Food and wine stories in National Science Week: climate change, coffee in space, and robots in wineries

Media bulletins, National Science Week

With more than 2000 planned events around Australia, National Science Week, 10 to 18 August, offers multiple story opportunities. Here are a few ideas for food and wine sections.

VIC: Extrasensory — Parliament House, Melbourne

Extrasensory explores the human senses of sight, smell, taste, touch, hearing and more.

The event combines art installations, performance, storytelling, and experimentation, with food and drink at Victoria’s Parliament House.

Activities and presenters include:

  • Food tasting in different virtual places: does your environment make things taste better?
  • Champagne science workshops with ‘the Culinary Scientist’ and former My Kitchen Rules contestant Emma Donnelly, who has both a science degree and a diploma of champagne science
  • The chemistry of brewing beer to get the right flavour and aroma, with brewer John Helton, who trains beer tasters.

Curator Renee Beale, Emma Donnelly and several other presenters are available for media interviews.

Saturday 10 August Event details

Media contacts: Annika Priest,, 03 9690 7000 or 0413 058 509; Emma Donnelly, 0408 955 234.

VIC: Recipe for disaster – Parkville

NOTE to participants: Due to the nature of the experiment, food allergies can be catered to with advanced notice, but unfortunately not food preferences.

Do you take food for granted? Recipe for Disaster, an interactive performative dinner experiment in the iconic ‘Mad Max’ South Lawn Car Park, which will compel guests to consider this question closely.

Food has the capacity to bring us together. It’s familiar, relational and cultural. In times of conflict and scarcity, it also has the capacity to tear us apart. How food secure are you?

In a world with increasing ecological degradation and greater disparities between the rich and poor, food security is of increasing global concern…a food fight to avoid.

Recipe for Disaster is an interactive performative dinner experiment in the iconic Mad Max South Lawn Car Park at the University of Melbourne. This meal will not be your conventional sit-down hoity-toity dinner, nor is it dystopian in its approach. Instead, it will be a mash-up of food courses, movements and provocations from four food experts – a speculative journey and ‘palaver’ into the future to explore how our myths, anxieties, pleasures, conveniences and comforts around food and diets in the context of a how the climate might change the future.

This is not catering. Food will be experienced, and expectations may be disrupted and/or savoured.

Thursday 15 August Event details

Media enquiries: Ellie Michaelides, or 03 8344 6106

SA: Food and wine in a changing climate — Urrbrae

Climate change will impact the food we eat and the wine we drink. Research is helping to ensure these industries can adapt. Hear from scientists from the University of Adelaide’s Waite Campus in a panel discussion about the science of food and wine in a changing climate.

The food and wine sectors are vital to the South Australian economy. The challenges posed by a changing climate mean science in support of agricultural productivity has never been more necessary.

The Waite Research Precinct has world-renowned capabilities in the science of agriculture, wine, grains, soil and plant breeding. Waite research covers the whole paddock-to-plate value chain – from the soil our crops grow into the plant varieties that can tolerate heat and drought, from better farming and management systems and new production technologies to consumer behaviour and preferences.

Tuesday 20 August Event details

Media contact: Keryn Lapidge, or 0414 600 878

TAS: Eating the problem and the science of brewing: BeakerStreet@TMAG, a pop-up science bar – Hobart

  • ‘Eat the problem’ at Mona’s Invasive Species Cocktail Bar
  • The science of brewing at the Tasmanian Whisky Week distillers bar

With a side serve of science talks and demonstrations:

  • the microbiome of your private parts
  • genetically engineering coral reefs for survival
  • ‘Only technology will save us from ourselves’—experts battle it out in the Radio National Science Friction debate, moderated by Natasha Mitchell
  • technology and game design in a retro videogame arcade
  • Ockham’s Razor Live, with short science talks hosted by Bernie Hobbs.

Plus, the Science Photography Prize, workshops, live music, Tassie food and drink, and more than 100 roving scientists to chat with – all on the menu at BeakerStreet@TMAG, a pop-up science bar at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

Friday 16 to Saturday 17 August Event details

Media enquiries: Margo Adler, or 0468 789 933

VIC: Coffee in space – Melbourne, Bendigo, Shepparton, Mildura, Albury-Wodonga

Ground Control to Major Tom: what does it take to turn an astronaut into a barista? In a fishbowl-style public forum, research scientists will roleplay how they would roast, grind and extract quality coffee in the extremes of space. In a hands-on activity the public tastes and rates coffee with systematically varying particle size distributions, viewed through microscopes.

Public lectures by scientists summarise and extend the science behind coffee. This will be offered at regional venues in Bendigo, Mildura and Shepparton.

This project uses the light-hearted premise of making coffee in space to engage the public in the serious science and technology around space travel.

Multiple dates and locations Event details

Media enquiries: David Hoxley,, 0408 496 625

Video about explaining science through coffee available here

WA: Future climate and food in Western Australia – Gosnells

Western Australia’s climate is changing. Food production, availability and quality will be affected by climate and food producers and consumers will need to continue to adapt.

Explore how the climate has already changed in WA and hear about future predictions.

Learn about the ways local agriculture and water sectors have responded and ponder the idea of what will be on our supermarket shelves in 2050.

Monday 12 August Event details

Media contact: Shane Hunter, or 0448 718 217

ACT: A science cocktail – Acton

What is the chemistry behind your favourite ethanol-based drink?

Experts at the CSIRO’s Discovery Centre explain the science of alcohol, with taste tests, hands-on experiments and public talks. Ticket includes two free drinks per person. This event promotes a responsible consumption of alcohol.

Friday 16 August Event details

Event enquiries: Jillian Browning, or 02 6246 5214

NSW: Bots, Beers and Wine — Pokolbin

Bots, Beers and Wine will be held at the historical Ben Ean winery in the Hunter Valley of NSW. The event will enhance our understanding of how science and technology are having a positive impact on agriculture, advanced manufacturing, robotics and education.

Activities during the night include demonstrations of the science and art of winemaking.

Friday 16 August Event details

Media contact: Scott Sleap,, 02 4990 1977 or 0409 366 504

About National Science Week

National Science Week is one of Australia’s largest festivals, first held in 1997. Last year about 1.2 million people participated in more than 2100 events.

This year will feature parties, music and comedy shows, panel discussions, citizen science opportunities, interactive displays, film nights, open days and online activities.

The festival is proudly supported by the Australian Government; partners CSIRO, the Australian Science Teachers Association and the ABC; and media sponsors including Cosmos, New Scientist and Science Illustrated. More information:

Search for events in your area: More highlights here. Images for media here.

If you’d like to follow up on any of these stories or hear about others that are relevant to your round, get in touch. To receive story alerts in the lead up to and during National Science Week, register here or email  

General media enquiries:

Tanya Ha – or call 0404 083 863

Niall Byrne – or call 0417 131 977 or 03 9398 1416.