Action stations for Science Week; whoops! – common Twitter mistakes; and see science at the cinema

Sex! Murder! Death! Now that I’ve got your attention, the Australian Academy of Science’s The Science of Life & Death public event series kicks off this month in Hobart. It’s a great example of scientific panel discussions with mainstream appeal. More below.

It’s two months until National Science Week, 13 – 21 August, which means it’s action stations for all involved.

If you’re well underway with planning an event, make sure you register it to maximise its impact. Or, if you’re considering an event and need some inspiration, have a look at the highlights we’ve already noted and the state-by-state round up of interesting festivals and events.

In addition to Steve ‘Woz’ Wozniak coming to Australia for Science Week, Brian Cox is also touring the country in a series of live events. Plus we will see him on TV, with ABC premiering his new series Forces of Nature.

ABC is also planning a major focus on science across all of its platforms, so reporters, producers and writers will be on the lookout for interesting science stories – again, make sure you register your event as Science Week’s online event listing is where many go to find interesting science talent. More below.

In this bulletin, we include the second in a series of Tips for Twitter, this time looking at commonly made mistakes (and how to avoid them).

This weekend sees science on the big screen, with the SCINEMA International Science Film Festival happening at various locations around the country. You can also apply to host special screenings as National Science Week events. Read on for details.

And finally, Northern Territory’s Inspiring Australia manager Paul Lyons tells us how he went from comic book entrepreneur to science communicator.

Kind regards,
Tanya Ha, Associate, Science in Public
On behalf of

In this newsletter:

National Science Week 2016: are you in?

Last year, 1.3 million people participated in over 1,500 activities during National Science Week.

So how will you use Science Week to celebrate your science this year? It’s from 13-21 August.

Science Week is an ideal time to take your science out into the community. It gives Australians opportunities to meet scientists, do science, discuss the hot topics and celebrate its contribution to society and the economy.

This year’s big events include:

  • Apple co-founder and innovator Steve Wozniak
  • BBC presenter and rock star of astrophysics Brian Cox
  • biohacking with Ellen Jorgensen
  • a huge National Innovation Summit in Sydney
  • over a thousand science events
  • Wildlife Spotter – the national experiment inviting ordinary Australians to do real science, identifying animals from over a million images from automated cameras
  • a tech-savvy schools theme of ‘Drones, Droids and Robots
  • and hundreds of activities in schools around the country.

The secret of Science Week is strength in numbers: local events and stories together build the buzz that becomes a national shout.

Now is the time to register any events you’re planning, whether it be a simple science-themed ‘Brain Break’ morning tea in your workplace or a mega-celebrity science public event. Registering is important – both for building the buzz and getting bums on seats!

Register any events you’re holding on the National Science Week website. And read our tips for writing a great event description.

Science in Public are providing communication and media support to the National Science Week team in Canberra, providing a framework and building the national buzz so that event organisers—big and small—can get better results from their own promotional efforts. We will also  brief media outlets with tasty story leads.If you have an event or topic you think might have strong media potential, let us know and we’ll consider including it in the national media releases and briefings.

Email us at

You can also stay in the loop by signing up for the dedicated National Science Week newsletter.

A state-by-state sample of coming Science Week attractions is included at the end of this newsletter.

Talking life, death, sex and murder with Bernie Hobbs and scientists

‘The Science of Life & Death’ speaker series

One Australian is born every 1.45 minutes, while one dies every 3.25 minutes. We’re good at talking about the beginnings of life, but pretty awkward when it comes to facing the end.

While modern society embraces and celebrates new life and various milestones, the topic of death has become taboo. This series of special events explores life, and looks at how death affects us from the moment we start living: how we come into existence (and how this could change in the future), how we prevent and create life, prolong the inevitable, and find unconventional ways to die. The Science of Life & Death will push us to the edge of our comfort levels, starting a national conversation about life, death and beyond.

Hosted by teacher and medical researcher turned legendary science broadcaster Bernie Hobbs, the series kicks off in Hobart this month. Bernie will talk about Death with hospital emergency expert David Caldicott, forensic pathologist Roger Byard, and forensic scientist Shari Forbes.

Details of the Perth and Adelaide events will be available closer to their dates.

This national series is an initiative of the Australian Academy of Science, supported by Inspiring Australia.

Read more at the Australian Academy of Science website

Inspiring our children into science

From Inspiring the ACT

“We need to make parents aware of how the world is changing and what this will mean for our children. The opportunities are fantastic, but we need to move NOW to take advantage of them.”

This was the impassioned plea in an open letter from Dr Victor Pantano, a panellist at the recent ‘Inspiring our children into STEM’ event held by CBR Innovation Network and Inspiring the ACT.

