Celebrate Australia’s science heroes virtually

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, National Science Week takes an innovative twist this year, offering a smorgasbord of online events from 15-23 August 2020. NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte thanked the NSW science community for rising to the challenges of lockdown.

“Among imaginative events and programs developed for the community to enjoy online are citizen science experiences, podcasts, innovation challenges, virtual tours, live-streamed panel discussions and science-themed, educational video games,” Professor Durrant-Whyte said.

“Hundreds of scientists are taking the opportunity in Science Week to share their research, discuss why they became scientists and explain how their work helps to solve difficult problems.”

Designed to connect community members with cutting edge science and technology, National Science Week typically reaches thousands of audience members at live events each August.

With 2020 #scienceweek celebrations going online and event topics ranging from bushfires, pandemics, research commercialisation and climate change to biosecurity, biology, art, ecology and nuclear science, it’s expected there will be increased engagement this year.

“I urge everyone to take the opportunity in National Science Week to get to know some of our talented NSW scientists working on critical global challenges: find out how they investigate questions to uncover new knowledge and help solve important problems,” said Professor Durrant-Whyte, adding that National Science Week is an important platform for sparking increased interest in science amongst children and young people.

“With the world looking to science for answers as we face the ongoing challenge of COVID-19, we are well-positioned to inspire the next generation of innovators to consider pursuing STEM careers.”

“We need their energy, curiosity and ingenuity to tackle challenges in areas as broad as health and medicine, food security and agriculture, resources management, population growth, climate and the environment,” he said.

Sydney highlights

The Australian Museum and the Royal Botanic Garden have joined forces with ABC Radio Sydney, ANSTO, Taronga Zoo, universities, scientists and performers to deliver the Sydney Science Trail.

Users can virtually explore digital exhibitions and participate in a range of engaging activities including live streamed talks and demonstrations from world-class scientists, researchers and curators. Download the full program

The Sydney Science Trail’s jam-packed schools’ program, created in partnership with the NSW Department of Education, explores the theme of adaptation through an immersive, curriculum-linked virtual classroom.

Teachers and home-schooling parents can expand their horizons with professional development courses on topics such as incorporating Indigenous perspectives into lesson plans, harnessing outdoor learning activities and many more.

Students can compete against each other in ANSTO’s National Science Week Hackathon and be inspired by an incredible Women in STEM live panel. Download the schools program

ABC Sydney Radio hosts Wendy Harmer and Robbie Buck introduce Sydney Science Trail.

At Sydney Olympic Park, the Innovation Games returns for a fourth year, with professional sporting stars from Sydney Thunder, GWS Giants, Sydney Kings and the Australian Olympic Team attempting to demonstrate science experiments and challenges that fans can try at home.

Hosted by TV presenter, author and STEM communicator Lee Constable, fresh from her stint hosting science program Scope on Network 10, this unique opportunity brings the sports and science worlds together at the iconic location of Sydney Olympic Park.

Events from the regions

Inspiring Australia’s NSW Regional Science Hub network has devised dozens of regional event offerings, bringing a rural perspective to the virtual #scienceweek mix. Take the opportunity to connect with rural science and technology experts through a variety of quality online offerings from across the state.

  • Don’t miss PlantX, developed in the Central West with the Orange, Cowra, Cabonne Science Hub and the NSW Department of Primary Industries, where you’ll discover how scientists monitor plant system health, including pests, diseases and beneficial insects. Try your hand at botanical illustration in live video classes based on plant biosecurity methodologies and led by professional artists. Meet real-life biosecurity warriors who work in plant health sciences & be one too. Collect FREE biosecurity activity packs from Orange, Cowra & Forbes libraries or order for $10. Use your new macrolens in PlantX!
  • Watch a bushfire animation, Friends of Fire, created by Science at the Local in the Blue Mountains to explain the fundamentals of bushfire and climate change.
  • Participate in the Girls Day Out in STEM 2020, coming to you from Port Macquarie to enable girls to gain new skills and opportunities as they connect with STEM professionals.
  • In the Northern Rivers, join a diverse panel when Thursday Night Live! presents Into the deep blue, talking about humans and our interactions with the ocean. Be amazed at Dark Science where artists and scientists contemplate the night, the universe and the wonder of our world.
  • Participate in a wide range of Hunter events including the Electric Vehicle Festival’s mini solar car building competition. Join Curious Cubs to design a marine creature and participate in virtual programs from the Hunter Region Botanic Gardens including at-home botany experiments.
  • From Wagga Wagga, The National Indigenous Science Education Program will be live-streamed into primary school classrooms, this year in partnership  with  Macquarie University, Charles Sturt University Wagga Wagga City Library and Wiradjuri Elders.
  • In Armidale, Science Week will be celebrated via artistic ‘moments’ created in chalk art, text, mini installations and more. Community members will also invited to experience a science themed installation at the Armidale Regional Library.

