Congratulations to the fifteen finalists competing in the Science Engagement category at Australia’s leading science awards, the 2021 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes. This year’s AM Eureka Prizes will presented online on Thursday 7 October. The Science Engagement category celebrates important contributions to science through citizen science and journalism, with five prizes up for grabs.
Nominated initiatives bring increased public awareness to a range of pertinent topics including STEM inclusion, diversity, early childhood education, vaccines, conservation and micro plastics.
Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources Eureka Prize for STEM Inclusion
- Little Scientists Australia
Child-led, play-based exploration in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is at the heart of Little Scientists Australia’s philosophy. Its hands-on professional development ensures that early childhood educators can proficiently support children in discovering scientific phenomena. With a national network of skilled facilitators, the program aims to make inquiry-based learning accessible to all children.
- STEM Enrichment Academy, Flinders University
Lasers, Lego and robots – the STEM Enrichment Academy makes learning enjoyable by tapping into natural curiosity. Its inclusive programs have reached hundreds of girls in South Australian schools, reversing attitudes on the difficulty of STEM and driving participant enrolment in year 11 STEM subjects well above the national average.
- Corey Tutt and Team DeadlyScience
Driven by the belief that “you can’t be what you can’t see,” Corey Tutt and Team DeadlyScience are committed to increasing STEM participation among Indigenous Australians. Together, they have provided thousands of culturally appropriate science resources to schools in remote communities and connected nearly 10,000 young Indigenous people with mentors.
Celestino Eureka Prize for Promoting Understanding of Science
- Dr Niraj Lal, Australian National University and Australian Energy Market Operator
Science communication at its best showcases the wonders of our universe while sparking critical thinking. Dr Niraj Lal excels at both. Through mediums including prime-time television, ground-breaking podcasts and a popular children’s book about gravity, he has increased understanding and appreciation of science among Australians of all ages.
- Professor Veena Sahajwalla, UNSW
Professor Veena Sahajwalla is Australia’s top expert on materials sustainability. Through her ‘microrecycling science,’ she is delivering end-user awareness and solutions to waste, recycling and manufacturing challenges. Her research and advocacy, combined with dedicated industry and community collaboration, is shifting the mindset to see end-of-life products not as waste, but a vital resource.
- Associate Professor Adriana Vergés, UNSW and Sydney Institute of Marine Science
In a world defined by human impacts and unprecedented environmental change, entire ecosystems are at risk. The science communication and community engagement efforts of marine ecologist Associate Professor Adriana Vergés are supported by rigorous scientific evidence, providing a powerful narrative that conveys the feasibility of recovering and rebuilding marine ecosystems.
Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources Eureka Prize for Innovation in Citizen Science
- AUSMAP, Total Environment Centre and Macquarie University
The Australian Microplastic Assessment Project (AUSMAP) is a world-first, national citizen science program that empowers people of all ages to document microplastic pollution. An immersive experience, participants are educated on the prevalence of microplastics around our waterways and trained to collect scientifically valid data that is used to design effective mitigation strategies for plastic pollution.
- EchidnaCSI Team, University of Adelaide; and Pelican Lagoon Research and Wildlife Centre
Echidnas are one of Australia’s most iconic species, yet fundamental questions about their biology and ecology remain unanswered. The Echidna Conservation Science Initiative (EchidnaCSI) combines innovative community-based research with molecular and ecological approaches. The project has generated unprecedented data and samples at a national level, providing new insights into echidna biology and conservation.
- Team SWAQ, UNSW
Schools Weather and Air Quality (SWAQ) is the first school-based, comprehensive atmospheric monitoring network in Australia. With research-grade sensors deployed across schools in metropolitan Sydney, it provides real-time, publicly accessible, local meteorology and air quality data that can be used in science and maths curriculum-aligned classroom activities.
Finkel Foundation Eureka Prize for Long-Form Science Journalism
Psychedelic drugs may one day transform the treatment of intractable mental illnesses such as deep depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. But how much do we know about these stigmatised substances and their ‘mystical’ effects? In Love and Fear, Kate Cole-Adams plots the opportunities and risks as we move towards an Australian model of psychedelic mental health. Published by Griffith Review, 4 May 2021.
Dr Dyani Lewis
In 2020, a little-known field of science was behind pandemic policies that upended life as we knew it. In Role Models in a Time of Pandemic, Dr Dyani Lewis explains how the fledgling discipline of mathematical disease modelling grew into the influential field it is today. Published by Cosmos, 4 June 2020.
Dr Jackson Ryan, CNET
In Journey to the Dragon Palace, Dr Jackson Ryan follows the Japanese Space Agency as it plans to return ancient asteroid samples to outback Australia. The culmination of a decade-long mission across the solar system, this story is the result of unrivalled access to the scientists who made the historic return possible against incredible odds and during a global pandemic. Published by CNET, 17 March 2021.
Six “Sleek Geeks” have been selected in the School Science category at Australian Museum Eureka Prizes. Finalists in this category were selected based on their short video submissions on a scientific concept of their choosing, with films covering everything from super volcanoes to square cube law.
Attend the awards ceremony
All welcome to join the celebrations online!
Event details: Australian Museum Eureka Prizes
When: 6.45pm, Thursday 7 October 2021
Register to attend: australian.museum/eurekaprizes
Feature image from UNSW’s Team SWAQ, the first school-based, comprehensive atmospheric monitoring network in Australia.