This event was designed to kick-start a discussion about the benefits of, and barriers to, children gaining science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills. It brought together the perspectives and questions of experts, parents and teachers alike.

Read the full story at the CBRIN website

Top tips for Twitter: common pitfalls

By @Ha_Tanya, Associate at Science in Public

Twitter is great for building your networks, sharing resources and stories, peer support and keeping your finger on the pulse of a particular field or topic. It’s also a potentially powerful tool for disseminating science.


Used without insight and discipline, it can consume a lot of time for little outcome. And, occasionally, social media can get you into trouble!

Here is Part 2 of our series of stories with practical tips for Twitter, this time focusing on how to avoid the mistakes most commonly made and get the most out of your social media use.

Read Part 1 – Top tips for Twitter: getting started

  • Have a plan (and stick to it) – Just as there’s a difference between communication and strategic communication, there’s a difference between random, reflexive tweeting and a more deliberate approach. Understand why you’re on Twitter, who your intended audience is and what you hope to achieve, and have a plan to achieve this.
  • Don’t let Twitter eat too much of your work day (or lunch hour) – There’s a fine line between ‘social networking’ and ‘social NOT-working’. Twitter can be a huge time waster if not well managed. Plan how you can efficiently use Twitter, allocate time for it and stick to your plan.
  • Don’t start with a handle – If you start a tweet with a Twitter user’s handle – for example, @ChemFreeBear – then Twitter’s clever algorithms will think you’re replying to @ChemFreeBear and that this is part of a conversation. The only people who will be able to see the tweet will be you, @ChemfreeBear and people who follow both of you. If you want your tweet to be widely visible, put other text before the handle, even if it’s only a period (.).
  • Beware the auto post – Some social media platforms give you the option to automatically cross post the same text, picture and/or alert to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and/or Instagram all at once. You might think it’s efficient, but it can look lazy or confusing. For example, people who use only Facebook might be confused by the hashtags and other Twitter and Instagram shortcuts and jargon. Facebook posts, allowing for more text, might get cut off abruptly. And auto-alerts, such as “I just shared a new video on YouTube [link]” don’t give you the opportunity to put more meaningful information into the tweet content. It can give the appearance that you don’t care enough to tailor the message to the medium you’re using.
  • Don’t tweet too much… – Too many tweets, with little interesting content, is viewed as spam on the Twittersphere. Choose quality over quantity.
  • … or too little – However, a Twitter account with infrequent activity suggests a user that’s out-of-touch, less connected and of less value. You’re less likely to gain followers, and build an audience and influence.
  • Don’t tweet in the heat (of the moment) – One of the dangers of Twitter is that it’s immediate. Try not to tweet when you’re angry, or in retaliation to a perceived slight. With its 140 character limit, Twitter unfortunately lends itself to misunderstandings. Only tweet when you’re calm and rational to avoid tweeting something you might regret later.
  • Managing multiple accounts? Make sure you’ve got the right one – Make sure you don’t get your personal, organisational and/or client Twitter accounts mixed up, especially when using Twitter on a smartphone. For example, “Woohoo, Friday night! It’s time to PARTAY!!!” is probably not appropriate to tweet from a work or client account.
  • #Use #hashtags #in #moderation, #please –Tweets with nearly every word hashtagged are really hard to read. And irritating. However, hashtags are useful when used well. Just put key words with hashtags at the end of the tweet or, if you’re running short on characters, tag a single key word or two in the body of the tweet.
  • Don’t follow and un-follow to collect followers – Some people follow an account, knowing the user will receive an alert and hoping the user will follow them back. Don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t follow you back. They don’t have to. Repeated following and unfollowing someone to try to get them to follow you is the height of dagginess on Twitter.
  • Protect your privacy and security – Get familiar with the privacy settings on Twitter and, as per Facebook and the broader internet, don’t divulge personal or private information. You can also turn location services for Twitter off on mobile devices, so that your tweets aren’t geolocated.
  • Don’t feed the trolls – Because Twitter allows anonymity, it can provide an outlet for the worst of human nature. For whatever reason, people can get nasty on Twitter. It’s also a place where scientific debates can turn into pointless shouting matches. If you end up on the receiving end of abusive tweets, remember that you are not obliged to respond to them. You can also block that user. Useful articles:
  • Do get in and tweet – Despite the negative flavour of these tips, Twitter can be a lot of fun. Twitter is best learnt by experience. You’ll learn what works and what resonates with your audience by tweeting and reading other people’s tweets.

Good luck and happy tweeting!

