Category Archives: Science Week

Grants available in Queensland

The Queensland National Science Week Coordinating Committee have grants of up to $2000 for Science Week events, as well as a grant of up to $10 000 for an organisation to stage the launch of National Science Week in the state.

Event grants

The Committee offers annual seed grants for activities undertaken during National Science Week. The grants aim to increase the awareness, understanding and engagement with STEM-based activities during National Science Week in Queensland.

You can apply for up to $2000 for your proposed event, which will be assessed on the following criteria:

The reach and impact of the project, for example the ability to reach regional areas.
Ability to reach a wide and diverse audience, particularly those with less exposure to STEM.
Novelty of the initiative and interest to your target audience.
The value for money of your project.
Your capacity and resources to carry out the project.

Apply via the online form.

Queensland launch grant

The Committee provides support of up to $10 000 for one Queensland organisation to host the launch event at the beginning of National Science Week.

The applications will be assessed on the following criteria:

The reach and impact of the project, including the potential for mainstream media exposure.
Ability to reach a wide and diverse audience, particularly those with less exposure to STEM.
Ability to incorporate the launch of the week by Professor Suzanne Miller, Queensland Chief Scientist.
The value for money of your project.
Your capacity and resources to carry out the project.

Apply via the online form.

More info

If you’re successful you’ll need to comply with various conditions including acquitting the funds in a timely manner.

For clarifications and questions please email Kay Lembo, chair of the Queensland National Science Week committee.

The application forms are also available as Word documents on request.

Windy Joules measures your renewables

Windy Joules electronics kit

The school theme for National Science Week 2017 is Future Earth with a focus on Australia’s sustainability science and issues that are unique to Australia and the region.

Farmers across Australia are choosing to invest in on-farm renewable energy sources to cut costs and reduce reliance on electricity providers.

A Queensland potato grower says switching to solar will save cash and give him independence from power companies and a dairy farmer in Gippsland said he was pleased that solar panels reduced his reliance on his electricity provider.

South Australia is heading towards a 50% share of its energy output from wind and solar, and the ACT government plans to source all of its electricity needs from renewable energy by 2020.

The energy sector has called for a national plan to transition to a lower-emission economy. While newer sources of energy (i.e. wind and solar) are currently more expensive than older forms of energy (i.e. coal), over the next 20 years those older forms of energy are going to make way as renewables and batteries become cheaper – and better for the environment

A recent study from the Australian National University said wind and solar can be that replacement, with water pumped up into reservoirs used to store energy and later generate power. A cheap, stable, zero-emissions network is possible for Australia.

Overland Sun Farming are about to build a solar farm in northwest Victoria and there are similar facilities in NSW and the ACT. Energy Australia has plans to build a solar power station in Victoria, a wind farm in South Australia and a gas-fired plant in New South Wales. There is a need for innovators to invent less expensive new generators that will lead to even more affordable energy from renewable sources.

Just how much renewable energy is there where you live? Become a citizen scientist during National Science Week!

One way to get involved is to collect and analyse data, and what better learning opportunity than to build your own data logger that measures light levels or wind speeds? A very handy tool for carrying out investigations around the home, school or workplace.

Created by MadLab, the Windy Joules science kit is purpose-designed for Australian conditions.

Guest blog post by Adam Selinger, Creative Director, Children’s Discovery Museum.

School grants for 2017

How will your school get involved in National Science Week and explore the theme of Future Earth?

Applications are now open for grants to assist schools to hold an event in National Science Week. Individual schools can apply for up to $500 and the total grant pool is $90,000.

Selection criteria

Each application will be assessed on the following criteria, which are of equal importance:

The grant should enable your school to conduct science, engineering and/or mathematics activities/events beyond its usual science program.
The activity/event should bring to the attention of students (and teachers and the community) the relevance of science to everyday life and/or to industry.
The activity/event should support the ongoing and increased participation in, and engagement with, science programs within your school.
The activity/event should be manageable with the funds granted and the contribution from your school and community. An indication of the funding/resources/personnel that your school is willing to contribute will help the selection panel determine the extent to which this criterion can be met.

Please note: Funding offered to an applicant may not be the same as the amount requested.

Due to the limited availability of funding, the costs of transport, food, routine science incursions and excursions (such as to museums/science centres) are unlikely to be funded.

Applications close on 24 April.

Look at the list of successful projects from last year for ideas on the kinds of projects that are supported.

The school grant round is administered for us by the Australian Science Teachers Association.

