Our earthquake science epicenter; new recycling plant opening; ‘tree lobsters’ and peacock spiders; the physics of beer; and more

Media releases, National Science Week

Dozens of stories and interesting people at 120+ Science Week events in ACT

  • Opening of Canberra’s re-vamped recycling facility…tour the facility, meet the experts and see how physics sorts trash from treasure. Drone footage available.
  • ‘Tree lobster’ stick insects and small peacock spiders on the big screen. And meet the man who discovered these tiny dancing spiders.
  • Scienceability: young adults with a disability running a free science workshop open to the public.
  • Ask scientists to explain physics using beer.
  • Geoscience Australia open day—see inside Australia’s epicenter for earthquake detection, how we use satellites to find water for agriculture, and precious rocks for our smartphones.
  • Dancing with the Science Stars: astronomy, gravitational waves and Antarctic research explained…with the help of dancers.
  • 1,000 science Scouts and Guides saving the planet.
  • How to turn a ‘dead’ seed into a living plant.
  • Do you have a healthy relationship with your smartphone? Researchers want to know.

More on these highlights below, and others at www.scienceinpublic.com.au/science-week, and on Twitter at @SciWKMedia.

Scientists and event organisers are available for interview throughout Science Week. Read on for contact details for each event, or call:

About National Science Week

National Science Week has become one of Australia’s largest festivals. Last year saw a staggering 1.3 million people participate in more than 1,800 events and activities.

In 2017, National Science Week celebrates its 20th birthday, with events held throughout Australia— from insect Olympics in Darwin to ‘Blood’ at Melbourne’s new Science Gallery, to Antarctic science in the Apple Isle—with everything from science festivals, music and comedy shows, expert panel discussions, interactive hands-on displays, 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 sponsors Cosmos, Discovery Science, New Scientist and Popular Science.

National Science Week 2017 will run from 12 – 20 August. Find an event at www.scienceweek.net.au.

More about the event highlights

Recycling is physics in action, at the opening of Canberra’s Recycling Facility—Hume, ACT

See what happens after the recycling truck leaves your street and ask the experts what happens next.

Opening this Saturday, the new machinery at the upgraded Materials Recovery Facility in Hume uses simple physics and mechanics to sort recyclable materials:

  • a giant rotating seive sorts materials by size and weight
  • an industrial-sized magnet pulls out the magnetic steel food cans
  • aluminium is sorted by an eddy current separator
  • optic sorters shine light on plastic to ‘see’ what type they are and sort them accordingly.

See the technology in action, and hear from speakers, including:

  • Garth Lamb from Re.Group, the facility operator
  • The Hon Robert Hill AC, Chairman of Re.Group and former Federal Minister for the Environment
  • Emma Thomas, Director-General of Transport Canberra and City Services.

Saturday 19 August. Event details

Drone footage of facility available.

Media enquiries: Garth Lamb, Re.Group Business Development Manager, 0404487512

Peacock spiders and animated insects on the big screen—Acton, ACT

Meet and see the critically endangered Lord Howe stick insect, also known as the ‘tree lobster’,  through the eyes of an animator. See the colourful mating dance of the peacock spider.

Join the Australian National Botanic Gardens in highlighting Australian conservation and research stories during our movie night at the Gardens. With the screening of two Australian short films ‘Maratus’ and ‘Sticky’.

Sticky is an animated film depicting the conservation story of the Lord Howe Island Phasmid.

Maratus is about a local Canberra citizen scientist Stuart Harris, who has discovered several new species of peacock spiders. Stuart will talk to the audience and answer questions to conclude the night.

Thursday 17 August. Event details

Media contacts: Lucy Porter, events@anbg.gov.au or 02 6250 9505

Scienceability: where disability is no barrier to sharing science—Parkes, ACT

Young adults with intellectual disabilities from around Canberra will run a science workshop open to the public as part of Scienceability—a program designed to challenge opinions on who ‘does’ science.

These young adults have spent the past six weeks participating in science workshops where they have built, tested and hypothesised their way through topics such as the science of flight, colour, and engineering. They will be presenting science workshops.

The workshop will include science experiments and demonstrations such as the science of air, building and making, liquids and fluids, and more.

Through this program, we aim to open up the idea that science is something that everyone can do, not just a small sub-section of society.

Saturday 19 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Sian Keys, sian.scienceability@gmail.com or 0403 984 742

Physics of Beer—Parkes, ACT

Physics: it is used to explain the world around us, but can beer be used to explain physics?

Join Questacon’s amateur beer enthusiasts for another adults-only, scientific exploration of the amber ale. How many pints of carbon dioxide are there in a pint of beer? Why is beer amber coloured but the head is always white? What is supercooled beer, and does it actually taste good? An interactive presentation full of fun, science and—of course—beer.

Friday 18 August. Event details

Media enquiries: media@industry.gov.au, 02 6213 6308 or 0417 329 522

‘Strictly Ballroom’ meets science—Belconnen, ACT

Dancing with the (astro) stars? Dance and dementia? Pain or Pleasure?

At Strictly Science, Canberra’s most fabulous performers take to the stage with internationally renowned scientists.

Topics and speakers include astronomy with Dr Brad Tucker, gravitational waves with Professor Susan Scott, Antarctic research with Dr Merryn McKinnon, and blowing things up with Dr Graham Walker.

Performers include Rainbow, Rebelle Velveteen, Jazida, Liz Lea, Australian Dance Party, Alchemy Chorus, Vivacity Dance, 3G, Miss Chocolate Eclair, Jolene, Liberte la Femme, Griffin Ensemble, David Pereira, and Autumn Temptress.

Saturday 19 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Liz Lea, lea_dance@yahoo.co.uk, or 0498 988 252

The epicentre for rock science: Geoscience Australia Open Day—Symonston, ACT

Find out how earthquakes are detected, learn how agriculture relies on discovery of precious water resources, discover how satellites have revolutionised our ability to access positioning information at the touch of a button, and learn how critical commodities make your smart phone work.

Geoscience Australia’s 2017 annual Open Day will offer a diverse program of free hands-on activities, science displays, talks and fun for all ages. Talk to real scientists, learn about geoscience careers and find out how important geoscience is to our everyday life—all at Australia’s national geoscience agency.

Sunday 20 August. Event details

Media enquiries: media@ga.gov.au

1,000 science Scouts and Guides saving the planet—Stromlo, ACT

‘SciScouts 2017: Environment—Trees, Bees and Seeds’ will see 1,000 Scouts and Guides undertake a collection of science activities aligned with the themes of the World Scout Environment Badge: clean water, natural habitats, minimising harmful substances, sustainability and natural hazards.

Saturday 19 – Sunday 20 August at Scouts ACT’s Camp Cottermouth. Event details

Media enquiries: Kate Lehane, SciScouts ACT, specialprojects@scoutsact.com.au or 0413 482 123

Seed Treatment Workshop—Acton, ACT

Not all seeds germinate easily. Some need special physical or chemical conditions so that in natural habitats the seed only germinate in favourable conditions.

Undertake a scientific experiment to test what seed treatments work best on one of our local natives.

Sunday 20 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Lucy Porter, events@anbg.gov.au or 02 6250 9405

Australia’s Biggest Smartphone Survey—national

Are you a slave to your smartphone? Or have you mastered your mobile? Researchers want your help to build a deeper understanding of our relationship with our smartphones.

Take part in Australia’s Biggest Smartphone Survey—the online project for National Science Week.

How has having a smartphone changed your life? Has it made your life easier? Or harder? How much time do you spend on it? Does it help you connect (or disconnect) with people? And could you live without it?

The survey will run on the ABC website for two weeks from Friday 11 August. Join in by heading to the Smartphone Survey website at www.smartphonesurvey.net.au.

Several researchers and science communicators are available for interviews.

Media enquiries: Suzannah Lyons suzannah@scienceinpublic.com.au, 03 9398 1416 or 0409 689 543