Blacktown students are excelling in science despite a national decline in high school participation.
Nominated by teachers from 22 schools in the region, 58 students were honoured on Tuesday afternoon with a Victor Chang School Science Award.
The Blacktown students represented a quarter of the 238 recipients across the state.
The award recognises dedication and outstanding achievements in the field of science, and gives the budding scientists the opportunity to visit the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute.
The institute is the legacy of the revolutionary Chinese-Australian heart surgeon, who pioneered heart transplantation and the artificial heart valve.
Dr Chang was murdered during a botched extortion attempt at the height of his career in 1991.
Speaking at the ceremony on Tuesday, biochemist Tara Christie encouraged all the recipients to pursue “the thrill of discovery”.
Dr Christie said the skills she learned in high school, including problem solving and complex reasoning, were part of her work at the Victor Chang Institute.
She also acknowledged the gender disparity within the scientific field, and said efforts were being made at every level to address the problem.
The Blacktown award winners were split evenly between male and female.
“Australia has such a proud science history, and through acknowledging these young students we’re giving the next generation of scientists the opportunity to see how research can directly touch people’s everyday lives,” Dr Christie said.
“As a scientist, not only are you contributing to building knowledge, but you are constantly solving problems and seizing opportunities while improving the wellbeing of society.”
Deputy mayor Tony Bleasdale said this was the 10th year Blacktown Council had supported the school science awards.
In recent years the number of local recipients has risen significantly, from 20 in 2014 to 60 last year.
Cr Bleasdale said it was heart-warming to see Blacktown students embracing science despite a national decline.
“You are setting the foundation to be the next generation of Australian researchers,” he said.
“You are continuing in the legacy of one of Australia’s greatest scientific minds and greatest doctors.”