SCINEMA International Science Film Festival is back

From Lisa Bailey, RiAus

SCINEMA International Science Film Festival is back in 2016, showcasing not only the best, but also the diversity of science films from across the globe.

From drama to documentaries, animations or epic natural history, Australia’s Science Channel is passionate about the power of the moving image to tell stories about the world, how it works, and our place in it.

Whether it’s the long slog and occasional thrill of discovery, the awesome scale of our universe, the beauty of nature, environmental challenges that we face on our planet, or how technology will shape our future, there are hundreds of science stories we want to see on screen.

In its new home at Australia’s Science Channel, the 2016 SCINEMA International Science Film Festival is shaping up to be bigger than ever.

“We’ve received over 1,300 entries from 80 countries around the world,” said Program Manager Lisa Bailey. “There’s an incredible range of stories and characters we can’t wait to share with Australian audiences.”

Tickets are just $10 to see the best in science film from around the world. Sydney screenings are presented with the support of host partner UNSW at the Ritchie Theatre in the Scientia building at UNSW Kensington Campus on Saturday 18 June.  Tickets are available for booking at

Festival details:
SCINEMA Festival events are on Saturday 18 June 2016
Venues for the national festival are:

Australian Capital Territory – Arc Cinema, The National Sound and Film Archive (NSFA)
1 McCoy Circuit, Acton
Saturday 18 June 2016, 4-7pm

New South Wales – Ritchie Theatre, Scientia Building
University of New South Wales Kensington Campus, Sydney
Saturday 18 June 2016, 4-7pm

Queensland – Cinema 2, Schonell Theatre, University of Queensland
Building 21 Complex, Union Rd, St Lucia
Saturday 18 June 2016, 6-9pm

South Australia – Allan Scott Theatre, University of South Australia
Ground Floor, 55 North Terrace, Adelaide
Saturday 18 June 2016, 4-7pm

Tasmania – IMAS Lecture Theatre, University of Tasmania
Salamanca Place, Hobart
Saturday 18 June 2016, 4-7pm

Victoria – RMIT Cinema, RMIT University
Building 80, Level 1, Room 2
445 Swanston Street, Melbourne
Saturday 18 June 2016, 4-7pm

Western Australia – Hill Lecture Theatre, Murdoch University
90 South Street, Murdoch
Saturday 18 June 2016, 4-7pm

Australia’s Science Channel presents SCINEMA International Science Film Festival supported by BBC Knowledge Australia and Hostworks.

In addition to the June screenings, there is also the option for community organisations to register their own venue tohost a SCINEMA screening during National Science Week (click here to register).  Registered venues will be sent a password to access a SCINEMA playlist through Australia’s Science Channel.

From comics to communicating science

Meet Paul Lyons, Inspiring Australia Manager, NT

From a large crocodile dissection in front of a live audience to Science@Sunset over a cool beer, it takes unique skill to engage a Territory-tough audience. That’s where Paul Lyons comes in. He’s Science Outreach Coordinator at Charles Darwin University and Inspiring Australia Manager for the Northern Territory.

We asked him to share some of his thoughts and experience:

What is your background?
I completed a Bachelor of Applied Science in Biology and a Dip Ed in Maths and Science, last century. Then I spent a number of years teaching across a range of schools and locations from Perth, Alice Springs, NorthERN Queensland, a remote village in Namibia, and also a community in the Kimberley. After that I became the manager of the CSIRO Education Centre in Darwin for sixyears before moving across to Charles Darwin University in 2015.

What was your first job?
My first ‘employment’ was when a colleague and I started a rental comic business in grade five. When it came to ‘free reading time’, we had a cohort of students that weren’t very keen on in-depth novels; but we were allowed to read comics. We therefore collected as many comics as we could and then loaned them out through a booking system; late returns incurred a fee and we used those fees to purchase more comics. Basically we were a not-for-profit business. After a while though, the class realised we had no official power/authority to reclaim late return fees and the business fell over.

Later, I progressed to a paper round, and because I was delivering papers in a hilly area, the work was ‘sub-contracted’ out to others to do designated areas. The pay from the newspapers was then used to buy everyone a lunch of fish and chips – which ended up costing more than the paper round. It didn’t last for long.

What Inspiring Australia initiatives are happening in your area?
One of the key drivers for IA in the Territory is to create as many opportunities as possible to link local scientists with the wider community, in particular seeing science as a knowledge tool to local business. One avenue with this is the Science@Sunset talk series, which more recently has been getting audience numbers between 70 and 110. The growth of this has led to collaboration in a range of other activities, and further collaborations with local scientists.

