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Published 19 September 2023

London International Youth Science Forum inspires future in STEM

Kaita Jibiki from Tawa College, Wellington, was one of three students Royal Society Te Apārangi supported to attend the London International Youth Science Forum – a summer residential school that connects the world’s brightest rangatahi with Nobel Prize winners, and top UK universities.

Kaita says the trip has drastically changed the way he looks at his future career.

 “It’s never been more apparent that the world of STEM has endless career paths. It’s made it harder for me to choose what I want to do.”

Kaita says he was swayed by a specialist lecture on stem-cell engineering and 3D-printed organs, so much so that he is considering studying it when he leaves college.

“I was even more convinced that I would love to study in this area when a professor showed us a picture of a plant leaf he had injected with beating cardiac cells – essentially giving the cells a structure to grow off.”

He says that visiting and learning about the nuclear fusion TOKAMAK reactor at Oxford University was the most interesting part of the trip.

Kaita explains that the reactor is the hottest place in our solar system: “When turned on, it heats up to a temperature of 150 million degrees; that's roughly 10 times hotter than our sun.”

He says it is mind-blowing that humans have built machines complex enough to harness such great force. 

Kaita says that the trip reassured him that the future of STEM is in good hands.

“During the science presentation night specifically, every single one of the students' projects blew me away.

“From using cumin to help slow down Alzheimer's development, to a student who had built their very own paraglider, we saw it all. It’s inspiring to see such a high level of thinking from many who are still in high school. It makes me so excited to think about what we will achieve in the future.”

He says that forums like these are so important because they help students recognise the global platform that science has.

“It’s so easy to think that science is all lab work and calculations, but it is more than that, it’s interconnected with people and the way we interact.”

Kaita adds that science is all about bettering the world, and there’s no greater way to show our future scientists that than by bringing them together to share work and learn. 

He says during the quiz night, his team was able to solve a chemistry question using scientific notation and Lewis diagrams, despite language barriers.

“It’s amazing how universal science is, it's a language of unity and I think forums like this help foster this collaboration so much.”

Source: Royal Society Te Apārangi