More regional events

Science podcasts

Get to know more than 40 researchers in three new podcast series:

  • Examine critical issues in ocean innovation with Idea Evolution
  • Discover the inspiration that leads to studies in marine science with UNSW Coral Biologist Associate Professor Tracy Ainsworth in Deep blue on my doorstep
  • Get behind the lens with microbiologists in Getting to Know Your Friendly Neighbourhood Microbiologist.  

More about the podcasts

University events

Researchers from Sydney’s universities are participating in a huge range of events:

  • Channel your personal actions to make more of a difference by participating in an expert panel on climate change.
  • Tune in to FBi Radio at 8.15 every morning from 14 August for Live From The Lab, where Australian artists perform newly commissioned songs or compositions inspired by Australian science.
  • Chill out at Dr Karl’s House Party.
  • Join UNSW x National Science Week for a series of expert talks to learn how better eating can contribute to a healthier world, how we can remove politics from climate change and the global mission to discover life outside our solar system.
  • Check out Western Sydney University events including demos of a self-playing pin-ball machine and how music and maths are intertwined.
  • Go behind the scenes at Young Henry’s brewery in Beer & Algae: Brewing A Greener Future. Learn how scientists have introduced algae to craft beer with surprising results.
  • Participate in a practical discussion, Climate change: what can I do?, that delves into the issues and comes up with solutions to spark personal action on climate change.
  • Learn how to Commercialise research, build industry engagement and boost research impact in this hypothetical forum that unites academics and the private sector to explore how to realise and implement scientific breakthroughs.

More university events

Women in STEM

Be inspired by women working across the STEM disciplines at Soapbox Science.

Join a stellar line up of women in nuclear in webinars where they talk about their careers and reveal the amazing science behind nuclear and radiological technologies that often get a bad rap (thanks Chernoby!).

STEM careers

Increase interest in young people’s interest in STEM studies at these events:

  • Sydney Science Trail Browse the jam-packed schools program exploring the theme of adaptation through an immersive, curriculum-linked virtual classroom.
  • Forum on the Moon Interested in Outer Space? Thinking of getting into the Space Industry? Meet eminent experts who will discuss the ‘NewSpace’ industry.
  • Girls Day Out in STEM 2020 Girls aged 10-14 years are invited to experience this fun, carnival day full of interactive learning experiences with industry leaders in STEM.
  • Science for Food Security Meet passionate young scientists talking about their rewarding work in developing countries and learn how you too can get involved. 
  • #BatteryLow Play cool videogames with scientists and spark interest in STEM.
  • STEM design challenge Build solutions to community problems using science, technology, engineering and maths.
  • Super STEM careers Q and A Find out what a STEM career really looks like, and how to get there with Australia’s Women in STEM Ambassador Prof Lisa Harvey-Smith on Wednesday 19 August. Meet some amazing people with exciting careers in science, tech, engineering and maths, learn how they started their career pathways and get answers to your questions!

Artists talk with scientists

Drop by for Coffee in the studio to engage in online conversations with some of Australia’s most interesting artists and scientists, hosted by artist/scientist Steven Durbach aka Sid Sledge. Discover who they are and what inspires them.

For parents and carers of pre-schoolers

Discover how you can help spark children’s excitement about STEM exploration, in Little Scientists’ three-part interactive, hands-on webinar series designed to build teachers’ and educators’ professional skill sets while also providing valuable information for parents, librarians and other interested members of the community.

Feature image of amphibian bioloist Dr Jodi Rowley demonstrating the Frog ID citizen science app courtesy of Australian Museum. National Science Week runs from 15 – 23 August 2020 and is an initiative of Inspiring Australia, the national strategy for public engagement in science, technology and innovation. Browse more events at scienceweek.net.au. Learn more about Inspiring Australia NSW