Last call for wildlife spotters; innovative kids off to Silicon Valley; and who will win the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science?

ABC projects, Bulletins, Media bulletins

Today: ABC’s Wildlife Spotter project and competition closes at midnight tonight. 

But the project has been so successful that the wildlife spotting will continue at Australian Museum.

“We’ve had reports of northern quolls, foxes stealing malleefowl eggs, wedge-tailed eagles, and ‘lion-like’ dogs,” says Kylie Andrews, coordinator of the project at the ABC.

Scientists are available to talk about the impact of the project, and how it will change their research on how our native wildlife are going in the wild.

Media release below, or contact Ellie Michaelides for interviews on or 0404 809 789.   

Also today: entrepreneurial Victorian kids headed for Silicon Valley.

The innovative kids behind a DIY box-set to teach electronics and programming skills are off to Silicon Valley after winning an entrepreneur competition.

The team of three 13- to 15-year-olds from Melbourne and Bendigo beat two other teams, whose ideas included smart stickers for greener buildings and a virtual reality travel guide, in the TiE Young Entrepreneurs competition.

The program is designed to teach entrepreneurship and business skills to high school students through practical experience and mentoring.

More below, or contact Toni Stevens for interviews on or 0401 763 130.

On now: the stunning restoration of the Macquarie Marshes.
Eighteen amazing wildlife and landscape images showcase the restoration of the Macquarie Marshes in NSW, one of Australia’s most important wetlands, at a gallery in Queenscliff.

The photos were taken by Australian scientist turned photographer, Dr Tom Rayner. View the images and contact Tom for interviews

Coming up in October

We will again be managing the publicity for the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science, which this year includes the inaugural Prize for New Innovators. These awards will be presented by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science at a black tie dinner in the Great Hall of Parliament House in October. More closer to the date.

We’ll also be working with Movember on their phenomenal campaign to improve men’s health.

Kind regards,

Where’s wallaby? Last call for online wildlife spotters

The ABC’s Wildlife Spotter project and competition closes at midnight tonight. But the project has been so successful that the wildlife spotting will continue into the future.

In just one month, 44,000 citizen scientists have classified frogs, feral cats, bettongs, bandicoots, birds, Tassie devils, dingoes, and other animals caught on camera in more than 1.6 million images as part of the ABC’s citizen science project Wildlife Spotter. This breaks the record of last year’s Galaxy Explorer project, which involved 20,000 people helping astronomers classify galaxies far, far away.

Volunteer wildlife spotters have collectively spent more than 16,000 hours assisting scientific research by identifying two million animals in the images.

“We’ve had reports of northern quolls, foxes stealing malleefowl eggs, wedge-tailed eagles, and ‘lion-like’ dogs,” says Kylie Andrews, coordinator of the project at the ABC.

“But there’s still more work to be done, and the competition to win a Go-Pro or a visit from Dr Karl to your school is finishing tonight at 11.59pm. The more images you classify, the more entries you get.”

Anyone with a tablet or computer and an internet connection can join – head to start spotting and identifying the wildlife caught on camera. Once the competition finishes, the Australian Museum will take over the initiative, so that citizen scientists and wildlife lovers can keep helping scientists by spotting animals online.

Ecologists and animal behaviour researchers will use the findings to study the numbers, threats, and behaviour of our unique Australian wildlife, such as endangered bettongs and bandicoots, superb lyrebirds, common wombats, and Tasmanian devils.

“I’m so thrilled with how Wildlife Spotter is working,” says Jess Koleck, coordinator of WWF Australia’s northern bettong monitoring project, one of six projects that have submitted images to Wildlife Spotter.

“Aside from the obvious benefit of having hundreds of thousands of camera trap images identified, it makes me so happy that people from all over Australia are seeing images of and learning about relatively unknown and threatened native mammals.”

“Northern bettongs are such an integral part of their ecosystem, but the plight of these endangered animals is largely unknown to the Australian public. Wildlife Spotter has been a fantastic way to get the broader community involved in what we are doing, helping them get to know this adorable species and hopefully playing a role in its recovery.”

Wildlife Spotter is the online citizen science project for National Science Week 2016, undertaken by the ABC in conjunction with the Australian Museum, Deakin University, Charles Darwin University, NSW Office of Environment and Heritage, Tasmanian Land Conservancy, and WWF Australia. It is supported by funding from the Australian Government Inspiring Australia strategy.

Seventeen ecologists, zoologists, scientists, and science communicators from around the country are available for interviews about Wildlife Spotter.

Read on for information about their projects. Media kit

To organise interviews, contact Ellie Michaelides, 0404 809 789 or 03 9398 1416.

Feedback from citizen scientists

“I’m enjoying the classification – it’s like a treasure hunt!”

“I find this quite engaging…especially in the South Central Victoria set when there was a close up of a goshawk eating something in the picture. Also I feel as if I’m learning to identify animals new to me.”