We have also started up a robotics program for school students that will lead to the first RoboCup competition in the NT and linking to IT industries in the NT. They already connect to code fairs through undergraduate courses at the University

What are the science strengths of your state/territory?
The NT has a diverse environmental and cultural history. This provides a foundation for unique research opportunities and applications. This therefore provides a highly recognised and abundant production of environmental research for desert and savannah country, and world-renowned research in health, especially indigenous health and global tropical health.

Tell us about your favourite science-related TV show or movie
Growing up I always loved watching Doctor Who, but I am not sure if it was the whole Goodies, then Doctor Who, then dinner is ready (Doctor Who used to be on in the late afternoons). Then I progressed to B grade Sci-Fi ‘Creature feature’ Friday nights with a lot of genetic mutations, alien life forms and evil scientists – here I learnt that science gives knowledge, which is power! Later, I progressed to some of my favourites, such as Gattaca, and more recently The Martian – great seeing the application of scientific knowledge and how it is applied to finding solutions.

What are you currently reading?
Though my previous answer may show that I tend to watch rather than read, my most recent book was ‘The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared’, a wonderful adventure that I would highly recommend. At the same time I also bought ‘A Brief History of Seven Killings’ but I haven’t got into it yet; it may go on my pile of books to one day read.

More often though, I tend to read science and sports magazines. I have moved on from comics.

What is the best thing about your job?
For the moment, I am enjoying meeting as many science engaged people as possible and then trying to find ways to showcase their science. I am genuinely excited by hearing what people do in research as I am always inspired and motivated by hearing about people’s projects and how they help us across the community. I am continually impressed by hearing and seeing how people think and problem solve. I am very lucky to be able to spend some time talking with such great minds.

What is the most challenging thing/issue you face in your work?
The application of science and scientific knowledge is unlimited. Many of our issues and concerns may already have a solution or some available help. It is a challenge to get that information to as wide an audience as possible, give as many a chance to be inspired by it, and perhaps rethink an application of it. It just needs more time, money, people, opportunities… but don’t we all!

If you could give science communicators one piece of advice, what would it be?
Treat your audience with intellectual respect – they may not be in your field of work, but they are clever enough to understand what you do. Your communication is more relevant and important if you talk to your audience; your communication should be around engaging and inspiring, not just reporting.

State-by-state Science Week sampler

Here is a taste of some of the big (and small) events and festivals coming up in August for National Science Week. Some details are still being finalised, so check closer to the date to confirm dates, times and locations AND to see more events.

Australian Capital Territory

Science in ACTion – Old Bus Depot, Kingston, Friday 12 August
Book your class in for a unique science experience at Science in ACTion! It’s ACT science at its best, with a program designed to inspire students about STEM studies and careers. Hands-on workshops, demonstrations, interactive displays, presentations from some of ACT’s best scientists, robot competitions… There will be all of this and much, much more! Join us to share the wonders of science this August! Free event, bookings required.

Aboriginal Science in Wiradjuri Country
Showing how the traditional owners of the land used their knowledge of their environment to survive, Larry Brandy Aboriginal Storyteller will share examples of Aboriginal science in a fun and interactive way. Shows will be performed in early childhood centres, libraries and cultural centres.

New South Wales
Sydney Science Festival
It’s back! It’s big! The full program will be announced in late June. Keep your eyes on

Jurassic Garden – Australian National Botanic Garden, Mount Annan
Meet the dinosaurs and eat the plants at a free, family-friendly event in Sydney’s west, bringing ancient and modern Australian rainforests to life. Highlights include behind-the-scenes tours of the PlantBank research facility and seed vault, hands-on activities and experiments, meeting the scientists, native plant tasting, a life-size Australian dinosaur and a virtual Cretaceous creature hunt.

Sapphire Coast Science Festival
A science film night with a discussion of fact and fiction on the big screen, robotics and IT workshops are all part of this week-long regional science festival. Events will be held in Bega, Eden, Tathra and Pambula.

Riverina Science Week Festival
The Riverina Science Week Festival will offer events for all age groups across a large geographic and digital landscape on the themes of wetlands, food production, acoustics, ‘Neural Knitworks’ activities, the engineering of levee banks and bridges, kitchen science, supermarket botany, Indigenous culture, astronomy, and noxious weed identification.

Northern Territory
Spun – Wild – Darwin Festival, Sunday 14 August
Spun is a live storytelling event held in Darwin, where ordinary people tell extraordinary stories. True stories told live are incredibly powerful. They have the potential to move, confront and inspire us, reframing the way we see ourselves, and others. Enjoy this ‘Wild’ themed Spun for an inspirational start to Science week and a candid snapshot of life in the Territory.

