Blade Runner, ballistics, birdsongs, and a First Nations food garden

Dozens of Science Week stories around ACT

  • Space, robotics, and engineering with LEGO: science while you shop in Canberra’s malls.
  • First Nations food and medicine in the National Museum’s garden.
  • Pew-pew! Fact or fiction in Hollywood ballistics.
  • Biodiversity offsets to funding threatened species: the maths of environmental policies.
  • Blade Runner: what do neuroscientists and bioethics experts think?
  • Keeping brains young with creative computing for seniors.
  • Kooo-koo-kaa-kaa, croak, screeee… What is Australia’s favourite animal sound?

More on these highlights below.

Scientists, experts and event organisers are available for interview throughout Science Week.

Read on for direct contact details for each event, or contact Tanya Ha – or 0404 083 863.

Visit to find more stories in your area. Media centre here. Images for media here.

National Science Week in ACT: highlights

Science in the Centres – Multiple locations

Science while you shop! Pop-up science activity centres will give shoppers the chance to meet scientists, engineers and daleks, and learn about space, mushroom growing, engineering with LEGO, parasites, chemistry, geology, space, robotics, and more.

Westfield Belconnen, Westfield Woden, South.Point Tuggeranong, Cooleman Court, and the Canberra Centre will host a variety of displays and hands-on science activities during the two weekends of National Science Week.

Stallholders include Questacon, National Dinosaur Museum, Young Engineers Canberra, ANU Parasitology, Canberra Daleks & Robots, ASTRO 3D, Robogals, Royal Australian Chemical Institute, Dreamtime Connections, Geoscience Australia, Australian Geospatial Intelligence Organisation, Mt Stromlo Observatory, Capital Scraps Composting, Wing, and Canberra Snake Rescue & Relocation.

Multiple dates and locations.

Media enquiries:

Representatives from all stallholders are available for interview.

First Nations food and medicine with Wiradjuri man Adam Shipp – Acton

What Australian plants are good to eat and useful as medicine? Ask the people who have used them for thousands of years. And see, smell and touch some of the plants at the National Museum’s Christina and Trevor Kennedy Garden, a living museum of First Nations food and medicine plants from across Australia.

Yurbay (‘You-ra-bi’) is the Wiradjuri word for seed. Wiradjuri man Adam Shipp of Yurbay Consultancies shares his knowledge of the food and medicine plants that grow in ACT in a series of tours that with the opportunity to sample some of the flavours found in the Kennedy Garden and around Canberra.

Saturday 12 August:

Media enquiries: Penelope Vaile, or 02 6208 5057; or Diana Streak, or 02 6208 5091.

Adam Shipp is available for media interviews.

Pew-pew! Fact or fiction in Hollywood ballistics – Kingston & online

How realistic are gun fights on the big screen? Ask the experts from the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and the ACT Branch of the Australian and New Zealand Forensic Science Society (ANZFSS).

AFP forensic ballistics experts will bust the myths about those famous Hollywood gun fights. Members, guests, students and interested members of the public are invited to join us and learn more about this fascinating field of forensic science.

Science Stations will also be set up to learn more about various forensic science disciplines and using specialised equipment such as microscopes. Or grab some popcorn and watch the action on the screen.

Monday 14 August:

Media enquiries: Annalise Wrzeczycki, ANZFSS ACT Branch, or 0415 308 958.

The maths of saving the planet – according to a mathematician saving the planet – Bruce

How has science and mathematics shaped – or not shaped – Australia’s most significant environmental policies?

Professor Hugh Possingham, one of Australia’s most experienced and respected environmental scientists, has some thoughts, which he will share at the Krebs Lecture.

Hugh is the former Chief Scientist for Queensland and a Professor of both Mathematics and Zoology at The University of Queensland.

He will share his unique, candid perspective of environmental and climate change policies, from emissions offsets to land-clearing to protecting threatened species.

The examples could include biodiversity offsetting, allocation of funds to threatened species, long-term monitoring, land-clearing, designing marine protected areas, wildlife management, and more.

Tuesday 15 August:

Media enquiries: Jaana Dielenberg, Communication and Engagement Manager, Biodiversity Council, or 0413 585 709.

Blade Runner: what do neuroscientists and bioethics experts think? – Acton

Do androids dream of electric sheep? And does Blade Runner keep neuroscientists awake at night?

Join three experts as they discuss the nature of memory, how humans feel emotions, what it means to be human, and how we relate to those who have similar capacities, including those who do not have an organic body. These topics are explored in the 1982 movie Blade Runner.

A screening of Blade Runner at the National Film and Sound Archive will be followed by an expert panel discussion, featuring:

  • Associate Professor Adrian Carter is a neuroscientist and an ARC Future Fellow at the Monash Bioethics Centre.
  • Dr John Noel Viana – bioethicist at the Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science (CPAS) at ANU, with an interest in the societal aspects of neuroscience and biotechnology development.
  • Dr Anna-Sophie Jurgens is a Lecturer in Popular Entertainment Studies at the CPAS. Her research explores the cultural meanings of science.

The screening will be preceded by a brief introduction on robots in popular culture and on ethical issues raised by embodied artificial intelligence.

Friday 18 August:

Media enquiries: Dr Anna-Sophie Jurgens,, 0424 844 642.

Creative computing workshops for seniors keep brains fit – Acton

Move over crosswords and sudoku – learning computing using a technology called Scratch can help keep your brain young.

People aged 55 and over are invited to attend creative computing workshops. Participants will learn how to get started with Scratch, a self-expression system that’s used by more than 90 million men and women worldwide and lets them produce amazing, colourful, musical, moving creations just by fitting multi-coloured blocks together with the mouse.

These creations may then be shared among a vast community of users, or just with family and friends, and can include interactive stories, games, animations, and more. It could also be the start of forming a local “Scratch community” and meeting new people.

Sunday 13 August:

Saturday 19 August:

Sunday 20 August:

Media enquiries: Thomas McCoy, or 0402 050 852.

What is Australia’s favourite animal sound?

Do you love the summer night sounds of cicadas? Are you intrigued by the lyrebird’s mimicry or the mating croaks of frisky frogs?

The search is on to find our most-loved Aussie animal sound. This National Science Week, ABC Science wants people to go online to eavesdrop on the animal kingdom, explore the wonder and science of bioacoustics, and vote for their favourite call of the wild.

Twenty-eight different animal sounds have been selected by ABC’s resident nature-lovers in consultation with scientists so that people can get to know our local tweets, howls, bellows, barks, chirps, croaks and calls, and vote for their favourites.

Monday 31 July – Friday 18 August:

Media enquiries: Laura Boland, or 0408 166 426.

About National Science Week

National Science Week is Australia’s annual opportunity to meet scientists, discuss hot topics, do science and celebrate its cultural and economic impact on society – from art to astrophysics, chemistry to climate change, and forensics to future food.

First held in 1997, National Science Week has become one of Australia’s largest festivals. Last year about 1.9 million people participated in more than 1,650 events and activities. 

The festival is proudly supported by the Australian Government, CSIRO, the Australian Science Teachers Association, and the ABC.

In 2023 it runs from Saturday 12 to Sunday 20 August. Event details can be found at