Share ideas at a Lightning Lunch

Brought to you by Inspiring Australia NSW, Refraction Media and Fizzics Education, STEM Lightning Lunches are an opportunity to talk about your engagement programs, meet thought leaders in the STEM space, speak to like-minded people and come up with collaborative practise in STEM programs.

Listen to 5-minute lightning talks, and then join small meeting rooms to spark up a conversation with someone working in STEM outreach, research, marketing, education & more. Alternatively, just drop by to join a conversation in small, speed networking groups.

On the heels of the success of the recent 3-part Virtual Excursions training program that concluded with live networking sessions in small breakout rooms, Heather Catchpole from Refraction Media and Ben Newsome from Fizzics Education saw an opportunity to keep the momentum going through regular online catch ups for the STEM engagement community.

“The 2020 lockdown has had pervasive impacts on small businesses and programs in the STEM space, and yet we know that it’s from this space that innovation will allow us to face major global challenges in the future,” said Heather, adding that the aim of these online networking lunches is to keep people who may be working in isolation connected.

“With networking opportunities effectively shut down, we’re looking to engage SMEs together with industry and education sectors to work together to drive business and collaboration.”

Alongside Inspiring Australia NSW’s Manager Jackie Randles, whose community partners and national networks participated in Virtual Excurions training, Heather and Ben hope these lunches will bring together those working in industry and university STEM outreach programs as well as interested educators, freelancers, SMEs and NGOs with common interests. 

“We found that there was huge interest in the Virtual Excursions training program we recently ran. It brought all kinds of people from across the country. Many had worked together in the past – but most had not have connected since COVID-19, so there was a huge interest in sharing ideas,” said Ben.

The Virtual Excursions training series coordinated by Inspiring Australia NSW was supported by the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer and Inspiring Australia’s state programs in NSW, WA, QLD, SA, the ACT and the NT to help STEM engagement presenters rapidly transition to online environments.

Heather said many participants had similar problems despite being geographically dispersed as well as common ambitions and synergies in their programs.  

“We could see that they wanted to extend on the networking side of the training to enable increased collaboration and business opportunities,” she added.

Upcoming sessions

The final Virtual Excursions online training session on Thursday 21 July 2020 will present an opportunity for engagement presents to give and receive feedback on their online event proposals, putting everything learned in training Modules 1 & 2 into practice in 10 minute practice sessions. Learn more here

The first Lightning Lunch will take place the following week, from 12-1pm, Wednesday 29 July. Learn more here

How a Lightning Lunch works

In physical environments networking happens most effectively in small groups. By keeping meeting rooms small in these virtual lightning lunches, and keeping talks brief, Lightning Lunches will both inspire and facilitate connection. And with participants right there at their computers, follow up is instantaneous and things can happen really quickly!

Get involved!

If you’d like to join a Lightning Lunch, send a short paragraph of your lightning talk idea to

  • If you’re doing your talk, be ready to respond to people who might have offers of help or advice!
  • If you’re coming along to listen, be prepared with your offers of help!
  • Have an ask – what are two things you’d like to get help with?
  • Be conversational – introduce yourself, share your asks, help us to AMPLIFY STEM.

What can you bring to the table to help others?

  • Mentoring
  • Advice
  • Connections
  • Exposure
  • Friendliness

Who should go?

  • STEM communicators
  • Educators (teachers/Career Advisors/Librarians)
  • Tertiary sector (researchers, lecturers and student recruitment / marketing)
  • Industry
  • Outreach and event organisers
  • Corporate recruiters with an interest in the STEM talent pipeline.

By Jackie Randles, Manager Inspiring Australia NSW. Lightning Lunches are an initiative of Inspiring Australia NSW, Refraction Media and Fizzics Education. They follow on from the successful Virtual Excursions training program presented by Inspiring Australia’s state programs.