Arid Lands EcoFair – Alice Springs
Talk dirty about soil science in the media with Costa, find out what climate change means for nature with Lesley Hughes, enjoy a Science Under the Stars dinner at the Earth Sanctuary, and try some bush tucker and a camel burger: this three-day festival brings science to the fore in Alice Springs. The 2016 program sees the event expand across multiple venues including Olive Pink Botanic Gardens, Alice Springs Community Garden, Earth Sanctuary and Alice Springs Desert Park.

Explosive Science @ Ekka
Science will be brought to life at the Royal Queensland Show (the Ekka), using a range of interactive activities, guest presentations and captivating science demonstrations to show the relevance of science in everyday life. Activities include stage shows, DNA extractions, slime workshops, sherbet making, robotics, and microscopy.

Catch a Rising Star: Women in Science in Regional Queensland
Touring Cairns, Rockhampton, Mackay, Mount Isa, Cloncurry, Charleville and Cunnamulla.
Where are science and technology’s women role models? And what are their stories? This initiative will provide communication training for early and mid-career women scientists, and then take them on a roadshow of events. Teams of researchers will visit remote and regional venues to talk about their work.

South Australia
Kids Navigate Neuroscience – University of Adelaide School of Medicine
In a twist on the traditional science fair, children will actively explore how the brain and nervous system work by participating in and judging a series of interactive neuroscience exhibits.

Science: Opening Doors – South Australian Museum
A rare opportunity for people to look behind the scenes of the Museum and see the work of its scientists up close. This event will focus on the power of science to change the way we view the world around us. Activities include interactive storytelling sessions for three- to five-year-olds, a schools program exploring ‘Drones, Droids and Robots’ and a major open day for the general public.

Science Alive!
Science Alive! is a massive science expo offering hands-on fun and learning for the whole family. It features spectacular science shows, native animals, bugs and slugs, robot demonstrations, free samples and give-aways, stardomes, flight simulators, chemistry and science demonstrations, and so much more, with over 70 interactive booths. Attracting over 30,000 people each year, it will be held on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 August at the Adelaide Showground, Wayville.

See our post at the website for even more examples of coming Science Week highlights in SA.

Science Open Season – Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery
Explore prehistoric Australia through exhibitions, displays and activities about megafauna, dinosaurs and Permian monsters. There’s also Night at the Museum, The Big Day of Science, and a look into the future with developments in space and deep-sea exploration. This program of 18 events will run across seven days, with more than 120 sessions.

Young Tassie Scientists – University of Tasmania
A selected group of early-career researchers will be given science communication training to share their passion for science with audiences across Tasmania. Each year’s group becomes the widely-profiled Science Week ambassadors for Tasmania, highlighting the relevance of science and science careers in our society through highly engaging, interactive presentations on a range of science topics. The Young Tassie Scientists are involved in local science festivals, schools, libraries, and formal events during Science Week, with a focus on regional and island communities.

Living Science at the Market – Queen Victoria Market, Sunday 21 August
Join us at the Queen Vic Market and explore the relationships between food, science, innovation, technology and the environment. Interactive presentations, hands-on activities for adults and children, shows and cooking demonstrations run throughout the day.

Market of the Mind Southbank, Friday 19 August
A fun, free, public event designed to attract the 18 to 35-year-old youth market and engage them with science. The event, held on a Friday night at Melbourne’s vibrant Southbank, attracts audiences walking along the Yarra River on their way to the AFL, dinner, drinks and social events. The event takes a night-life approach to science, providing a bar, places to sit, live music and—most importantly—entertaining, young, dynamic science presenters.

Tinkering @ Discovery – Bendigo Science and Technology Centre
Discovery will host Tinkering Workshops, partnering with local disability organisations, to encourage participation from an under-represented audience through tailored workshops. A main ‘Tinkering Day’ workshop will be offered to the general public through National Science Week.

Western Australia
Perth Science Festival – Perth Cultural Centre, 13-14 August
Snakes, stargazing and slime, oh my! Get down to the Perth Science Festival for over 50 interactive stalls, explosive experiments, science theatre and more. This year’s Festival also features bio-hacking extraordinaire Ellen Jorgenson, and the World Biotech Tour, hosted by Scitech.

Goodness Science Innovation and Sustainability Festival – Geraldton
This festival will showcase science, technology, innovation and sustainability in the mid-West, with a suite of events and activities around the themes of Ocean Science, Bright Green, Smart Health, Light Science, Engineering Energy and Social Innovation. A 10-day festival of community-focused seminars, workshops, tours and events around a geographical and virtual Festival Hub.

And many more…
Each week, more and more events are being added to the Science Week website. Search online to find an event near you.

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