2020 year-round grant recipients

Congratulations to Regional Science Hubs and event partners across NSW that will receive year-round funding and sponsorship from Inspiring Australia NSW to deliver an extraordinary range of engaging science events and programs in 2020.

From pub talks, guided walks and theatrical performances to panels, forums and guest science presentations at popular festivals, community members throughout NSW will continue to have all kinds of opportunities to interact with scientific experts at engaging and welcoming events.

Returning in 2020 will be Science at the Local, Science in the Club and Science at the Pub in Springwood, Armidale and Lismore. Also returning will be Up Lates in Wollongong, Pi in the Sci in East Maitland, The Science Tent at Splendour in the Grass, a second series of elemental nature events on the Coffs Coast and a range of arts and science projects delivered in Penrith, Goulburn, Cowra, Orange, Canowindra and Gunning.

The NSW Executive Committee for Inspiring Australia and National Science Week extends appreciation to the hundreds of organisations and individuals involved in delivering so many wonderful science engagement opportunities across the state.

Science in the Club in Armidale returns in 2020.

Hunter Innovation and Science Hub will present a number of events and activities across the region including:

  • Biodiversity workshops and exhibitions.
  • A Wetland Food Webs mural created by the community across four weekend workshops in September to be displayed at Newcastle Museum as part of broader Biodiversity Month exhibit.
  • Emulating the successful Woo v Spencer event that engaged 2,000 students and community members in a 2-hr session around the value of mathematics and statistics, a second workshop will be presented in 2020 t foster appreciation of the interconnections of science and maths within the STEM paradigm
  • Science in Practice a series of talks and workshops at University of Newastle
  • Mini EV workshops for teachers and adult members of the community as a step towards a STEM-based activity for other events open for the whole community.
  • Pi in the Sci science seminar series hosted at East Maitland Library which brings science to the community.

The Blue Mountains Science Hub will present a new series of Science at the Local events at the Springwood Club and Lithgow Workies including on these topics:

  • March – What the science says on 5G
  • May – OMG: The science of meditation
  • July – 3D printing is so last century
  • September – Describing a new language in Papua New Guinea
  • November – Passing the Pub Test – what our National Interest test means for scientific grant applicants.

The group will also produce at least five podcasts featuring guest speakers over the year. In addition, Science at the Local will deliver special events developed in partnership with local, regional or national organisations with a commitment to inclusive science engagement:

  • The Future of Science Talks. An evening of early career science featuring leading local and national early career researchers.
  • Research for Better Fire Management. A showcase of the NSW Bushfire Research Risk Management Research Hub in partnership with the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.
  • Science West of the Divide: taking Science at the Local over the Great Dividing Range for another two special events in Lithgow, after a successful first series in 2019.

The Nepean Science Hub has planned a new series of seven innovative events presented as part of The Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre’s kids and families program in Penrith, addressing fascinating questions through art, science and storytelling:

  • What does it mean to be human? DNA, biology, coding, animation, VR / animation, gaming
  • What songs tell your story? Sociology, cultural anthropology, linguistics / music, poetry, story telling
  • Is the whole greater than the sum of its parts? Recycling, machines, robotics / puppetry, model making, upcycling
  • How do I live with my neighbour? Robotics, diversity/ music, puppetry
  • How can I learn about friendship through invention? Sustainability, gadgetry, invention, engineering / puppetry, sculpture, story telling
  • What if…? What does imagination bring to the world? Innovation, invention, sustainability / magic, creativity, 3d making and sculpture
  • What will I find in the wild? Wildlife, zoology, sustainability, climate change/ illustration, drawing, puppetry

The New England North West Science Hub’s longstanding Science in the Club event series returns to Armidale with five events planned over the year including science trivia. The 2020 program will see more opportunities for increased interactive engagement with local and visiting scientists. 2020 themes will include:

  • Two Truths, One Lie
  • Science in Action
  • Share your Science.

The international pub science festival Pint of Science will also return to Armidale with a three-night program in May.

The Northern Rivers Science Hub will continue its popular Science in the Pub series in Lismore with six events planned over the year.

In addition, Rising strong will present four special climate science events and there will be a new series of film nights and discussions on offer at Evans Head. In National Science Week the whole community will be welcomed to All age Science at the local library.

