It’s a wrap! National Science Week 2015

Congratulations and thank you to all those who celebrated National Science Week 2015 across Australia. With more than 1700 events logged on the national calendar and dozens more hands on events in schools, the annual celebration of science continues to thrive.

This year’s schools theme, Making Waves the Science of Light, sparked hundreds of activities exploring light, with thousands of students participating in programs developed by their teachers or suggested in the free e-book that is still available for download from the National Science Week website. Developed by the Australian Science Teachers Association, the e-book is packed with light-inspired lesson ideas that are directly linked to the Australian curriculum so do get hold of a copy if you have not yet done so.

This year’s national online citizen science project Galaxy Explorer has proven to be even more popular than last year’s fantastic interactive initiative Explore the Seafloor. Around 200,000 galaxies have so far been classified by hundreds of enthusiastic citizen scientists and astronomers still need your help to classify thousands of galaxies between 3-4 billion light years away. If you have not yet had a go, there’s still time to help Australian scientists understand how galaxies grow and evolve.

Throughout National Science Week there were many live event highlights across NSW with major festivals presented in Lismore, Wagga Wagga, Newcastle, Albury Wodonga and across the Sapphire Coast. NSW Regional Science Hubs delivered all manner of engaging science experiences in their communities, including a project that saw the world famous Canowindra Grossi swim once again in the Belubula River thanks to the artistic 3D modelling and projections of artist Craig Walsh. Community members and school students in the Illawarra region explored the life of Lawrence Hargrave, known as the ‘Father of Flight’, with hands on activities, theatrical performances and opportunities for to fly his famous box kites at the Wollongong Science centre and planetarium.

In Sydney the very first citywide Sydney Science Festival has exceeded expectations, with around 39,000 people attending 132 events presented by 45 partners. Dozens more organisations helped presenting partners deliver exceptional events like Science in the Swamp, where 10,000 people came through Centennial Park to experience science in new and exciting ways and the Indigenous Science Experience at Redfern community Centre, where science was explored from the unique perspective of Indigenous cultural knowledge.

Science talks and hands on activities were held in numerous venues in Sydney, including at The Powerhouse Museum, The Australian Museum, The Australian National Maritime Museum, Google, on university campuses and in local libraries. Held over two days, The Sydney Mini-Maker Faire at the Powerhouse Museum was a great success with a chance to explore all kinds of technology inspired action including coding, robotics and biohacking.

The Australian Museum Science Festival this year saw about 6,000 primary and high school students enjoy 300 activities and presentations and experience a rare chance to interact with professional scientists from leading research organisations. Many of these exciting programs were also on offer to the general public during the Museum’s community day at which the Science Expo gave visitors a chance to chat to representatives from research institutions and universities.

Inspiring Australia (NSW) co-hosted several events as part of Sydney Science Festival, including a STEM careers panel at Google for students in years 5-8 that showcased the creative and exciting career paths available to those who pursue STEM studies. Hosted by young mathematician and TV star Lily Serna, the event introduced the audience to several young achievers including an astronomer, a web developer, a medical biotechnologist and computer programmer. You can read each of their inspiring stories in the Sydney Morning Herald:

Another Inspiring Australia (NSW) event looked at creativity in STEM teaching to explore how more creative approaches to classroom learning may help solve Australia’s growing skills shortage. A panel of experts shared their own experiences of working creatively as scientists and teachers and suggested ways in which teachers could bring more creativity to subject delivery despite the rigidity of the school curriculum. An audio recording of this discussion will soon be available from the Sydney Ideas webpage.

With unprecedented media coverage and more audiences than in previous years, this year’s celebrations are sure to have sparked interest in the important place of science and innovation and their relevance to everyday life. We thank everyone for their continued support for this national campaign that will no doubt continue to inspire young people to pursue scientific careers.

Jackie Randles is Manager Inspiring Australia (NSW)