Celebrating science in regional NSW

Communities across NSW are set to deliver an exciting range of experiences to mark National Science Week 2015. From stargazing, film-making, lectures and informal science cafes to art installations, community gardens, hands-on activities and projects developed in partnership with Indigenous leaders, NSW Regional Science Hubs are delivering all kinds of creative and entertaining engagement experiences to spark interest and enthusiasm for all things science.

National Science Week Regional Highlights

The Sapphire Coast Science Festival on the Far South Cost of NSW presents a week-long celebration of science in numerous locations from Eden to Tathra and across to Bega. Among dozens of high-profile science talks, demonstrations and activities is the Wonders of Wallagoot, a full day focus on the science of estuaries that will be held at the Bournda Environment Education Centre. There will also be talks by visiting experts including an insect and invertebrate specialist, and an Indigenous astronomy event.

In the Albury Wodonga region, three major initiatives are on offer for all to enjoy. The Wirraminna Environmental Education Centre at Burrumbuttock will host From the Ground Up, a two-day event that combines botanical art, environmental education and cutting edge 3D science. Wodonga Library presents Neural Knitworks, the national brain health awareness project where you can make gorgeous textile neurons and learn a thing or two about neuroscience at the same time as you ‘knit, craft, wrap, or knot’ a neuron and the exciting Border Science Fair will again bring distinguished keynote speakers to the region, including Dr Ian Frazer. A student outreach program will also be delivered to encourage the region’s young people to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and maths.

Riverina Science Hub has created an exciting program of events that will appeal to a diverse cross section of the community in and around Wagga Wagga. Come along to the Microscopic Digital Projection Exhibition which will project science related microscopic images two stories high each evening of Science Week on the side of the Civic Centre, or bring the littlies to a science story time event for pre-schoolers or to the family friendly Sky Gazing events.

In the Northern Rivers Region the Arts Vs Science Festival on Saturday 22 August at Lismore City Hall will again bring some magic to National Science Week, this year in partnership with Arts in August and the Big Scrub Rainforest Day. Lismore’s art and science communities will explore the art and science of restoring biodiversity from backyards to riverbanks. Be inspired by the beauty of Big Scrub biodiversity and enjoy the interactive science/arts workshops, community tree planting on the riverbank and live music. Community members will also get a chance to experience cutting edge audiovisual displays and the Southern Cross University solar sunflower.

Armidale residents of all ages are invited to participate in From the Garden: food, medicine and stories, a unique three-month project that combines seminars, storytelling, an exhibition, workshops and the creation of a bush trail, bringing together local Elders, Indigenous and non-Indigenous academics and visiting scholars, students, artists and botanical illustrators to promote Indigenous science and to foster cultural pride. Help create a new bush food and medicinal plant trail at a community garden in East Armidale the Hub and contribute to the project’s artistic creations that will be on display at the New England Regional Art Museum. Elder Frances Bodkin will be In Conversation at UNSE on Thursday 20 August from 5.30 pm and all are welcome to celebrate the official opening of the Bush Food and Medicine Plant Trail at the East Armidale Community Garden on Saturday 22 August from 1.00pm.

In Coffs Harbour Science Under the Sea will again promote greater awareness of the marine environment and scientific processes through hands-on activities, displays and presentations to the general public over three days in two major shopping areas Southern Cross University’s National Marine Science Centre opens its doors and welcomes everyone to discover the exciting science of marine environments.

In Newcastle the Hunter Science Hub will again host a week-long science festival that includes tours, workshops, science shows and talks by guest speakers. Explore the fun side of science and learn how residents living in the Hunter connect with the scientific world. With much of the Festival taking place in Newcastle CBD, business and industry professionals will join the celebrations with stalls, workshops, talks so that community members can discover what various businesses do in relation to science. The Festival will also support the popular Electronic Vehicle Festival designed to inspire young people to pursue STEM careers. Don’t miss the Hunter Science Festival & Open day at Newcastle Museum on Sunday 16 August and the free public discussion Making waves: the science of light with Dr John Holdsworth on Tuesday 18 August. You can also join geologists on the Newcastle Time Walk on Sunday 23 August to discover what the coastal morphology tell us about the region’s past.

The Shoalhaven Science Hub led by Bundanon Trust this year presents a series of Field Days for high school students, science teachers, seniors groups and community members living in and around Nowra. Working on site at the stunning Bundanon property, Field Day participants will contribute to scientific surveys and learn about scientific methods and processes from scientists, university lecturers and tertiary students. They will undertake fieldwork activities across geology, bush regeneration, species preservation and biodiversity mapping and even use flora surveys of riparian transects, geological mapping, bush regeneration types and monitoring, water catchment data collection and analysis, fauna habitat surveying and recording.

In Canowindra the newly established Cowra Cabonne Science Hub will launch an exciting new 3D display entitled The Devonian Billabong is Alive. This creative project involves a 3D re-creation of a billabong from the Devonian era in real time. A launch event on Monday 18 August will be followed by six days of animation workshops with the project artists, public discussions and schools activities to mark National Science Week, including a special presentation by palaeontologist Dr Alex Richie who unearthed one of Australia’s richest fossil deposits in 1993.

Wollongong will this year play host to a celebration of the life and discoveries of the great Australian astronomer, explorer, engineer and inventor, Lawrence Hargrave. With several events planned to inspire the Illawarra’s school students and their teachers, Wollongong Science Centre will run paper plane workshops, a Science of Flight theatre show and The Eaton Gorge Theatre Company will also provide entertainment and a re-enactment of Hargraves’ first 16-foot flight. These events will be followed by a 1900s themed Garden Party for the wider community where gown ups can dress up and enjoy period entertainment and a film screening followed by refreshments. The Garden Party will be held at The Science Centre and Planetarium, 60 Squires Way, Nth Wollongong on Friday 21st August from 6.30pm – 9.30pm.