Celebrate science week as a NSW Regional Science Hub

Outdoor science activity

Are you interested in introducing science and technology themes into your programming? Would you like to join forces with like-minded organisations to produce science events? Inspiring Australia (NSW) is currently offering grants of up to $10 000 to NSW Regional Science Hubs to deliver community programs during National Science Week in August or at other times of the year. Applications close 4 April.

The NSW Regional Science Grants Program is intended to extend the network of Regional Science Hubs, community engagement partnerships that encourage people from all walks of life to consider the relevance of science and technology to everyday life. Led by local organisations, Science Hubs deliver public programs that inform community members about the exciting possibilities generated by science, technology and innovation. They inspire young people to consider science and technology careers and spark conversations about the future by bringing scientists, research organisations and universities together with local government, museums and galleries, businesses and the community.

All kinds of science-interested organisations work together as Science Hubs, and with program support from Inspiring Australia (NSW) and other partners, deliver exceptional community engagement experiences, particularly during National Science Week.

For example, the Wagga Wagga City Library has joined forces with the local Art Gallery, Charles Sturt University and other partners to form the Riverina Science Hub that will again deliver a suite of events as part of the popular Riverina Science Festival this year during National Science Week. Snowy Monaro Council will also be joining the celebrations with a series of events planned, as will the Hunter region whose Hunter Science Festival is now a fixture on the annual events calendar. Other Science Hubs with National Science Week plans underway include those on the Sapphire Coast, New England, Cowra Cabonne and Northern Rivers regions of NSW.

Get involved

Inspiring Australia (NSW) would like to establish more Science Hubs across the state and welcomes interest from science-interested organsations. If you would like to create new opportunities for community members in your area to participate in an exciting range of science, technology and innovation outreach initiatives, check whether there is an existing Science Hub in your area.

If there is no established Science Hub in a region, your organsation can take the lead and establish a new partnership. In order to do this, you must be committed to convening ongoing science themed outreach programs and join at least two other science-interested organisations who agree to work with you as members as a Science Hub. Then you can apply for funding support through the 2017 NSW Regional Science Grants program.

Note that the intention of this initiative is to build collaborative partnerships that have a commitment to working together in the longer term to create ongoing science and technology engagement programs in regional NSW. For this reason, one-off National Science Week events will not be considered eligible for this funding round and only one grant application will be accepted per region.

More information about becoming a Science Hub and the 2017 NSW Regional Science Grants program.

Guest blog post by Jackie Randles, Inspiring Australia Manager, NSW.

National Science Week Grant Recipients, 2017

Congratulations to all of the successful applicants for National Science Week grants that were announced by Senator the Hon. Arthur Sinodinos AO, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science.

Australian Capital Territory

The Great Australian Biodiversity Challenge 2017
KR Consultancy Services

Game on! With QuestaGame, biodiversity mapping and education has become a game that everyone can play. This year QuestaGame launches the Great Australian Biodiversity Clan-vs-Clan Challenge. To play you simply download the free QuestaGame app for your iOS or Android device, join your favourite Botanic Garden “clan” and start submitting wildlife sightings. The game will identify what you find and reward points for you and your clan. The clan with the highest score wins exciting prizes – while the wildlife data you collect helps researchers make better decisions about protecting biodiversity.

‘greenlight for girls’ day
Girl Guides Association of NSW

150 girls aged 10 to 16 from the ACT and surrounding area will get together with 30 science sector role models for fun demonstrations, hands-on workshops and even a bit of personalised lab-coat decorating. Girl Guides ACT & South East NSW Region will partner with the international organisation ‘greenlight for girls’ (g4g) to bring their signature STEM event to Canberra.

Sian Ellen Keys

Scienceability will challenge your ideas about who ‘does’ science. In the lead up to National Science Week, Scienceability will run six science workshops for people with intellectual disabilities where they will explore a range of science demonstrations and activities. This will then culminate in an event during Science Week, where the Scienceability workshop participants will run their own workshop of science demonstrations and activities for the public.

SciScouts 2017: Environment – Trees, Bees and Seeds
The Scout Association of Australia ACT Branch

Scouting is all about building enquiring minds and exploring the natural world. Through a suite of displays, talks, games and activities, Scouts and Guides will work with local environmental researchers and conservation organisations to learn about waste and recycling, bushfires, floods and storms, renewable energy, chemistry, biodiversity, environmental monitoring and more.

New South Wales

Co-Lab: Science Meets Street Art
Lee Constable

10 Canberran street artists; 10 young local scientists; and one blank wall. Co-Lab: Science Meets Street Art is a creative collaboration between street artists and young scientists that aims to bring local science into the public space. See the artists, inspired by the work of the scientists, transform a blank wall at the Kingston Bus Depot into a hub for science-inspired art, with the scientists on hand to answer questions. Visitors are encouraged to come and go throughout the day and enjoy the Science in ACTion festival nearby.

