James Gillespie was the speaker at the Rotary Club of Alexandra sharing his experiences as one of 181Students from all over Australia who had the privilege of being part of the 2017 Rotary National Youth Science (NYSF).  James was subjected to a rigorous selection process beginning with interviews by the Rotary Club of Alexandra and then by Rotary District 9790.  In his presentation James highlighted the privilege it was to be selected on merit to attend the NYSF and how the assistance of his teacher Catherine  Zerbie, his family and the Rotary Club of Alexandra was vital in the final selection process.  James said the impact of this support really hit home as the 181 participants gathered for the first time at Emmanuel College of the University of Queensland.  It turned out that about 90 of the awardees came from Victoria.  To assist with the week long forum the main group was broken up into groups of interest and then were given a program to explore these interests plus a few other areas of science.  James found himself in a group that were allocated the Technical Institute and the Brain research group.  The technical institute  focused on robotics and James said the things that were on ABC TV Catalyst  this week he saw first hand.  Robots that can physically weed a row crop or selectively spray plants the it had been trained to recognise as weeds or conduct soil and pasture analysis. Jame’s group had the opportunity to program a robotic arm.  What looks so simple and natural is not so when you actually have to write every command to make things happen.  The programming language used is very simple to use, the complexity comes when all parts (and there are quite a few) of the robotic arm must work together.  Not only did this prove to be great fun, the conversations with his peers and the scientists (who were ever present to help and guide the NYSF awardees) was invaluable especially as ideas sparked new levels of thinking and processes and the ever present questions of “Why is it so” and “How do we make that happen” or just simply why?   Jame’s group were introduced to  Brain Research.  As MRI scans open up windows into the workings of the brain and the body it unlocks pathways to treating many conditions  including dementia.  The fascinating ways that research is providing ways of treating spinal cord injuries and how the damaged spinal cord can, in some instances be repaired using “T” cells.  Jame’s presentation concluded with the fact that Australia is the home of so much ground breaking research dealing with vital issues like dementia that impact on so many people.  The NYSF program proved to be a real adventure in science and created many new friendships and associations that will be so important as he makes his next life choices.  James  said NYSF is an outstanding program and thanked Rotary and the wider community for the support required to sustain it.   Rotarian Bruce Hyatt, chairman for the evening,  thanked James for his presentation and complemented him on his ability to be chosen for the NYSF 2017 program.  Bruce also said it was a privilege to have young people like James in our community combined with a Secondary College that has a record of excellence in developing the students who choose to apply for NYSF and other Rotary programs.