The Orange Cowra Cabonne Science Hub has another stellar program of arts/science engagement planned for delivery in the Central West, including a series of workshops and presentations to be held in Orange, Cowra and Cabonne. Makerspace equipment will be on hand for community use including a 3D printer, microscopes and sound and digital recording equipment.

Among events in planning are:

  • A scientist and curator will unite to discuss the historical collections of entomology and plant pathology, and there will be a rare chance to peruse the Department of Primary Industries’ Biosecurity Collections in sessions led by curator Dr Jordan Bailey.
  • Other projects to engage audiences in Indigenous scientific knowledge will include a chance to adopt traditional cultural methodologies and applications in bush medicine and weaving of bark, plants and grasses.
  • A workshop in the field facilitated by Dr Jo Lenehan and sound recordist Kim Goldsmith will explore environmental corridors, soundscapes, plant and bird identification, using innovative monitoring techniques to survey habitat and waterways.
  • A presentation on bioenergy from waste to energy will explore what the future of regional renewables looks like, including trhough the prism of circular economies, new technologies, engineering and microgrids.
  • AI technologies and human futures invites the 3Ai Institute at ANU to present on the broader implications of AI.

The Southern Tablelands Science Hub will present five events and workshop Field Days that will include the production of short films made in partnership with the local Landcare office and scientists from the NSW Department of Planning Industry and Environment.

  • Story craft: participants will learn how to make short documentary films using smartphones with a focus on local threatened species such as the Regent Honeyeater, Superb Parrot, Pygmy Perch, the Southern Bell Frog and the Scarlet Robin. 
  • Sky/Bird Field Day: an opportunity to put the story crafting workshop into action with scientists such as Bradley Moggridge Indigenous Water Scientist and local Landcare champions who are working with conservation in the region. The Department of Planning Industry and Environment will attend to offer information about the local species and their habitats, giving participants opportunities to see the habitats of the local species and experience how technology can assist with conservation efforts of threatened species, using drones and hidden cameras to collect footage for the short documentary films. Participants will be encouraged to attend and film citizen science days such as the Aussie Backyard Bird Count and Working with Frog ID and other citizen science programs.
  • River/Fish Field Day: a day long focus on the waterways and river systems including a survey of frogs and fishes. Bradley Moggridge will return with representatives from Landcare and DoPIE. An underwater photographer will help collect footage that can be used in the films. Participants will be encouraged to work with local conservation groups, DoPIE and Landcare to gather engaging information for their films.
  • Editing and film-making: Digital Storytellers will return for a full day to teach participants how to edit their film footage into high quality short films. Participants will have access to a mobile tech hub and editing facilities as well as drone and underwater footage and will be encouraged to conduct interviews at the Field Days to use as part of their films.

The short films will then be screened locally at The Threatened Species Film Festival, presented in conjunction with the Redfin Fishing Comp in Gunning for children and teens. Films will also be made available online as educational resources to tell local stories of threatened species.

The Coffs Coast Science Hub will present a second series of talks and events that continue its popular elemental nature theme.

  • Water! Our Ocean is Life: To mark World Oceans Day, the National Marine Science Centre (Southern Cross University) will screen the award winning, critically acclaimed documentary “Deepsea Challenge” which documents the historic expedition of the manned submersible Challenger Deep to the Mariana Trench’s lowest point, 11 kilometres below the ocean’s surface. Special guest John Garvin, Sphere internal life-support manager for the expedition, will sit on a panel with knowledgeable and passionate local Marine Scientists to give a first-hand account of this amazing feat and discuss our ocean’s vast range of biological and geological phenomena.
  • Fire! Harvesting the Sun: A forum on the element of fire within the context of our mitigation responses to climate change. What are the latest opportunities in electric vehicles, battery banks for PV and the potential to redistribute power locally? Scientists and industry specialists will provide the science of energy innovation, how it works and what are the options available for community participation.
  • Earth! Art from the Earth: The discovery of elements such as cobalt, cadmium and chromium in the 1700s and early 1800s led to the creation of “new” artistic materials that changed the European art world. But humans have been using minerals – ochre, clay, charcoal – for thousands of years to create art. This workshop will invite participants to learn and experiment with colours from the earth, guided by a geologist and a ceramicist.
  • Air! Mapping the Air: Our local coast has been an important seasonal migratory destination for birds and humans for Millennia – from migratory muttonbirds to seasonal migrations of the original Aboriginal inhabitants through to modern sea-changers. This workshop will provide the opportunity to map both natural and personal migrations and is the first public event for The White Bluff Project, a multidisciplinary Art + Science collaboration. Participants of all ages are invited to scientifically and creatively trace their journeys through the air with an ornithologist, a poet and a Gumbaynggirr artist.
  • Spirit! Science of the Mind: Mindfulness and meditation practice has become so popular that it is even being taught in our schools and workplaces. But does it really work to strengthen our emotional/physical well-being? What does the science say? This public forum will include an interactive presentation from a neuro-scientific researcher and a mindfulness meditation teacher that will answer participants’ questions about how and if science can inform their spiritual practice and emotional well-being.

