Fungi, soil and chromatograms in the Central West

Jar and fungi close up

While we bask in the glow of yet another incredibly successful 2023 National Science Week program in NSW, it is important to remember that STEM engagement doesn’t stop at the end of August.

This is particularly true for the network of Regional Science Hubs in NSW. These Hubs are maintained by multidisciplinary and collaborative teams in regional areas driven to develop and deliver high-profile science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) events in regional areas across the state.

As Chair of the Inspiring NSW Executive Committee, I have undertaken a solemn vow to attend at least one event at each Regional Science Hub during my tenure. I am committed to this not only because I love STEM (and have a keen nine-year-old to entertain), or because I love travelling around the state with my family, but because it is vitally important for the Executive Committee to understand how we can best continue to support the Hubs long into the future.

The first stop on my quest was a visit to Cowra Orange Cabonne Science Hub in the Central West, facilitated by and located at The CORRIDOR Project in Wyangala, to attend the Chromatograms, Soil and Tree Health Workshop. Hosted by Phoebe Cowdery, Creative Director at the CORRIDOR Project, the workshop was delivered by Dr Jordan Bailey, Leader of Plant Pathology Curation at the Orange-based Plant Pathology & Mycology Herbarium at the NSW Department of Primary Industries, and The CORRIDOR Project artist-in-residence Sammy Hawker.

Dr Bailey is absolutely on top of her game; she rattled off facts and stories at a clip that kept perfect pace with a growing interest in fungi from the audience, as Petrie dishes and samples were handed around the crowd.

Sammy Hawker then brought us back to earth and sent us off into the forest to silently collect small samples of soil, trees, mosses, and flowers for the creation of our own chromatograms derived from the pigments contained within the collected sample.

After a lovely lunch with like minds, we returned to the woolsheds to blend and shake our collected samples to prepare them for the printing process. While I had to sadly leave early to rush back to Sydney for work on Monday, Sammy Hawker has kindly agreed to share images of all created chromatograms with workshop participants. The chromatograms will also be exhibited as part of ERTHWRX  for National Science Week 2024.

A perfect blend of art and science, the workshop delivered by the Cowra Orange Cabonne Science Hub at The CORRDIOR Project was a fantastic start to my journey around the state. Well worth the trip from Sydney, it has only whetted my appetite for where I get to go next.

Inspiring Australia NSW would like to establish more of these strategic partnerships across the state and welcomes interest from science, technology and innovation experts, professional organisations, businesses, educational institutions, and community groups.

If you are interested in joining the Hub Network, please contact Meredith Hall, Manager Inspiring Australia (NSW) by email or call 0421 614 145.

Read more on the about the workshop, including testimonials, on The CORRIDOR project website.

Guest post by Emily Jateff, Curator, Ocean Science & Technology Australian National Maritime Museum and Chair of Inspiring NSW Executive Committee.