The Indigenous Science Experience @ Redfern
Macquarie University

Explore the knowledge gained by forty thousand years of continued culture and a close relationship with the land, and meet today’s Indigenous experts. This four-day initiative will celebrate western and Indigenous science and achievements of Indigenous youth and Elders, with interactive science activities on household and environment themes demonstrated by Indigenous youth, and Aboriginal technology and customary practices explored and explained by Indigenous representatives from across Australia. The event will be held at the Redfern Community Centre and will culminate in the Family Science Fun Day.

Science in the Snowies
Snowy Monaro Regional Council

Science in the Snowies will involve a series of five science shows and community science events through the Snowy Mountains region, in a partnership between the library network, local community groups and schools, and science communication professionals. The project will fuse tried and tested science show performances with content relevant to the region (from the Snowy Mountains Hydro Scheme to a leafblower powered snowboard-hovercraft). Pathways for further activity will include take-home science activities, and integration with an online and mobile library STEM catalogue and book reviews.

Science in the Swamp
The Trustee for Centennial Park and Moore Park Trust

A free, outdoor family and community event at Centennial Park celebrating science and providing a range of diverse and exciting hands-on science activities accessible for all ages, from meeting a dinosaur to potting a plant. Science in the Swamp is a partnership between Centennial Parklands and science exhibition providers.

Life on Mars at the Sydney Opera House
University of New South Wales

As part of Science Week, UNSW’s Big Questions Institute presents a series of talks at the Sydney Opera House, showcasing the latest scientific thinking on the origin of life on earth and how this research applies to NASA’s Mars 2020 Rover project. The talk will involve scientists and researchers from UNSW, NASA and other pre-eminent institutions across the globe. The talk will be at an introductory level for a general public audience, including adults and children.

Are your genes your destiny? Genomics and the science of Gattaca
University of Sydney

2017 marks the 2oth anniversary of the science fiction film Gattaca, a modern classic that explored the ideas of genetic engineering and the human spirit. Free public screenings of Gattaca in Brisbane, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne will be followed by panel discussions with local content experts and commentators—scientists and creatives—about the film’s themes and accuracy. In the twenty years since Gattaca debuted, there have been huge advances in human genetics and revisiting Gattaca on the 20th anniversary offers an opportunity to explore how the science has developed and enrich a national conversation about where the science is taking us.

Riverina Science Hub Festival 2017
Wagga Wagga City Council

The Riverina Science Hub Festival is a week of opportunities to participate in science events and activities on topics such as Indigenous Sky Stories, Star Gazing, Technology of Flight, Environmental Science, Fermentation, Nerd Nite at the Pub, the Microscopic World, Kitchen Science, and the National Indigenous Science Education Program (NISEP) Indigenous Program with Elders, youth, scientists and the community.

Northern Territory

desertSMART EcoFair 2017
Arid Lands Environment Centre

The desertSMART EcoFair 2017 will involve a series of community events in Alice Springs, featuring keynote science communicators, desert scientists, ecologists, renewable energy experts, Indigenous land managers and sustainable tourism operators. Events will include school hands-on activities, science quiz’s, film screenings, workshops, panels, presentations, community information stalls, and a science of gardening workshop with ABC Gardening Australia host Costa Georgiadis.

HealthLAB: from Arafura to Arnhem Land
Menzies School of Health Research

HealthLAB is a mobile laboratory that brings health science and scientists to the broader public in communities around the Territory. Visitors will have a hands-on experience with modern technology through self-assessment of their own health. HealthLAB is designed to improve public awareness of the consequences of lifestyle choices on later health and increase public exposure to biomedical sciences and their career opportunities. In 2017, HealthLAB is planning to travel from the Tiwi Islands in the Arafura Sea across to west Arnhem Land.

Darwin Insect Festival
Sarah Nicole Bonney

From biosecurity to bug collecting, and from ecosystems to the ‘insect olympics’, the Darwin Insect Festival will be a half-day community festival with information stalls and activities celebrating the diversity and importance of insects and other arthropods in the environment.


Catch a Rising Star – Women in Science in Regional Queensland
Margaret Hardy, University of Queensland

Where are science and technology’s women role models? And what are their stories? First run in 2016 to great success, 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 school, libraries, pubs and other public places to talk about their work.

