cancer-cell biochemist on my job application. We had Rotary members from Canberra and industry specialists take the interview. The feedback was really helpful."
Shivani admits she didn’t always have such a keen interest in science.
She now plans to complete a degree in biomedical science and specialise in genetics or immunology.
‘‘I was always curious as to why things happen [but] I didn’t realise that it was considered science.
‘‘When we had to select subjects for year 11 I became so interested in biology and chemistry.
‘‘There were so many things they could be used for and when I picked those subjects I fell in love with them.’’