ABC projects

We help the ABC from time to time. This includes publicity for their annual National Science Week online mass participation projects, such as:

  • 2021 – Hoot Detective
  • 2020 – Carbon Counter
  • 2019 – The Aha! Challenge
  • 2018 – Virtual Reef Diver
  • 2017 – Australia’s Biggest Smartphone Survey
  • 2016 – Wildlife Spotter

MEdia releases below. For media enquiries, to organise interviews, or for more information about Hoot Detective:

Australians find owl hunting good for science and soul under lockdown

12,000 Powerful, Barking, Boobook, Barn, and Masked owl calls found so far

Media contacts: Ben Keirnan, or 0408 184 858; or Tanya Ha, or 0404 083 863.

Is that a dog barking? Or a Barking owl?

Hundreds of Australians have found thousands of owl calls by listening to short recordings made in nature reserves. 

They’re helping researchers identify and map native Australian owl species through the Hoot Detective project.

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Can you find the owls in the night? Researchers recruiting Hoot Detectives

Nationwide project aims to map Australia’s favourite predator birds

Media contacts: Ben Keirnan, or 0408 184 858; or Tanya Ha, or 0404 083 863.

A Barking owl fluffing its feathers, or ‘floofing’. Credit: Dr Nick Hamilton

“I heard the owl scream and the crickets cry.” Macbeth, William Shakespeare.

Is that an owl hooting? Or a car?

Researchers are after volunteers to help map five native Australian owl species, by listening to short recordings made in the bush. 

The results will provide important information about the range and numbers of these beloved birds of prey. They will also help researchers develop artificial intelligence (AI) systems to use in a new field of science, known as “eco-acoustics”.

The project is called Hoot Detective, and is produced by ABC Science in collaboration with the Australian Acoustic Observatory (A2O) for National Science Week. It will commence online on Monday 9 August at and run until the end of August.

The idea is to hunt for Powerful, Barking, Boobook, Barn, and Masked owls. For more about each species, visit

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How do you feel about climate change?

Researchers want to know

Talent available for interview and quotes

Does cutting your contribution to climate change also improve your mental health? Researchers want to know how you’re dealing with eco-anxiety.

The public health scientists – from Melbourne’s Deakin and Monash universities – are exploring how bad news about the environment brings us down and whether taking even small actions on climate change boosts our mental health.

To find out, they are asking people to take a survey which aims to understand the mental health impacts of climate change.

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How much carbon will you pledge to save this National Science Week?

See how much carbon you could save with just one small change and join our national online challenge to cut carbon emissions.

Media release: Wednesday 12 August

Put on a jumper when you’re cold, cut your shower time, eat roo or fish instead of beef, cycle instead of driving. These are some of the small changes that you, your household or your school can adopt to reduce your carbon footprint.

Sign on at Carbon Counter, a countrywide challenge produced by the ABC Science for National Science Week. See what savings your lifestyle hacks will make and pledge to make a difference.

The Carbon Counter project – which launches onWednesday 12 August– invites individuals, households and schools to pledge small changes to day-to-day energy, food and transport use with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas production.

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Searching for insight? Maybe get into nature

Early results from Australia-wide experiment suggest being outdoors can be a good way to trigger “aha” moments.

People are most likely to have a sudden bright idea when out in the bush – or lying in bed.

That’s one of the early observations arising from The Aha! Challenge, the month-long Australia-wide science experiment that kicked off during National Science Week and runs until the end of August.

The experiment, which revolves around a series of online brainteasers, aims to explore sudden bursts of clarity and insight, and their role in problem-solving. In effect, it’s a nationwide quest to find the things that make you go “aha!

And so far the results have been very revealing.

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National challenge seeks to get inside your head

Researchers set up Australia-wide experiment to explore why and when the pennies drop.

Scientists want to know the things that make you go “aha!”.

Throughout August, researchers from the University of Melbourne are conducting a country-wide citizen science project to better understand how the human brain works.

The focus of the project, dubbed The Aha! Challenge, is to investigate the kind of sudden problem-solving insight that makes you spontaneously exclaim “yes!” or “at last!” or, indeed, “aha!”. It’s the ABC’s community project for National Science Week.

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Aussie citizen scientists unite to help the Great Barrier Reef

Citizen scientists from around Australia are helping scientists and reef managers get a much better picture of the health of the Great Barrier Reef.

So far, they have looked at over 2.7 million points on more than 170,000 underwater images of the Reef and told us whether they can see coral, algae or sand.

They’re all taking part in Virtual Reef Diver—the ABC’s online citizen science project for National Science Week.

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Help protect the Great Barrier Reef without getting your feet wet

The Great Barrier Reef is big, so big that scientists need your help to track its health.

We’re inviting every Australian to dive through their computer screens into the Reef by taking part in Virtual Reef Diver—the ABC’s online citizen science project for National Science Week and the International Year of the Reef.

“We need the community to pitch in to help us classify thousands of underwater images of the Reef,” says spatial scientist and project leader Dr Erin Peterson from Queensland University of Technology.

“Tell us whether you can see coral, algae or sand, and we’ll be able to get an estimate of the coral cover in that image.”

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Are you a slave to your smartphones? Or master of your mobile?

We spend three hours a day on our phones, on average, with almost one in five of us admitting we check our phone at least once every 15 minutes.

These are some of the early findings from Australia’s Biggest Smartphone Survey, which is looking at how we use our smartphones and how we feel about them.

More than 10,000 people have taken part in the survey so far, but there’s still plenty of time to participate with the survey running until Friday, August 25.

In particular, researchers want to hear from more young people, especially those aged between 12 and 25.

Psychology PhD student Bep Uink from Murdoch University, says: “Young Australians are digital natives so it’s possible they have more sophisticated relationships with their smartphones than their parents’ generation.”

“It’s really important for researchers to hear from young people about the benefits they get from their smartphones, and conversely the downsides of having such a ubiquitous device in their lives, that we might not otherwise be aware of,” she says.

Other early findings from the survey show: [continue reading…]