Inspiring WA

Inspiring Australia

Public help sought in state-wide hunt for meteorites, the science behind cooking the perfect steak, whoopee cushion as educational tool and more.

WA winners amongst 63 Unlocking Australia’s Potential science communication grants announced today by the Minister for Science and Research, Senator Chris Evans.

Scientists will turn to the public for help in monitoring WA’s expansive night-time sky in the hunt for meteorites.

People living in non-metropolitan areas will be asked to add their meteor sightings to an online database, as part of a crowd-sourcing initiative to be staged by Perth’s Curtin University.

Eye-witness accounts will augment data generated by the Desert Fireball Network – a project involving an array of cameras in the Nullarbor desert which tracks incoming space rocks so they can be recovered.

Participants need little more than to enjoy star gazing, say the scientists behind the “Fireballs In The Sky” (FITS) project.

“The public can easily engage in the research because their technical needs are simple – requiring a watch, compass direction, and description of colour and sound,” a spokesman says.

The public will also have an opportunity to go along as meteorites are recovered, and also analysed in the lab.

The FITS project has received a $145,000 Unlocking Australia’s Potential grant, from Inspiring Australia, as announced today.

Media contact: Pip Lapelms –

Your kitchen is a laboratory where experiments are eaten

Science can explain how to cook the perfect steak, why some foods stimulate different regions of the brain and why wine tastes differently depending on where it hits your tongue. These and other burning issues will be addressed in a series of food-based workshops, to be hosted by both a scientist and a chef. The “Tastes Like Science” public events will be organised by the University of WA. The initiative received a $44,919 Unlocking Australia’s Potential grant.

Media contact: Michael Sinclair-Jones – UWA Public Affairs,, 08  6488 3229  / 0400 700 783

Other WA grant recipients include:

Science educator “Rocketgirl” ( will put on a public show for children and families. Her talents include using a whoopee cushion to show the properties of air pressure (what else!) and actual rockets to demonstrate Newton’s laws of motion ($5000).

  • Newly-arrived refugee families and children will learn about and meet some native Australian animals via Perth Zoo’s “Living With Wildlife” project.  The mobile outreach program will provide an understanding and appreciation of native wildlife, the need for conservation and how to respond appropriately to native species.
  • Hands-on lessons in “ancient science” will be delivered on the banks of Herdsman Lake, for Aboriginal people and others who work in indigenous communities ($5000).
  • A “Science Rocks on the Road” educational program, to be delivered from a trailer, will roll into mining communities including Laverton, Esperance and Kalgoorlie-Boulder. ($30,000)
  • Workshops will be held in three WA Indigenous communities focussed on energy use, and carbon management options. ($5,000).
  • The Royal Australian Chemical Institute’s travelling chemistry exhibition will be expanded ($44,919).
  • A University of WA archaeology program for students will also involve the Noongar community and focus on Albany’s oldest archaeological site, Kalgan Hall. ($30,340).

About the grants

A total of $5 million has been awarded across three levels of grant categories, small, medium and large, for projects to be delivered in 2012 and/or 2013 and/or 2014.

The prime objective of the program is to increase the engagement of Australians in science and it has prioritised projects that engage people who may not have had previous access to or interest in science-communication activities. Inspiring Australia is an initiative of the Australian Government.

For a complete list of grant recipients go online to

For more information: