Great Lakes College Senior Campus student Ella Stephens enjoyed a rare glimpse into the world of front-line science recently.
The Year 12 student was one of just 10 science extension students from around the State chosen to attend a special three-day showcase at the Australian Academy of Science in Canberra.
Entitled 'Science at the Shine Dome' and supported by 3M, the initiative exposed the students and their teachers to some of Australia's leading scientists and their research in an effort to inspire the next generation of scientific thinkers.
"It was pretty amazing," Ella said.
"It was really interesting to talk to the different fellows and researchers and also to meet the other kids and see where they were at with their research projects."
Ella attended a number of informative presentations over the course of the event, including a symposium on research into sustainable energy, the admission of new fellows into the academy, a national awards presentation, and a networking gala dinner with industry and political representatives.
And the highlight?
Meeting astronaut Andy Thomas, who was the first Australian to fly into space with NASA.
Former Great Lakes College science teacher Gillian Cortice accompanied Ella to Canberra and said it was a great experience for all the students.
"It opened their eyes to how science conferences work and how scientists talk to each other," she said.
"Particularly for country students like Ella, it was a big eye-opener."
Ms Cortice admitted even for someone like herself, who has worked as an academic and a biological scientist in the past, the event was highly rewarding.
"It was a great way to hear about what was happening at the forefront of Australian science," she said.
She praised Ella for representing her school and the Great Lakes so well, describing her as a mature, motivated and clear-thinking young woman.
Great Lakes College Senior Campus principal Brad Germon echoed this sentiment.
"Her work on research into genetic technology and the role of Prion proteins in the development of disease is fascinating," he said.
"We are extremely proud of Ella's achievements, given she was only one of 10 students in NSW to be accepted into this program, and it highlights that Great Lakes College provides a world class, local education."
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Ella said she had been interested in science since primary school.
"I like that everything is connected and you can figure things out in all sorts of ways," she said.
She plans to study a Bachelor of Biomedical Science at the University of Newcastle once she finishes Year 12, with the intention of continuing her research into proteins.
From there the sky's the limit, but she's certain her path lies in scientific research.
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