The Paterson Allyn Williams Science Hub plans to run between up to ten engagement programs for the community over the year including :          

  • Breathe Easy: foods & lung inflammation: Professor Lisa Wood, School of Biomedical Science and Pharmacy Faculty of Health and Medicine, and Dr John Fitter, Senior Research Officer and Laboratory Research Manager for the Mothers & Babies Research Centre, both from University of Newcastle.
  • River valley life: Flora and fauna of the Williams Valley including aquatic life and rare and endangered species. Andrew Steed, Biodiversity & Conservation, Dept of Planning, Industry & Environment & Dr Bruce Chessman will be doing field research in the Williams Valley and will do a presentation on their findings. 
  • Brain speak: neurological health & ageing: Neuroscience of ageing with Dr Bronwyn Aspinall.
  • Closed loop living festival: a series of workshops, films, tastings, talks and a Field Day with local businesses, Sustaining Williams Valley, Boomerang Bags and Hunter Local Land Services.
  • Natural Illustration workshop and Field Day.
  • Dungog Radio will celebrate science week wiht a series of broadcasts.
  • A series of National Science Week events will be presented to address climate change issues with a focus on actions for local solutions, for example, climate science projections for local weather; economic implications; fire management in agriculture & forestry and MLA research on the use of biocharcoal in livestock rations for animal productivity and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Rainforest vectors at Tabbil Forest: How do Rainforest vectors create a healthy forest? With Dr Peggy Eby & Amy Rowles.
  • Into the Night Forest: A guided walk with torchlight talks and performances to collaborate in citizen science activities relevant to the Dungog region.

The Riverina Science Hub have planned a series of workshops and talks providing information on how to reduce your ‘carbon footprint’. Aimed at 18-35 year olds, climate scientist Ben Holt will provide participants with the skills they need to measure offset and reduce their environmental impact.

Other events planned include:

  • A regional Science Fair: a public presentations of science projects produced by local secondary students.
  • Science @ Spring Jam: the King and Queen of Green Sustainability will present environmental theatre to teach audiences about what a carbon footprint actually is and discuss how differing elements of contemporary life style contribute to it.
  • Code Makers workshop series for families.

The Sapphire Coast Regional Science Hub will focus on climate change mitigation, adaptation and survival in 2020. After the devastating bushfires in the region in 2018, the community has taken important steps towards responding appropriately with science-based decision making. The Bega Valley Shire Council has declared a climate emergency and is developing a draft climate resilience strategy. With this in mind the following events are intended to educate and engage the community:

  • Atlas of Life in the Coastal Wilderness will present a triple-A citizen science event that will bring local experts and community together to explore biodiversity and climate change.
  • Bega Local Aboriginal Lands Council Cultural Burning in partnership with Caring for Country will engage local youth in a cool burn.
  • Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre will present an Earth Antiquities Roadshow at which members of the public can bring in their bones, fossils, rocks and mystery “thingies” to be identified by experts. This event combined with its focus on climate change science will illustrate the range of evidence for how human activities have contributed to global warming.
  • The Festival of Open Minds returns with a unique opportunity to showcase the “people with oomph” that drive local science engagement activities, including Dr Ceridwen Fraser who will present her research on the climate effects on kelp.
  • Ride for Science: the Bega Tathra Safe Ride NSW Bike Week Community will give science a mobile, active transport, clean energy platform that will focus on wellbeing, greenhouse savings and medical science – all positive community health outcomes.

