Science Week grants open; saving snakes, shaking up share markets; and world-changing ideas

Plus more grants announced for student science engagement, Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science winners, and events and opportunities around the country.

Science Minister Greg Hunt has announced grants for National Science Week 2017 AND funding to support science students participating in special science engagement activities and international competitions. As a National Youth Science Forum alumnus myself, I’m delighted to see this investment in the next generation of scientists.

ia1Now is the time to plan for Science Week, especially if you’d like some cold hard cash to help deliver your event. More information on the grant program is below, along with case studies that can provide ideas for event content, collaboration and communication. Read on for details.

There will be other interesting science events and funding opportunities in different parts of Australia over the next few weeks, including American astro-star Dr Lisa Randall’s visit to Australia, a BBC Future Summit in Sydney, regional science grants, and the ‘Science of Life’ panel event in Perth. More on these below.

Finally, last week saw science enthusiasts, policy makers and politicians come together to celebrate top researchers, innovators and science teachers at the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science. We introduce the prize winners and their work below, from ecologist Rick Shine’s novel ways to protect peak predators from cane toads, to teacher Suzy Urbaniak taking students on geology field trips.

Inspiring Australia managers celebrating local science at the Prime Minister’s Prizes gala. From left to right: Ingrid McCarthy (ACT), Jackie Randles (NSW), Paul Lyons (NT), Sheryn Pitman (SA), Simon Carroll (WA), and Carmen Smith (WA).

Inspiring Australia managers celebrating local science at the Prime Minister’s Prizes gala. From left to right: Ingrid McCarthy (ACT), Jackie Randles (NSW), Paul Lyons (NT), Sheryn Pitman (SA), Simon Carroll (WA), and Carmen Smith (WA).

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Tanya Ha, Associate, Science in Public
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In this newsletter:

Get set for National Science Week 2017: grants up to $20K, themes & information

The Australian Government’s grant round for National Science Week 2017 is now open

Grants from $2,000 to $20,000 to a total of $500,000 will be awarded to provide funding support for National Science Week events and engagement projects, from panel discussions on hot topics to film nights, and from online activities to regional science festivals.

Projects need to be largely for general public audiences and be held in National Science Week (12-20 August 2017), or in the week immediately before or after.

Applications are open until 4pm (Canberra time), Wednesday 9 November. We strongly encourage you to submit well before the cut-off time.

For more information, guidelines and the online application form visit:

This year’s program saw 1.3 million Australians from all walks of life get involved in more than 1,700 Science Week events and online activities, including school students programming robots to dance, forums on food facts and fads, the science of whisky, a tour of a cancer research lab, and footy players versus ballerinas in a scientific fitness challenge.

And the ABC’s online citizen science project ‘Wildlife Spotter’ has seen more than 50,000 people help scientists identify more than 3.2 million animals snapped by automated cameras.

It’s the prime time for science engagement. Now is the time to start planning for your piece of the action. For more information about National Science Week visit:

Surfing Scientist Ruben Meerman shows how hot the audience is at Science Alive! in Adelaide.

Surfing Scientist Ruben Meerman shows how hot the audience is at Science Alive! in Adelaide.

Schools theme ‘Future Earth’ explores the science of sustainability

The 2017 National Science Week schools theme will be ‘Future Earth’, with a teacher resource book focused on Australia’s sustainability science, and will highlight those issues that are unique to Australia and our region.
Future Earth launched in 2015 and is a major 10-year international initiative to advance global sustainability science.

Small grants of up to $500 will be available. These are administered by the Australian Science Teachers Association, the people behind the National Science Week resources for schools.

Applications will be open from 27 February–24 April 2017. The grant pool of $90,000 is provided by the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.

For more information about National Science Week in schools, visit

Sydney Science Festival and Inspiring Australia (NSW) stakeholder briefing

All are welcome to attend the final Inspiring Australia NSW stakeholder briefing for 2016:

  • 11:00am-12:30pm this Monday 31 October at the New Law Foyer, Eastern Avenue, The University of Sydney.

Join colleagues for a discussion about the second Sydney Science Festival and add your voice to plans for its future directions.

This will also be an opportunity to find out about several new innovation initiatives from CSIRO to support researchers. You’ll also catch up on Inspiring Australia news and policy updates. A light lunch will be served at the end of formal proceedings.

