NSW science outreach in 2015

Inspiring Australia (NSW) is gearing up for another big year in 2015, with plans for how to consolidate the impressive range of statewide science engagement efforts of the past two years underway. In terms of what’s in store for Sydney and regional NSW, over the coming months a new grant round will be announced to support new and established Regional Science Hubs to develop community initiatives that spark interest in science.

To support early and mid career researchers and assist them to improve their communication skills, we will be working with the British Council on FameLab and will continue to work with City of Sydney Libraries to present monthly Inspiring Science Talks. We’ll also be encouraging regional libraries across NSW to host science talks as part of our continued efforts to get scientists out of labs and into the community.

National Science Week
National Science Week will take place between 15 and 23 August 2015 this year and we look forward to working with you on developing and promoting your events. Commonwealth grant recipients will be announced in the next few weeks. NSW Regional Science Grants will also be available for activities presented during the campaign period and we will let you know when these become available.

This year Sydney stakeholders will again be encouraged to work collaboratively to ensure greater visibility for the dozens of events scheduled during National Science Week. Ideas for improving how we work together are being explored and new opportunities for collaboration will be up for discussion at a Sydney stakeholder event on 23 March to which all are welcome. Come along and meet your colleagues and share your views about how we can make this National Science Week year’s celebrations even more successful than last year’s campaign.

National Science Week in schools
Inspired by the 2015 International Year of Light, the 2015 theme for schools is ‘Making waves: the science of light’. Grants of up to $500 are available to all Australian schools (preschool through to senior secondary) to help them conduct activities and events during National Science Week. Teachers, parents and students are encouraged to propose in-school events.

Applications open Monday 2 March 2015 and close Friday 24 April 2015 and will be available from the National Science Week website.

Each year Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA) develops a free e-book of resource ideas for teachers based on the National Science Week school theme. This year’s e-book Making waves: the science of light will have lesson ideas for teachers of Years F-10. All lessons will be directly linked to the Australian Curriculum: Science. The e-book will be available in early May on both the ASTA and National Science Week websites.

Regional Science Grants
As in previous years, Inspiring Australia (NSW) will be offering NSW Regional Science Grants to facilitate partnerships between three or more organisations and individuals with an interest in promoting community engagement with science. Those wishing to secure funding for 2015 projects are encouraged to start planning now to ensure that partner organisations are ready and willing to contribute to and support proposed projects. With limited funds available, proposals from Regional Science Hubs that demonstrate community partnerships and support from local groups will be highly regarded.

Building capacity
In order to build audiences and ensure that local scientists and other interested people are aware of how they can get involved in engagement initiatives, Regional Science Hub members are encouraged to speak to staff in local councils, regional universities and regional arts organisations. Hubs partnering with these kinds of organisations have greatly benefited from input not only from scientists but also from professional events and marketing staff.

If you have not done so already, reach out to new partners who may be able to offer some support. By promoting your events through established and popular websites and newsletters using collateral produced by professional designers, you will attract more community members to your events. Your grant proposal will also be stronger if you can demonstrate access to professional expertise.

Civic leaders like local mayors, MPs and senior academics are often happy to speak at public events or issue media releases and this can help generate media interest in what you are doing. Consider identifying businesses with an interest in science who may be able to work with you and contribute in-kind and financial support to your community initiatives.

Read PwC’s tips for developing corporate partnerships.

Sharing your stories
We always welcome articles for sharing in our news alert that generally goes out in the first week or two of each month. Please send 500-700 words plus an image to jackie.randles@sydney.edu.au. You are also encouraged to post events and opportunities on the Science Ignite Facebook page and researchers seeking opportunities to connect with the general public can propose ideas for upcoming Inspiring Science talks.

Please feel free to drop me a line to jackie.randles@sydney.edu.au to share ideas or suggestions about where you would like to see Inspiring Australia heading over the coming months. I look forward to working with you all in 2015.

Jackie Randles is Manager Inspiring Australia (NSW).