Sydney Science Trail draws over 19,000 visitors to celebrate 2023 Science Week

Young boy looking at a butterfly

More than 19,000 families, visitors and NSW school children took part in over 90 different science activities across 14 – 20 August, when two of the nation’s leading science institutions, the Australian Museum (AM) and Botanic Gardens of Sydney (Botanic Gardens) partnered for the Sydney Science Trail (SST).

Part of National Science Week 2023, SST delivered one of the largest science festivals in the country, with support from the Australian Government, the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) and the University of New England (UNE). The program featured school excursions, two community days and an online trail.

Young girl looking through a microscope
© 2023 Australian Museum – Photo David Swift Photography

Five days of school excursions involving visits to the AM and Royal Botanic Gardens engaged 1,777 students and educators from 35 schools and homeschool networks and families. Schools travelled from as far as the Blue Mountains to the west, Warilla to the south and Port Macquarie to the north, to engage directly with leading scientists and educators for interactive STEM workshops, panel discussions, science shows, site tours and a Science Expo of 26 stalls with hands-on demonstrations.

Through the generous support of the AM Foundation and the Neilson Foundation, A Day at the Museum supported 400 eligible students, mostly from Western Sydney, to attend. A new Diverse Learners Day designed for groups requiring a more flexible timetable or higher educator to student ratios also proved popular and was fully booked out by home educators, homeschool networks and student support units.

Women showing family rocks and minerals
© 2023 Australian Museum – Photo David Swift Photography

The AM threw open its doors on Saturday 19 August for a free SST community day, offering science activities for everyone. Incredibly, 7,536 people visited the Museum – up 78% from last year’s community event!

Women demonstrating a science experiment on a stage
© 2023 Australian Museum – Photo David Swift Photography

The jam-packed program included Creative Science shows, appearances from the AM’s resident dinosaur, Winny the Muttaburrasaurus , T-Rex autopsy performances, ghost net weaving, frog origami, Bugtastic activities featuring live insect displays, and Q&A with the ever-popular Dr Karl.

Plus, the spectacular Science Expo showcased 20 organisations demonstrating everything from DNA extraction and a superconducting Mobius track, to native bees and a wave machine.

Cutting-edge research from the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI) was on show with talks by Dr Helen Smith and Dr Elena Kupriyanov, a Conservation Care and Collection team pop-up display, and AMRI stalls in the Expo including the AM’s FrogID citizen science project.

Women showing the Frog ID Project to young boys
© 2023 Australian Museum – Photo David Swift Photography

In South West Sydney on Sunday 20 August, 9,803 visitors flocked to the Australian Botanic Gardens’ (ABG) SST Community Day at Mount Annan – almost double the number of people that took part in the 2022 event.

People outside on a lawn looking at a stage
Community Day visitors on the lawn in front of the National Herbarium of NSW. Credit Glenn Smith Photography

With the aim of engaging people of all ages with the power of plants and inspiring careers in botanical science, the day featured over 20 science stalls and behind-the-scenes tours of ABG’s world-leading botanical science and horticultural facilities.

Fizzics Science Show. Credit Glenn Smith Photography

Hands-on activities included creating seed pods for AirSeed’s pilot program to regenerate flood-affected land in NSW via drone planting, extracting DNA from plants with botanists, learning about First Nations knowledge on bush food walks, and viewing incredible botanical science illustrations as part of the 2023 international Margaret Flockton Award. Feedback showed that 95 percent of visitors learned something new about science!

Dr Karl with The Gum Trees. Credit Glenn Smith Photography

To expand the reach of SST beyond Sydney, a free online trail was also developed. Available until mid-September, SST online presents content from top scientists at the AM, Botanic Gardens, and partners UTS and UNE. Here, students and families can explore science videos and podcasts, and learn through an online quiz.

Featuring 22 new content hotspots, the online trail covers everything from a day in the life of a herpetologist to exploring what MicroCT scanning involves. You can also listen back to the SST Talking Science events, where leading scientists talk about their work. Take a closer look at: