The International Science School (ISS)

ISS2015 Is Going To Be BIG

The International Science School runs every two years (in the odd-numbered years). The next program, ISS2015, will run from Sunday 28 June to Saturday 11 July 2015.

Applications for ISS2015 will open early in 2015 – so watch this space! Teachers, tell your students; and students, remind your teachers!

Get more information about the ISS program and the most recent event, ISS2013: Nanoscience.


What Is The ISS About?

The Professor Harry Messel International Science School ("ISS") is a visionary science programme created for academically gifted high school students. The two-week fully residential curriculum is sponsored by the School of Physics through the Physics Foundation, which was established in 1954 and is dedicated to the pursuit of academic excellence. The ISS has been held on the University of Sydney campus since its inception in 1962.

View the movie to learn more about the ISS!

Whilst providing a transformational experience for the 145 young scholars attending from around Australia and nine other countries worldwide, the ISS further addresses the ongoing shortage of top scholars and scientists internationally by tackling the three key issues facing many exceptional students, namely:

  1. a lack of rigorous instruction from teachers, peers, and curriculum;
  2. insufficient career mentoring, and advisement of opportunities and potential, especially within the sciences; and
  3. the absence of a significant network of comparable peers.

The ISS addresses these concerns by:

  • providing gifted high school students with university-level science lectures and discussions on contemporary topics led by pre-eminent professors and authorities in the field;
  • challenging students to consider their future career paths, particularly within the scientific arena, coupled with a true understanding of their abilities and potential through hard work, in whatever field they choose; and
  • connecting students to a diverse and considerable network of similarly gifted peers.

The fruition of our efforts is evidenced through:

  • ISS alumni, many of whom have gone on to distinguished and celebrated careers; and
  • consistent feedback from the academic community over the 50-year lifespan of the ISS on its impact on individuals' work ethic and career choice

The ISS program is offered every two years, and each participating student is fully sponsored. The realisation our vision requires the following three-pronged approach:

  1. Honouring excellence:
    Students attending the ISS are amongst the best and brightest from around the world. Their selection recognises the excellence and diligence they have demonstrated in their studies to date.
  2. Encouraging & inspiring their continued pursuit of excellence:
    • Each ISS brings together scholars from a range of cultures, giving them the opportunity to experience and learn from lectures and tutorials from a range of Australian and international lecturers, each leaders in their chosen fields of science.
    • Past lecturers include Nobel laureates and other prominent lecturers.
    • Past alumni recall, with great appreciation, how their ISS experiences helped to reassure them they were "not alone" in their brilliance and passion for science. They are in fact, members of a rigorous, intellectually curious community of thinkers, scientists, and activists. Their interaction with this network of international peers from different cultures and backgrounds over the two-week session has often been described as life-changing experience.
    • Coupled with the challenging lectures delivered by accomplished, renowned professors, students develop a greater understanding of the opportunities before them, provided they are prepared to work diligently, both as individuals and within talented teams of similarly inspired people.
    • Thomas Edison once said, "genius is 99% perspiration". It is this axiom that forms the basis of the ISS's approach to providing students with key challenges and experiences, which will help them to graduate to the next level of learning and achievement.
  3. Affirm the special responsibility scholars have to themselves and their communities, to develop their considerable intellectual gifts:
    Success is vital in establishing a sense of personal achievement and satisfaction. Even more important is its influence on the societies in which we live and work. Each ISS focuses on providing students with this broader view of what they capable of achieving, as epitomized by the successes of past scholars and current lecturers, as well as their invaluable contributions to their communities.

The ISS program also fosters international understanding through the interaction of the students with peers and lecturers from around the world. While the students who attend the ISS come from diverse backgrounds with diverse languages, they are still able to communicate with each other and foster life-long friendships through their mutual love of science and discovery.

While one of the main aims of the program is to challenge students to consider future career paths, particularly in the scientific arena, it is notable that many of our ISS scholars pursue careers outside of science. Some of our alumni include artists, lawyers, and stars of the business world who, through their continued love of science, do much to enhance a science-literate community.

International Science School Reports