National Science Week at the Tanks: Science in the Tropics Rocks!
James Cook University

In 2017, Cairns will host ‘National Science Week at the Tanks: Science in the Tropics Rocks!’, with three feature activities. The ‘Come and try!’ art-science collaboration space will encourage people to interact directly with scientists and their research via an interactive platform. The ‘Café Scientifique: Why I became a scientist in the Tropics’ event will provide an open forum to hear from local researchers and postgraduate students. And a PechaKucha Night will sell science through stories. These events will bring together scientists, artists, musicians and the general public, both young and old, to explore and celebrate science in the tropics.

Explosive Science@Ekka 2017
Liddell Education (‘Street Science’)

This initiative brings science 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, food science, robotics, and microscopy. The event will involve partnerships with local education providers including the major universities, research organisations and institutes and run for 10 days.

2017 Pop-up Science Centre
Griffith University

The Pop-up Science Centre will be a free event held on the Gold Coast as a final celebration for National Science Week. It will aim to emulate what a science centre could look like on the Gold Coast, and provide the communities of Gold Coast and surrounding regions with practical, hands-on science experience featuring interactive exhibits that encourage visitors to experiment and explore.

South Australia

Indigenous Scientists in the Media
Australian Science Media Centre

The project will involve a media training program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scientists to support their participation in National Science Week 2017 through mainstream and new media channels. The main objective is to trigger coverage of indigenous scientists and their research during August.
The project will also present positive role models and showcase STEM jobs for indigenous children deciding on careers.

Southern Cross Outreach Observatory Project
Muhammad Akbar Hussain

Southern Cross Outreach Observatory Project (SCOOP) is a mobile astronomical observatory, designed and built to promote astronomy among communities and launched in August 2016. The observatory is equipped with a computerised telescope and can travel to distant communities. The project will involve further outreach events, planned to include Port Augusta, Broken Hill, Mildura and smaller towns around the Adelaide region.

Naracoorte Caves Connection – fossils, world heritage and more
Naracoorte Lucindale Council

What secrets of Australia’s past animals are hidden in the Naracoorte Caves? And what’s the science of this World Heritage site? A free event for schools and members of the public in the Naracoorte Lucindale Council and surrounding areas, offering a range of concurrent activities on one day running for around 45 minutes each. Activities will explore the science of Naracoorte Caves, how this relates to the geography and story of the Limestone Coast, and other agricultural and environmental science topics relevant to the region.

Coding is Cool
Salisbury East Neighbourhood Centre

The project aims to engage audiences in interactive coding workshops. The workshops will be delivered from the Salisbury East Neighbourhood Centre and libraries across the City of Salisbury. The project has three target groups being children, youth, and youth with autism spectrum disorder.

SCINEMA International Film Festival Community Screening Program
The Royal Institute of Australia

Each year SCINEMA International Science Film Festival celebrates the best in science film and screens to audiences around Australia. The Festival attracts entries from film makers around the world. Community Screenings take place during National Science Week. Any interested organisation, school or community group can register and host their own free screening of a curated SCINEMA film playlist.


Beaker Street SciBar @ Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery
Margo Adler

The Beaker Street SciBar is a three night pop-up science bar in Hobart’s Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery, featuring hands-on workshops, interactive demonstrations, engaging talks, on-site experiments, competitions, games, films, and plenty of prominent local and visiting scientists to chat with over a drink. A scientific wonderland for adults filled with the weird and wonderful, SciBar will enchant visitors with an endless supply of interesting people to meet and new ideas to discover.

Science Open Season
Launceston City Council

Science Open Season will involve a program of 17 events over seven days, including exhibitions, workshops, expo/open day, presentations and activities relating to the 2017 Science Week school theme of Future Earth. ‘Future Launceston’ the regions hub, will be explored as a healthy, resilient, productive city of the future. Plus, Night at the Museum, The Big Day of Science, the Crazy Scientist and science-based education activities will be available to the public.

Young Tassie Scientists – Local Science Stories in Our Communities
University of Tasmania

The Young Tassie Scientists are a group of young, passionate scientists who will be involved in local science festivals, schools, libraries, and formal events during National Science Week. This group of early-career researchers are given science communication training to aid them in sharing their stories with audiences across Tasmania’s regional and island communities. The Young Tassie Scientists become widely-profiled Science Week ambassadors for Tasmania, highlighting the relevance of science and science careers in society through highly engaging, interactive presentations and activities.

TastroFest – Tasmania’s Astronomy Festival
Central Coast Council

Tasmania has some of the clearest skies in the world and this has inspired a festival that explains the complexity of the night sky to all levels of interest in the community. The festival will involve three days of lectures, workshops, tours, art, photography, science shows and exhibitions in Ulverstone. The organisers will involve local interest groups such as droid makers, and cosplay, to enhance the visitor’s experience, and connect with the latest technology groups and speakers from around the world to enable future driven themes for the festival.