Register to attend by emailing

$13.3m in grants to support student science, engagement and Olympiads

ia4Minister announces new funding for student science engagement and international competitions

Young Australians passionate about science and maths now have more opportunities to learn from and compete with the best through new government funding for a range of science, technology, engineering and maths activities.

The nation’s best and brightest will have more options to travel to national and international competitions, more opportunities to participate in the National Youth Science Forum and a chance to meet and compete against their peers as Australia hosts the Asian Physics Olympiad in 2019.

Read Minister Greg Hunt’s media release for more details.

Minister Hunt is pictured with Rye Primary School students during National Science Week 2016.

Croc dissection, bringing science to ‘wellness’, Indigenous science & a short film competition: Science Week success stories

Case studies of National Science Week events, what worked and how to make them last

Do you need inspiration for science engagement events? Or ideas on how to make the investment in a single event pay off in the long term? Or tips for how it can reach a bigger, broader audience?

We’ve put together some short case studies of past National Science Week initiatives to share the secrets of their success.

ia5Serving up a healthy dose of science to ‘wellness’

The ‘Bringing Science to Wellness’ panel event used the hot topic of ‘wellness’ to bring together an unlikely combination of mainstream media, academia and consumer advocacy to explore science and reach bigger audiences.

‘Bringing Science to Wellness’ was one of the hits of the 2015 Sydney Science Festival, and was the template for the 2016 Melbourne event ‘Risky Business or Worried Well?’.

ia6Making a crocodile dissection last

There’s nothing like ‘cutting up a crocodile’ to grab attention!

Inspiring Australia’s team in the Territory grabbed this opportunity and turned it into an introduction to animal anatomy, a successful science media opportunity, a university open day highlight, an engagement opportunity for the local croc industry, and a series of video resources for science teachers.

Image from NT News

ia7Science meets cinematography in regional WA

Film Harvest and Inspiring Australia joined forces to engage budding filmmakers with science.

The result: a series of science film workshops, a regional short science film competition, a movie night to showcase the winner, and the finalists continuing to light up the big screen.

ia8Young Tassie Scientists in all corners of the Apple Isle

Young Tassie Scientists give the next generation of scientists and engineers communication skills and an opportunity to hone them, speaking to the media as ambassadors for National Science Week and giving presentations in schools across the state.

isercc-2015-1Indigenous Science Experience @ Redfern: from traditional knowledge to 21st century minds

The annual Indigenous Science Experience @ Redfern is demonstrating the value of traditional knowledge and contemporary Indigenous science. In 2016, this initiative was replicated in Western Australia.

Defending Australia’s snakes and lizards; making share markets fair and efficient; and more… 2016 PM’s Prizes for Science awarded

Meet the 2016 winners of the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science

Last week, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull presented the 2016 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science to seven of Australia’s top scientists, innovators, and science teachers.


Left to right: Gary Tilley, Kerrie Wilson, Colin Hall, Minister Greg Hunt, Rick Shine, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Michael Aitken, Richard Payne, and Suzy Urbaniak (Photo credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science).

Left to right: Gary Tilley, Kerrie Wilson, Colin Hall, Minister Greg Hunt, Rick Shine, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, Michael Aitken, Richard Payne, and Suzy Urbaniak. (Photo credit: Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science).

The 2016 recipients are:

  • Rick Shine, for defending Australia’s snakes and lizards, Prime Minister’s Prize for Science (The University of Sydney)
  • Michael Aitken, for making stock markets fair and efficient, Prime Minister’s Prize for Innovation (Capital Markets CRC/Macquarie University)
  • Colin Hall, for creating manufacturing jobs by replacing glass with plastic, the inaugural Prize for New Innovators (The University of South Australia)
  • Richard Payne, for re-engineering nature to fight for global health, Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year (The University of Sydney)
  • Kerrie Wilson, for conservation that works for government, ecosystems and people, Frank Fenner Prize for Life Scientist of the Year (The University of Queensland/ARC Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions)
  • Suzy Urbaniak—a geologist by trade—for turning students into scientists, Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Secondary Schools (Kent Street Senior High School, Perth)
  • Gary Tilley, for creating better science teachers, Prime Minister’s Prize for Excellence in Science Teaching in Primary Schools (Seaforth Public School, Sydney/Macquarie University)

You can see images, video footage and read more online at

Check out all the action from the night on Twitter via #pmprize and feel free to tweet your congratulations.

