Pianika Ormsby can't help but smile when she talks about science.
Now, her infectious grin is proving to be the beginning of a promising career in the field she is so passionate about.
The 17-year-old is one of six students to be selected by the Royal Society Te Apārangi to attend the prestigious London International Youth Science Forum (LIYSF).
The Year 13 Tauranga Girls' College student hoped to study dentistry at Otago University after graduating school. But she was keeping her options open and learning "everything science".
"I have always been a smiley girl and thought I may as well be a dentist," Pianika says.
"As I got older I liked science and science was cool to me."
Pianika will travel to London on July 23 for the annual two-week event which attracted 500 of the world's leading young scientists aged 16 to 21 from more than 75 participating countries.
"Meeting scientists from around the world is what I am looking forward to the most," Pianika said. "Making connections and seeing how they learn."
The science forum will cover a broad range of subjects across Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields and students will be able to tailor their programme to suit their own interests.
Pianika chose to focus on cell science.
"I find it fascinating how the body works. We are made up of all these different cells and it is just like 'wow'," she said. "How we function and how we are made is pretty cool."
The teenager applied for the scholarship last year but was unsuccessful after sending in a late entry.
This year, her application was accepted with 85 per cent of her trip covered by the Royal Society. She also won a $1500 Acorn Foundation scholarship which she put toward the trip.
This will be the second science trip overseas for Pianika, who travelled to America as a Year 10 student.
"Because we were so young, all the stuff that we saw we were like, 'Wow there is all this stuff out there in the world for us to grab hold of'," Ormsby said.
"I felt out of place kind of, there was so much for me to learn - and so much for so many kids to learn."
Pianika has taken all science subjects at school from Year 11 to now.
"It is quite cool to get introduced to it [science] young. You learn more," she said.
But in a classroom, Pianika was bound by the books and learned what the teacher taught. She knew there was more to learn beyond the classroom.
"In class you have a set amount to learn, so you don't see everything that is out there until you're older and more specialised," she said.
"I have no idea what else I could like in the future."
WHAT IS THE LONDON INTERNATIONAL YOUTH SCIENCE FORUM?
- A two-week residential event at Imperial College London.
- It includes lectures and demonstrations from leading scientists, visits to industrial sites, research centres, scientific institutions and organisations, including world class laboratories and universities.
- LIYSF attracts 500 of the world's leading young scientists aged 16-21 from more than 75 participating countries.
- There is an active social calendar with events designed to enable those from around the world to learn about different cultures.
- The scope of LIYSF extends further than broadening scientific understanding to engage students in education on other cultures and develop lasting, international friendships.
- Founded in 1959, LIYSF aims to give a deeper insight into science and its applications for the benefit of all mankind and to develop a greater understanding between young people of all nations.