Immersive Science: The Next Frontier in Australian Astronomy
Swinburne University of Technology

How are Australian astronomers leading the world in understanding the extremes of nature, from black holes to dark matter, using light and gravity to see the Universe as never before? Associate Professor Alan Duffy and Dr Katie Mack, co-hosts of the astronomy YouTube series ‘Pint In The Sky’, will guide local and remote audiences through the next frontier of Australian astronomy using interactive virtual reality technology and answering burning questions via social media. Alan and Katie will excite, educate and inspire families at a daytime talk; share a pint of science with an evening audience; and link up with remote audiences and local astronomical societies via an online video stream to regional viewing parties.

Science Gallery Melbourne: ‘Blood’ for National Science Week
The University of Melbourne

Science Gallery Melbourne is a new gallery and program designed to engage 15-25 year olds through the collision of art and science. Science Gallery Melbourne launches in 2017 with an inaugural season Blood, exploring the scientific, symbolic and strange nature of blood. The full Blood season will run for six weeks and include an exhibition and public program. The National Science Week project will be focused on three high profile activities as a component of Blood: a discussion panel exploring the science and taboo of menstruation, multidisciplinary interactive performance and a blood culture workshop.

Translating Science and Technology
Discovery Science and Technology Centre, Bendigo

A visit to the Discovery Science and Technology Centre can be part of a journey into innovation, creativity and scientific curiosity. This project sees Discovery partner with Loddon Campaspe Multicultural Service to invite members of refugee and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities to take part in workshops and a visit to the Centre, overcoming language barriers and enjoying experiences with science and technology.

Family Science Games Nights
Deakin University

Deakin University will develop and run a series of Family Science Games Nights, showcasing the latest in educational science games and introducing families to fun and relaxing ways to learn science at school or at home. The program involves sessions run on the weeknights of National Science Week. In each session, children and their families will be able to play and explore games about science, with each child leaving with a showbag of science game goodies. Iterations of Family Science Games Night will take place at separate Deakin University campuses in Melbourne, Geelong and Warrnambool. Community groups and schools will also be offered a session template and kit to run their own Family Science Games Nights.

Science in the Park: Wildlife Counts
Swinburne University of Technology

Care for a spot of frog calling, water bug identification, bird watching or koala spotting? The Science in the Park: Wildlife Counts event at the Coolart Wetlands and Homestead Reserve in Somers, will be the focus of free science activities on the Mornington Peninsula catering for all ages. PrimeSCI!, along with universities, state and local organisations and volunteer groups, will host a day of science presentations, science displays and hands-on activities, wildlife monitoring, and education on sustainable practices in the unique wetland environments of the Coolart Reserve. Ian Temby, author of Wild Neighbours, will be a key speaker. The event will promote the National Science Week school theme of Future Earth and will also compliment the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development.

Global Gamble – A Climate Change Comedy!
Echelon Productions

Global Gamble will combine high energy sketch comedy with improvisation to entertain and educate audiences through a fun and interactive experience. The program is a behaviour changing, science education program focused on four key science based messages encouraging sustainable consumption, energy efficiency and water conservation, with a core focus on Global Sustainability Science. Free public performances will tour into major general public venues across Melbourne, Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth as well as ticketed shows for schools in each of these cities.

Western Australia

Soil Secrets
City of Gosnells

Soil Secrets will introduce soil science to new audiences through 14 activities, engaging 2000 people across the Perth and Peel regions of Western Australia in interactive workshops, community planting days, book displays and a cohesive digital campaign delivered across Facebook and Soil Secrets is founded on strong partnerships with community groups, businesses, researchers and 13 local governments and links to resources from the school’s theme for 2017, Future Earth.

Pantry Blitz
Department of Agriculture & Food

Pantry Blitz 2017 will be a citizen science event open to all Western Australians and South Australians, to learn more about how everyone can help to protect our food, environment and livelihoods from damage caused by household pests. Registered participants (Pantry Blitzers) will place a sticky trap inside their pantry for one month and use the free MyPestGuide Reporter tools to send standardised pest observations back to the Department of Agriculture and Food, Western Australia (DAFWA) for identification. DAFWA will identify the insects, respond back to the Pantry Blitzers’ reports, publish all reports online for everyone to view and publish a summary report on the Pantry Blitz webpage.

The Virtual Plant Cell: exploring cell science through virtual reality
University of Western Australia

The Virtual Plant Cell is an educational virtual reality resource being developed by the ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Energy Biology. It allows users to experience the microscopic inner world of a plant in an immersive way, interact with a cell and learn about the complex processes that researchers study, and serves as a platform on which to create scientific dialogue between scientists and community. The project will be exhibited publicly on mobile devices at National Science Week 2017 festivals around Australia.