Unlocking the secrets of the Universe: world-renowned physicist Lisa Randall coming to Australia (Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney)

Help our science-loving friends at Think Inc get the word out

ia10If rockstars and sport stars can fill stadiums, why not science stars? That’s the logic behind Think Inc, the events company bringing some of the greatest minds from around the world to Australia.

They’re the ones who brought Neil deGrasse Tyson and Steve ‘Woz’ Wozniak to Australia for National Science Week in 2015 and 2016 respectively, and helped make arrangements for Woz to star in Science Week TV advertisements.

Next month, they’re bringing world-renowned physicist Lisa Randall to Australia.

At ‘An evening with Dr Lisa Randall’ audiences can hear Lisa discuss the hidden dimensions of our universe, the balance between creative and critical thought in science, and the importance of empowering girls and young women’s scientific interests and pursuits. She’ll be joined by host Dr Tamara Davis, an Australian astrophysicist.

ia11Desh Amila and Suzi Jamil (pictured with Woz), the two firebrands behind Think Inc, would love your help promoting Lisa Randall’s events. It you’ve got innovative, creative or clever ideas—and could use a couple of free tickets—to help get the word out, drop them a line via

For more information about the events, visit:

Grants up to $7,000 to support regional science engagement (NSW)

Attention regional scientists, local government organisations (such as councils, National Parks and Wildlife services, youth and family services), business associations and chambers of commerce, universities and TAFE colleges, arts and community organisations, and other local clubs and societies!

Grants of up to $7,000 are available for regional initiatives that bring together at least three of these types of individuals and organisations to create a NSW Regional Science Hub.

The NSW Regional Science Grants program aims to further develop the network of NSW Regional Science Hubs, local partnerships that bring together multidisciplinary teams to develop and deliver high-profile science events in NSW.

Applications close Monday 7 November 2016.

Click here for more information

Canberra’s Pint of Science needs YOU! (ACT)

Putting the ‘pub’ into ‘public engagement’


Talking gravitational waves over amber fluid—quantum physicist Daniel Shaddock and Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt at Pint of Science, Canberra.

Pint of Science is an international festival that aims to showcase the amazing research of local scientists to the general public in the relaxed venue of the local pub. Regular topic include:

  • Beautiful Mind (neurosciences)
  • Atoms to Galaxies (physics, chemistry)
  • Our Body (life sciences)
  • Planet Earth (geosciences) and
  • Tech Me Out (engineering, computer science, mathematics).

In 2016, Pint of Science Australia ran over three nights in May, with events in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Newcastle, Sydney, and Perth.

For 2017, Inspiring the ACT wants to expand even more to include more themes and even more pubs across Canberra—and they need you! They’re looking for volunteers and ideas.

Visit Inspiring the ACT for more information

Not in Canberra? No worries! Pint of Science events are happening around the country. Visit for more information.

Colonising space, building the electric planet, the future of food, and more at the World-Changing Ideas Summit (Sydney, NSW)

Leading local and international thinkers share the stage for BBC Future Summit

BBC Future is the BBC’s platform for the insatiably curious that aims to make you smarter every day. Its inaugural World Changing Ideas Summit will take place in Sydney on 15 November and is supported by Inspiring Australia.

Take the opportunity to explore the latest ideas and trends in technology, science and health through fascinating discussions with a range of Australian and international experts, including BBC TV Presenter Michael Mosley, Newcastle University (UK) Professor of Experimental Architecture Rachel Armstrong, former NASA Astronaut Andrew Thomas, Australia’s Chief Scientist Alan Finkel, and marine ecologist and science communicator Emma Johnston.

For more information visit the Summit website.

Explore the science of life (Perth, WA)

Panel event explores the science and ethics of life and genetics

The instructions for life are written in our DNA, but what if you could help the next generation to be stronger, taller, smarter, slimmer, free of birth defects and generally healthier later in life—would you use that power? Should you?

Join the Australian Academy of Science for the latest in its event series on ‘The Science of Life and Death’.

‘LIFE in Perth’ will be hosted by science broadcaster Bernie Hobbs, with panellists embryologist Hayley Dickinson, geneticist Ryan Lister, and health law expert Brenda McGivern.

For more information, visit the Eventbrite page.

On the horizon…

Australian Science Communicators National Conference 2017

23-24 February 2017 in Adelaide, SA (with thanks to sponsor RiAus):

World Science Festival Brisbane

22-26 March 2017 –


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The Commonwealth of Australia, represented by Inspiring Australia, hereby excludes all liability to the extent permissible by law.

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