“It’s been pretty exciting doing this – I’ve seen a dingo chasing frogs in mid leap, a naughty fox digging up a malleefowl nest, and a wedge-tailed eagle taking a luxurious bath. Thank you, I have to say I am enjoying the whole experience.”

“I just identified my first ‘quoll’ in North Qld – stoked!  I told a like-minded family about this initiative on Tuesday and they did 100 photos in the first night alone. I’m glad it’s not just me who is a little addicted! Congratulations and thanks again to everyone involved in creating this program.”

“Some of the images I have seen are truly breathtaking – I feel privileged to be seeing some of these – an echidna and malleefowl side-by-side (almost cuddling!), a quail, a wild dog/dingo cross that had me wondering if it was a lioness (only kidding!).  Honestly, this is so much fun and my husband and two kids jump on and help too.”

“This is a great tool, and generally very easy to use as well as being extremely useful for the monitoring projects – great work!”

The projects you’ll be supporting

  • Bandicoots in south-central Victoria – a pocket of threatened bandicoots are thriving on Victoria’s urban fringes, but how are they doing this? And what happens when they start living in drains and eating out of cat food bowls? Help monitor their population and keep an eye on their predators.
  • Marsupials in Tasmania – Tasmanian Land Conservancy manages about 15 biodiversity reserves to protect these unique species. Help its conservation scientists keep an eye on bandicoots, bettongs, and potoroos—and the threats to them, such as feral cats and deer—so they can better manage these sanctuaries for wildlife.
  • Northern bettongs in Far North Queensland – Australia’s rat-kangaroo is a rare marsupial. Help scientists work out how many of this threatened species are left.
  • Animals in NSW – How many wombats, pademelons, kangaroos, foxes, and other animals are out there? We simply don’t know. Help the ‘WildCount’ scientists find out.
  • Northern Territory’s arid zone – What wild things—such as dingos, emus, lizards, spinifex pigeons, kangaroos, and mice—are living in the arid lands? Counting animals at waterholes in Watarrka National Park and the desert in Kata Tjuta National Park will help scientists manage these biodiversity hotspots.
  • Managing malleefowl – How often are foxes visiting the native malleefowl’s large mound nest of earth and decomposing leaf litter? And how can we help keep them safe?

Read more about these projects at

Entrepreneurial Victorian kids headed for Silicon Valley

  • Smart stickers for greener buildings
  • DIY box-set to teach electronics and programming skills
  • And a virtual reality travel guide that lets you shop in Italy from the couch.

On Saturday the schoolkids behind these three projects pitched their ideas to industry.

And the winning team, who are marketing the DIY box sets, will head to Silicon Valley in January with all expenses paid—visiting Google and other high-tech companies.

It’s the first time Australia has run the TiE Young Entrepreneurs competition – a program designed to teach entrepreneurship and business skills to high school students through practical experience and mentoring.

The students behind these projects, aged between 12 and 17, come from: Box Hill High School; Auburn High School; Mount Waverley Secondary College; Aquinas College; Notre Dame College in Shepparton; and Weeroona College Bendigo.

The winning team is marketing a low-cost boxed set of electronic components to students and hobbyists—with an educational guide to teach customers how to program the equipment. What’s unique about the idea is the educational aspect of teaching programming in addition to the low cost of hardware.

“I’ve been impressed by the enthusiasm of the guys,” says mentor Rod Smith. “They’ve done a great job of working together as a team; they’ve tackled the project with enthusiasm; and have been open to new ideas. I’m very heartened by the whole experience.”

The other teams are:

  • Developing and marketing a small, ‘smart’ sticker that is installed in a windowpane. The sticker measures light levels and temperature, and directs lighting and air-conditioning systems to adjust the levels accordingly in that part of the building, saving electricity costs and automatically regulating the internal climate.
  • Revolutionising retail shopping and tourism by creating a crowdsourced virtual reality travel guide. The guide will be available as an app and a webpage, allowing consumers to immerse themselves in their destination from home using VR headsets—and increasing the exposure of local businesses. They hope that one day they can offer the ability to purchase products from the stores via the app as well.

Even before the final, and the trip to Silicon Valley, the students have gotten a lot out of the training.

“I’ve taken away new skills and the ability to think differently to everyone else,” says student Jackson Landry, from Weeroona College Bendigo, who is working on the electronics project.

The facilitators, mentors, and jury include industry leaders Chris Barlow, Adrian Jobson, Dan Mason, Rod Smith, Saurabh Mishra, Alok Kulkarni, Rosemary Fisher, Mouli Ganguly, Geoff Shiff, and Andrew Demura.

Photos, video, and more information online and

For interviews, contact:

More about Science in Public

We’re always happy to help put you in contact with scientists. Our work is funded by the science world – from the Prime Minister’s Science Prizes to Nature. We’re keen to suggest interesting people and stories – and not just those of our clients.

If you’re looking for ideas or people for features we know hundreds of science prize winners past, present, and future and are always happy to chew the fat about the developing themes in Australian science.

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Kind regards,

Niall Byrne

Creative Director
Science in Public

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