Frontiers of Science – Community Expo
Australian Association for Environmental Education (WA Chapter)

Frontiers of Science is an exciting, innovative expo that will showcase leading edge science and ideas to extend and challenge scientific thinking about the world around us. The Expo aims to increase public awareness and understanding of science by bringing people of all ages and backgrounds together to take part in one on one conversations, hands-on demonstrations, open forums and presentations that explore advances in science across a range of disciplines including the physical sciences, agriculture and medicine, engineering, mathematics and the environment.

Goodness: Science, Sustainability and Innovation Festival

Pollinators and its project partners will aim to extend the reach and impact of Goodness Festival, an annual science engagement activity and community. The Festival will involve at least 12 major events including community activities and in-depth workshops. These will be clustered around several physical hubs, include tours and webcasts, and leverage off the presence of a high-profile celebrity guest.

Scitech Future Earth
Scitech Discovery Centre

Scitech is planning a series of events under the Future Earth theme. These include a marquee at the Perth Science Festival and follow up two-day family event at Scitech. A keynote speaker will be engaged to share their global experiences with local audiences in at least three sessions.

2017 Grant Round Now Open

National Science Week 2016 was a fantastic celebration of science, with more than 1800 events attended by 1.3 million participants.

In 2017, National Science Week will be held from 12 – 20 August. The Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, the Hon Greg Hunt has announced the opening of the 2017 round of the National Science Week Grants. The round opened on 19 October 2016 and will close at 4.00pm AEDT (4pm Canberra time) on 9 November 2016.

A total of $500 000 is available nationwide through the Inspiring Australia – Science Engagement Programme. The funding will support exciting events and activities that promote and encourage interest in science, engineering, technology and innovation, and communicate their relevance in everyday life.

Projects that involve the general public in science can apply for funding of between $2000 and $20 000. Applicants are encouraged to host events or activities that extend the reach of National Science Week to regional and remote areas, and to engage new and previously under-served audiences.

For more information, including the National Science Week Grant Guidelines, and to apply, visit

Science to ignite silver screens in WA

Sci Film Poster

Move over Bad Mom’s and Ghostbusters – science is taking the silver screens across WA following this years’ Sci Film Regional WA Science Short Film competition.

People of all ages and abilities entered the regional film competition using whatever video technology they had on hand, to effectively capture and communicate science in three minutes or less. Science communication and film making workshops for communities were provided in regional centres, facilitated by Inspiring Australia’s regional hubs in the months leading up to the entry deadline.

The competition had submissions from across WA, on topics as varied as primary student claymation films on forces and motion, to documentary ‘Attenborough’ style videos unearthing the life of soils and scientists.

This breakthrough event is the brainchild of Film Harvest and Inspiring Australia, who are collaborating to engage regional audiences with cinema and science.

‘Cinema brings community together,” says Josephine Hayes, co-founder of Film Harvest. ‘The environment itself is a vessel for powerful and effective communication, where art and science are fused together in the medium of digital film.’

The winning short film ‘Have you ever wondered’ was shown at simultaneous National Science week launch events on 17 August at Orana Cinema locations in Albany, Busselton, Geraldton and Kalgoorlie. The winning film was made in Kalgoorlie by 12 year old Jared Campbell, and communicates the science of how different animals do something we all need to survive – drinking water.

The top 15 films from the Sci Film competition will continue to be screened at 6.15pm on Wednesday each week, before scheduled Film Harvest films at Orana cinemas in Albany, Busselton, Kalgoorlie, and Geraldton through until the end of November.

Once they have been screened the videos will also go live on a YouTube channel, where people will be able to share the videos using social media.

Tickets are available at Orana Cinema Box Offices and online.

Where's wallaby?

Where’s wallaby? 45,000 citizen scientists help researchers save our species

Wildlife Spotter is the online citizen science project for National Science Week 2016, undertaken by ABC Science in conjunction with the Australian Museum and six different wildlife research projects. Supported by funding through the Citizen Science package, it’s giving Australian from all walks of life an insight into the research process. Australia is a vast

Read More

Tiny fossil treasures of Queensland

Excavatng Capricorn Caves

When I first started volunteering at the Queensland Museum I was given a box full with hundreds of thousands of very tiny fossilised bones known as ‘microfossils’. These fossils belonged to a range of small-bodied vertebrate species such as frogs, lizards, birds, bats, bandicoots, possums and rodents, just to name a few. These microfossils were excavated from a 100 000 – 5000 year old cave deposit in Colosseum Chamber at Capricorn Caves in Rockhampton.