The Macarthur Science Hub will present a series of events at the Australian Botanic Garden at Mount Annan including:

  • The Science of PlantBank: an opportunity to the local and regional community to engage with our scientists and researchers in a relaxed atmosphere.
  • Halloween PlantBank Party: A Halloween style fun day packed full of science activities for kids.
  • Stars over the Garden: The beautiful night sky over the Botanic Garden will provide an excellent opportunity for star-gazing, combining the Western approach presented by the Australian Astronomical Observatory and ancient knowledge and stories of the Aboriginal peoples. 
  • The Great ABG Egg Hunt: a family day over Easter will seek to engage new audiences with science.
  • Sow and Share: a family event produced in cooperation with the Community Greening team will take Harmony Day as an occasion to present work with local communities from all backgrounds, showcasing the work of local science and sustainability groups. 

The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney will present a stellar lineup of science experiences in 2020 including:

  • An Evening With 500 Queer Scientists; short talks from scientists from the LGBTQI the community, on how their experience in science and academia has shaped their outlook on work, life and community.
  • Murder in the Garden: an event designed to bring new audiences to the Gardens to showcase the work of its scientists in a new way and raise the profile of the vital science, research and conservation projects underway. All this through the innovative format of a murder mystery night involving a botanic twist and forensic analysis!
  • Science Trail: Macquarie University Advances Science Students collaborate with RBG Education and Scientists to create six interactive science stations as part of their studies.
  • A series of astronomy evenings at The Calyx, a beautiful building in the heart of the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.
  • An evening of science and music at The Calyx featuring a short talk by Carnivorous Plant expert Greg Bourke on the science of carnivorous plant evolution and adaptations. Then, musicians curated by Musica Viva will perform works that link to the plants’ origins from around the globe.

Science Space in Wollongong will present five events as part of its popular Up lates series:

  • Unravelling our Universe: Using its leading edge digitally immersive planetarium, Science Space will screen a double premier of a visually stimulating immersive musical experience called Unravelling our Universe. Produced by a University of Wollongong student studying Creative Arts this feature by Juliet Gobran will be seen by the public for the first time.   
  • Family up late: Celebrate International Star Wars day via a wide range of science fiction fun and activities in the Science Space after dark.
  • Science of Beer: Over the last few years Wollongong has seen a number of craft breweries pop up and so we would have a show case event which would be initiated with a presentation by some of the local brewers and explore the chemistry and science involved in their craft
  • Family up late: Celebrate Halloween at the Science Space Spookfest with a host of spooky activities that explore some of the science behind being afraid and the effect on our senses.
  • Science of Surfing: join Prof. Marc Panhuis for a scientific surf board analysis looking at the development of 3D printed fins. This will be followed by a leading board shaper who will discuss the progression and technology of surf board manufacture before inviting the audience to move to the exhibition where a selection of surf related interactives stations would be mixed among the interactive exhibition.

Ocean Lovers Festival

Inspiring Australia will support the Ocean Lovers Festival to create a new science space at its popular 3-day community event planned for delivery at Bondi Beach in March 2020. The program will feature a line up of thought-provoking speakers and hands-on science workshops that will address marine ecosystems, sustainability, emerging technologies, cinematography and the intersection of STEM and the arts.

All activities in the science space will be designed for a wide audience from a variety of backgrounds, with some presentations will be live-streamed to connect with people off-site.

A dedicated children’s engagement area will have water science and sustainability stations as well as scheduled science shows & STEM craft activities. Adults will enjoy learning about the oceans as they explore the use of underwater drones, bioplastics, waste art installations and get the chance to meet eco-pioneers, oceanographers, ecologists, change-makers and more. 

Science Tent at Splendour

Inspiring Australia will again join the arts music festival Splendour in the Grass to present an engaging Science Tent program featuring scientists addressing topical themes of interest to festival goers. Presented for the fourth year running, The Science Tent offers an immersive opportunity for 135,000+ festival goers and a chance for them to interact with scientists at the popular 4-day event held each year near Byron Bay.    

The Science of Food

Inspiring Australia will support a program of food related science in a series of outside labs and classrooms. The Science of Food is a new, free, family and community event planned for delivery at the Australian Botanic Garden Mount Annan. The event aims to enhance the public’s perception of science and to encourage young people into STEM careers.

By Jackie Randles, Manager Inspiring Australia NSW. The NSW Regional Science Grants program supports the delivery of public engagement events involving science and technology experts. The next grant round will be open in March 2020 and is intended to support NSW Regional Science Hubs to deliver events to celebrate National Science Week in August.