Year-round science grants announced

Families across New South Wales will again be wowed by the wonders of science in a diverse range of community-led events in 2017. Inspiring Australia NSW has awarded more than $80,000 in funding to a network of Regional Science Hubs to host activities and events throughout the year that engage their local communities in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

A total of 102 new events will be held across the year in Sydney, the Hunter, Illawarra, Far South Coast, Riverina, Central West, New England/North West, Northern Rivers and Southern Tablelands. And there’s something for everyone!

From coding clubs in Wagga Wagga and a renewable energy rock and roll adventure at Tathra, to exploring the world of carnivorous plants in the Blue Mountains and studying indigenous astronomy with the Wiradjuri People in Cowra; examining the science of bushfires at a new Festival of Flame in the Illawarra; and knitting neurons to learn about mind and brain health on the Southern Tablelands.

The Science Hubs play a vital role in raising STEM awareness. With 23 Regional Science Hubs in place across NSW that are producing high quality year-round activities and events, thousands of people are exposed to science in informal settings. Science Hubs rely heavily on enthusiastic volunteers from a range of backgrounds, working together to come up with creative ideas for informative and entertaining events that both inspire and engage their local communities – and they have been very successful over the years.

NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer, Professor Mary O’Kane, has paid tribute to the people behind the Hubs.

“This has been a great grassroots campaign to raise awareness – particularly among our young people, who are the workforce of the future – about science, technology, engineering and maths, and their importance to our everyday lives,” Professor O’Kane said.

Inspiring Australia NSW is a joint initiative of the Commonwealth and NSW Governments.

2017 grant recipients

  • City Recital Hall will present This Sounds Like Science, a series of five free lunch time talks co-curated with Inspiring Australia that bring top researchers on stage with performing artists.
  • The Cowra Cabonne Science Hub will deliver five public events across region that bring the Wiradjuri community together with astronmers, botanical, ceramicists and scientists. The series will conclude with a regional STEM forum.
  • The Blue Mts Botanic Garden at Mt Tomah will host a new event series is to boost visitation and showcase a wide range of science explored by researchers working in the region including at the Australian Plantbank and Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.
    The Blue Mountains Science Hub will present the third in the popular Science at the Local series to engage community members with top scientists speaking about topical issues at the Springwood Sports Club. A series of podcasts will also be developed and published on the Science at the Local website.
  • In the Illawarra region the Wollongong Science Centre will continue its popular adult event series where the community can enjoy science talks followed by drinks and canapes. The Eaton Gorge Theatre company will also again join forces with the Wollongong Botanic Garden to present a series of events to raise awareness about fire prevention in partnership with local fire authorities, conservationists and circus performers. A Festival of Fire will help make the people of the Illawarra Fire Ready and locals will learn the secrets of propagation as they grow their own Waratahs.
  • The Riverina Science Hub’s 2017 series in Wagga Wagga the will again take science and technology to unexpected places, including via free coding workshops at the library.
  • The Patterson Allyn Williams Science Hub will offer eclectic community events that bring local scientists together with community members to explore sustainability, agriculture, film making and technology.
  • The Sapphire Coast Science Hub continues its broad collaboration with music, pub nights and entertainment adding to a diverse program that includes science careers, a High Voltage Rock and Roll performance looking at the renewable energy economy and Matchmaking in the Digital Age.
  • The Hunter Innovation and Science Hub brings the region’s STEM stakeholders together to present a strong line up of events looking at topics from astronomy, statistics and conservation to post mining land use and the science of beer at the Foghorn Brewery.
  • The New England North West Science Hub will host the international Pint of Science Festival in Armidale in May 2017 with three themes planned over three nights: Atoms to Galaxies, Our Body and Planet Earth. A second Science in the Club series will also be on offer at the Imperial Hotel.
  • The newly established Southern Tablelands Science Hub will bring science to new audiences in community venues in Goulburn and Picton including by bringing science knowledge and scientists into the region’s major regional arts festival illuminARTe. Neural Knitworks workshops will bring brain health researchers together with community members to create neural inspired artworks and a Nerd Knights themed film night will encourage young people into STEM careers.
  • The Northern Rivers Science Hub will again use its successful science walks and talks format to promote research by local science experts and engage the community in local issues that touch on innovation, education, and STEM – including controversial topics in regional Northern NSW.
  • The Western Sydney Science Hub now includes the developers of Sydney Science Park, the Penrith Regional Gallery and the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, who join forces with founding partners Penrith South Public school and Hawkesbury Institute for the Environment. A new event series at The Joan will target new audiences in the region with science and art themed events, including classic science fiction film screenings introduced by a scientist.