My job was to carefully sort through these fossils using fine brushes and tweezers under a microscope and identify what part of the skeleton they came from and what species of animal they belonged to.

What I didn’t know at the time was that I was essentially sorting through fossilised owl vomit. Owls would hunt their prey at night and bring them back to the cave to consume their meal. The bones are the undigested parts that owls regurgitate into pellets and become incorporated into the cave floor deposit over several thousand years. This is where my passion for microfossils first began.

These small fossil animals, ‘microfauna’, are very helpful when trying to understand the palaeoecology and environment thousands of years ago. In 2012 my colleague, Dr Scott Hocknull, and I, discovered new fossil deposits at Capricorn Caves. As I was digging through sediment in a cave chamber I first pulled out a fossilised tooth belonging to a bandicoot that had lived in the rainforests that once spread across eastern Queensland.

Similar rainforest deposits have been found at the nearby Mt Etna Caves National Park. Both Mt Etna and now Capricorn Caves contain the only known Quaternary rainforest vertebrate fossil record in Australia.

Nearby we scrambled into a small chamber under a false floor and were amazed at what we saw above us. Our torches lit up a cave breccia that had cemented thousands upon thousands of bones into rock over several thousand years. This breccia contained fossils of the pig-footed bandicoot, a recently extinct species of bandicoot that once thrived in arid central Australia.

For the first time at Capricorn Caves we had found evidence for a faunal succession from the oldest rainforest (500 000 – 300 000 years ago) through to an arid environment (250 000 – 205 000 years ago) and finally to a mesic forest environment similar to today (100 000 years ago – present).

However, microfossils don’t just occur in caves. We have found microfossils from a site in tropical north Queensland that preserves Australian megafauna fossils. Studies from sites in northern Australia, including Capricorn Caves, are important as we are finding that tropical fauna and flora do not adapt well to climatic change as can be seen with the deterioration of the wet tropic rainforests and the Great Barrier Reef. I have also found new arid zone microfossil deposits from the Eulo Springs super-group in south west Queensland.

We were surveying an area that preserves hundreds of bones from the world’s largest marsupial, Diprotodon optatum and other megafauna. As I was collecting pieces of shell from a fossilised turtle, a very tiny bone caught my eye. It was a fossilised gill cover from a fish. Excited by this find I continued digging and then picked up something I was familiar with, a rodent incisor. Just like the cave deposits we found freshwater snails, fish, frogs, lizards, snakes, waterfowl, small mammals, bandicoots and rodents. These findings give us an indication there were once megasprings and wetlands capable of sustaining a wide range of animal life including large aquatic vertebrates, such as crocodiles, in arid zone Queensland.

This is why I have a specific research interest in microfauna representing a variety of Australian palaeoecologies such tropical rainforests, woodlands and arid zone springs. These sites preserve fossils from the Quaternary Period, a time of major faunal reorganisation, turnover and extinction due to environmental changes initiated by severe climatic change, human activity and the arrival of new apex predators in Australia.

Research on these collections can compare the responses of Quaternary faunas and their environments to similar climatic changes across vastly different habitats and geographical areas, in particular studying the impact of aridification on the Australian continent.

Guest blog post by Rochelle Lawrence, Palaeontologist at Capricorn Caves and Research Assistant in Geosciences at Queensland Museum.

Biohacker Dr. Ellen Jorgensen is Coming to Perth this National Science Week!

We’ve heard of computer hackers, but what about biohackers? After all, we have personal computers, so why not personal biotech?

Meet one of National Science Week’s guest scientists for 2016 – biohacker Dr. Ellen Jorgensen of Genspace, New York USA. Ellen helped to introduce the world to the biohacker revolution in 2012, with her TEDTalk ‘Biohacking – you can do it too’, which has since gone on to have over 1 million views online.

“Biohackers work alone. We work in groups, in big cities and in small villages. We reverse engineer lab equipment. We genetically engineer bacteria. We hack hardware, software, wetware, and, of course, the code of life. We like to build things. Then we like to take things apart. We make things grow. We make things glow. And we make cells dance.” – Ellen Jorgensen, TedGlobal, 2012

Ellen, has a PhD in molecular biology and worked for over 30 years in the biotech industry before co-founding Genspace, which opened the world’s first community biotechnology lab in 2010. This grassroots innovation space allows anyone to learn about biotechnology and get involved in citizen science projects. Imagine the possibilities, if we take science out of traditional labs and put it back into the hands of everyday citizens.

