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.
Young Tassie Scientists, such as zoologist and animal ‘sexpert’ Amy Edwards and barrista scientist Jeremy Just, are busting the stereotype of the crusty old grey-haired scientist, sharing their science stories around Tasmania.
Each year, up to 30 young scientists and PhD students are chosen for the program and put through science communication bootcamp so that they can talk to the media about National Science Week and tour the state giving talks to school students and public audiences throughout the month of August.
When Jeremy is not extracting interesting chemicals from native plants using a barrista-style coffee machine, he might be amusing young students by using electrolysis to create bubbles of oxygen and hydrogen, and setting them on fire! A relative veteran of Young Tassie Scientists, Jeremy’s live science show is now one of the key attractions at Hobart’s annual Festival of Bright Ideas.
Since its inception in 2003, well over 100 people have participated in Young Tassie Scientists, with many finding the experience so fun and rewarding they return in future years to tour again and mentor the new recruits.
In a typical year, Young Tassie Scientists visit 80 schools, reaching over 14,000 people. And they reach thousands more as the dynamic faces and voices of Tasmania’s National Science Week media campaign.
Importantly, this University of Tasmania program—with funding support from Inspiring Australia through National Science Week—reaches schools and students in isolated and disadvantaged parts of the state. The 2016 program even saw visits to King Island and Flinders Island.
“Everyone on Flinders Island has been so supportive, the Young Tassie Scientists were a real hit,” says organiser Adele Wilson.
“The locals organised a meet-the-scientists evening to coincide with Parmi Night at the local pub, which was very well attended—word had got out all over the Island! After spending a fun-filled day at Flinders Island District School, the Young Tassie Scientists were recognised everywhere they went.”