Delving into the science of death and decay

What is the science behind something people don’t like to talk about: death?

Two free events in the Illawarra explore this theme. The Science of Death: Life and Death in the Rainforest is a family event on Saturday 3 June, and The Science of Death: Trivia Night all about death and pathology, at Wiseman Bowling Club on evening of Monday 5 June, is open to all.

The ideas for the events came from the curious minds of Juliet Scrine CEO of Eton Gorge Theatre Company and Michael Connor, former education officer of the Wollongong Botanic Garden.

“Death always has a macabre feeling about it,” Scrine said, “and we thought that it would be interesting to explore the science behind the thing we don’t like to talk about. EGTC do a lot of work around waste and decomposition and have discovered how important green waste is as a resource, so that is where the idea of our day in the rainforest came from.”

Michael Connor spent his career engaging young people in the science of nature and has designed a fantastic interactive family event about the life cycle of growth and decay in a remnant of rainforest in the biologically diverse grounds of the Girl Guides Camp on Mount Keira, overlooking Wollongong.

“Most of us appreciate the beauty and thrill of the living creatures in the forest; the plants and animals and even the glorious fungi. But this isn’t the end of the story, because dying here offers an opportunity for new life and an appreciation of the wonders of the important role of decomposition in nature” Connor said.

The Life and Death in the Rainforest event will include environmental games, tasks, and activities, together with a rainforest walk, bush crafts and the opportunity to grow a native plant to take home.

Michael Connor has a great passion for nature and a commitment to outdoor education. He is an experienced teacher for all ages in the areas of Horticultural and Botany together with History and English. Michael is in his element when running interactive sessions in forests and other natural settings. He also has a love of the dramatic, often employing his talent for acting and characterisation to engage and audience to explore environmental themes. For many years Michael could often be spotted roving the Botanic Garden as larger-than-life characters such as Captain Compost, Dr Cactus, or The Honking Daffodil.

The second event, The Science of Death Trivia Night, is a fun way of exploring the serious side of life, death. A guest presenter from the NSW Police forensic team will start the night with the facts of what happens at a crime scene. This will be followed with questions exploring the methods used in forensic science and dispel the myths associated with forensic investigation as seen on TV.

“We are all avid Murder Mystery and CSI watchers and thought it would be very interesting to explore the science of what really happens to a human body after we die, so that is where the trivia night idea came from” say Juliet.

Participants will be able to test their knowledge of what happens when we pass on, whether it be murder or natural causes. There will be questions and answers about autopsy, forensics and what happens to our bodies when the light goes out.

Eton Gorge Theatre Company encourage people to get a team together and come to the Bistro Section of the Wiseman Park Bowling Club, for a night of science, interesting facts and a lot of laughs.

The Science of Death: Life and Death in the Rainforest
Date: 11am to 12pm, Saturday 3 June 2023
Location: Girl Guide Campsite, 333 Mount Keira Rd, Mount Keira NSW 2500

The Science of Death: Trivia Night
Date: 6.30 to 8.30pm, Monday 5 June 2023
Location: Wiseman Park Bowling Club, 1 Foley St, Gwynneville NSW 2500

The Science of Death series is supported by Inspiring NSW.