As a passionate advocate and leader in increasing scientific literacy, democratizing science and using biotechnology to fuel meaningful citizen science projects we are thrilled to be hosting Ellen at a series of events in both Perth and Sydney this National Science Week.

For more information on where you can catch Ellen in Perth see her event details below:

Perth Science Festival
10:00am – 4:00 pm; 13 – 14 August 2016


DNA provides the building blocks of all life – and we are now able to take these blocks apart and explore them outside traditional science labs and lab coats! Join this year’s National Science Week visiting scientist biohacker Dr. Ellen Jorgensen to explore the possibilities of DNA-based technologies in your community. Learn about her own journey in building a community biotechnology laboratory, and numerous projects that have engaged non-scientists and scientists alike. Where could a community laboratory take you?

12:30 – 1:00pm; Saturday 13 August from on the Archimedes Stage at the Perth Science Festival

Followed by Q&A with Ellen at the World Biotech Tour tent.

11:30 – 12:00pm; Sunday 14 August from on the Archimedes Stage at the Perth Science Festival

Followed by Q&A with Ellen at the World Biotech Tour tent.

World Biotech Tour at Scitech
15 – 21 August

Note: Open to the public, tickets must be purchased at Scitech $19 Adults, $16 Concession, $12 Children and Under 4’s free.

Hacking Life – A Biohacker’s Story

We’ve heard of computer hackers, but what about biohackers? Join Dr. Ellen Jorgensen, and discover what happens when any interested citizen is given access to biotechnology lab spaces. Explore the world of ‘biohacking’, and discover where DNA extraction and biotechnologies could take us in the future. What are the possibilities if we democratize science by taking it out of traditional science labs and putting it back into the hands of everyday citizens?

Monday 15 August
10:00 – 10:30 am; 11:00 – 11:30am, Science Theatre at Scitech

Tuesday 16 August
2:00 – 12:30pm; 1:00 – 1:30pm, Science Theatre at Scitech


6:00pm – 7:30pm; Monday 15 August. This is a ticketed event that is open to the public. Tickets are available here.

Engineers Australia and CORE are delighted to be hosting Dr. Ellen Jorgensen (Genspace, New York, USA) and Dr. Oron Catts (SymbioticA, Perth WA) to share with us their experiences in creating innovative lab spaces that are revolutionizing the way citizens and scientists can engage and create in scientific spaces.

Meet Dr. Ellen Jorgensen, co-founder and Executive Director of Genspace. Since 2009 Genspace has provided educational outreach, cultural events, and a platform for science innovation at the grassroots level. Ellen’s efforts to develop Genspace into a space which brings together entrepreneurship, innovation and citizen science have been recognized by Nature Medicine, Science, Discover Magazine, Wired, Make, BBC News, Dan Rather Reports, PBS News Hour, The Discovery Channel, and The New York Times and her TedGlobal 2012 talk ‘Biohacking – you can do it too’ has received over one million views.

Meet Dr. Oron Catts, the Director of SymbioticA – the Centre of Excellence in Biological Arts in the School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology at the University of Western Australia and Professor of Contestable Design at The Royal College of Arts, London. Oron Catts is an artist, designer, researcher and curator. In 2000 he co-founded SymbioticA, an artistic research centre housed within the School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology, at the University of Western Australia.

Under Catts’ leadership SymbioticA has gone on to win the Prix Arts Electronica Golden Nica in Hybrid Art (2007), the WA Premier Science Award (2008), and became a Centre for Excellence in 2008. In 2012-2013 he set up a biological art lab called Biofilia, at the School of Art, Design and Architecture at Aalto University, Helsinki, where he is a Visiting Professor. Catts’ ideas and projects reach beyond the confines of art; his work is often cited as an inspiration to diverse areas such as new materials, textiles, design, architecture, ethics, fiction, and food.

Exploring Plant Barcoding in Kings Park’ , Biodiversity Conservation Centre, Kings Park WA 4:00 – 5:30 pm; Tuesday 16 August.

Discover the ways that everyday citizens can help collect and harness the power of DNA. From making products like dye, cloth, and fuel to protecting biodiversity, the secrets lay in the building blocks of life – if you know where to look and how to access them! Join Dr. Ellen Jorgensen, and learn about DNA barcoding and her experiences in engaging citizens to catalogue biodiversity in Alaska!

*Bookings are essential and can be made online.

After her stop in Perth Ellen will head to Sydney, NSW where she will engage audiences in a suite of events including the Global Biohack Revolution at ATP Innovations, seminar sessions Get Down with DNA and DNA Groundswell at the Royal Botanic Gardens, and a public lecture on Biohacking at the University of Technology. More details on where you can catch her in Sydney this National Science Week can be found here.