WHAT started as Millie Sarginson’s “incredible and burning” interest in science and maths has grown into an unshakeable dream to pursue astrophysics.
“Astronomy is a very broad field of science and ever since I was younger I’ve had this obsession with looking up and staring at space,” she said.
“I don’t think I’ve met anyone who hasn’t thought ‘I wonder what’s out there?’ – we all have an interest in one way or another.
“We have a lot of assumed knowledge about lots of fields of science – chemistry, physics and biology – but we don’t know much about astronomy. I want to go and explore and be able to share that.”
The Lake Macquarie High year 12 student, 17, will take one step closer to her dream this month when she joins another 599 students in the National Youth Science Forum Year 12 Program, a 12-day residential course designed to give students a broader understanding of study and career options in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Millie will live at Australian National University in Canberra from January 16 to 27 and visit science and technology-related laboratories and facilities, go on site tours, listen to lectures, take part in workshops, attend social events, and participate in group activities to build communication and presentation skills.
“I’ve wanted to attend ANU for a long time now – the Vice Chancellor [Professor Brian P. Schmidt] is an astrophysicist and won a Nobel Prize,” she said.
“This allows me to see what studying astrophysics will be like in a university setting, as well as speak to people who are studying it now, which is an opportunity I’m not going to get anywhere else.
“I’ll also be able to meet like-minded people my age. I’d never heard anyone else talk about studying astrophysics – I’m the only student in my chemistry class and one of only three in my physics class – but already I know some other participants who want to pursue it as a career or list it as one of their interests.”
Millie took singing and piano lessons for 10 years but stopped in 2017 to receive tutoring for maths and science. "I wanted to get the most out of the short time I have left at school – and it’s a lot of fun.”