Fossil fight, wildlife under fire, and the astro-origins of your smartphone

Media releases, National Science Week

Sunday 23 August 2020

Highlights from the FINAL DAY of National Science Week

62 events, 202 competitions and online activities, and dozens of great stories and talent.

Researchers, experts, and other interesting people available for interview around the country.

  • National: Lifehacks to cut your carbon and your fuel bills
  • National: Discover new species, map wildlife, track the effects of climate change
  • ACT: Find out what robot makers, illustrators and Indigenous storytellers have in common
  • SA: Giant wombats versus ichthyosaurs: which would win? Adelaide palaeontologists fight over which is the best fossil
  • SA: Forget the Telstra shop. Your smartphone came from the stars. Find out how.
  • VIC: 76 women in science at sea: catch up with Ili Baré’s compelling documentary, The Leadership
  • VIC: Possible Impossibles: what’s next for the human species?
  • WA: Sign me up!—four scientists and an Auslan interpreter in Bunbury
  • Read on for more on these, including event contact details.

Also today:

National Science Week 2020 runs from 15 to 23 August. Media kit at Or visit the National Science Week website for more events and activities:

More about the event highlights

Carbon Counter: cut your contribution to climate change—national

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

Join in at Carbon Counter, a countrywide challenge produced by the ABC. See what savings your lifestyle hacks will make and pledge to make a difference.

The Carbon Counter project invites individuals, households and schools to make small changes to day-to-day energy, food and transport use with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas production.

A running tally of the tonnes of carbon saved shows the collective impact of you and your fellow challengers.


Researchers and science communicators available for interviews.

The Great Aussie BioQuest: help scientists map where the wild things are—national

Grab your chance to discover a new species by joining in the Great Aussie BioQuest – a gigantic, nationwide citizen science project to discover how climate change is affecting Australia’s wildlife.

Gamers have found animals never seen before, such as the spider Ornodolmedes benrevelli, named after Ben Revell, the gamer who photographed it. Other species of moths, spiders and insects are in the process of being formally described and confirmed.

BioQuest participants log sightings of plants, animals or fungi using the QuestaGame smartphone app. All sightings are expert-verified and given a “remarkability score”.

Information is uploaded to the open-access Atlas of Living Australia to help researchers make decisions about protecting the environment.

Saturday 15 August until Sunday 23 August Event details

QuestaGame image library (please credit photos with the full text of each file name)

The Great South Australian Fossil Debate—Adelaide, SA

Which prehistoric South Australian creatures were the greatest: giant wombats and kangaroos, the plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs that swam in the Eromanga Sea, or the armoured predators of Cambrian oceans?

Four leading palaeontologists delve into the state’s rich fossil heritage and argue which is the most important. They are:

Each has seven minutes to make a case before battling it out in a panel debate, moderated by the singing palaeontologist and Dinosaur University Dean of Science, Professor Flint (otherwise known as science communicator and comic actor Michael Mills). Online audience members can pose their own questions.

The production also includes songs by Professor Flint and performers from the Adelaide Youth Theatre.

Sunday 23 August. Event details

Michael Mills and panellists are available for interviews.

Canberra Women of Science and Art—Canberra, ACT

What do robot makers, illustrators and indigenous storytellers have in common? Find out in this diverse panel diverse from the Canberra Women of Science and Art. Discover how they use science and art in their lives, and how they got to where they are.

Saturday 08 August – Sunday 23 August. Event details

Event organisers, Claire and Renee are available to be interviewed.

Paradoxical objects at MOD

The clothes you wear, the cutlery you eat with, the device you’re reading this on – they all come from the stars.

Join artist and futurist Ana Tiquia during her online residency at the University of Adelaide’s MOD museum to explore our material world, following everyday objects through time from the start of the Universe, through Earth’s geological periods, to extraction, manufacturing and transportation.  

Suggest an object to Ana in her space-time travel agency. If she likes it, she will trace its cosmic origins and offer personalised planetary travel guidance to its owner.

Tuesday 21 July – Friday 4 September. Event details

Ana Tiquia available for media interviews.

The Leadership: women in STEM at Melbourne International Film Festival—VIC

The Melbourne International Film Festival is screening director Ili Baré’s Australian documentary The Leadership, until August 23.

The film follows the story of an Australian CEO and ‘dreamer’ Fabian Dattner as she leads an international group of 76 female scientists on an Antarctic voyage designed to transform them “into the sort of leaders they want to be.” The Leadership unearths the profoundly troubling systemic obstacles to women’s advancement in science and beyond.

Produced by multi-award-winning Bunya Productions’ Greer Simpkin (Mystery Road, Sweet Country), The Leadership is written and directed by acclaimed documentary maker in her feature length debut.

Filmed on location in Antarctica, Argentina, Indonesia, China, Australia, United Kingdom, France and United States, the film follows a handful of the scientists back to their homes and workplaces to reflect on their journeys post-voyage.

Event type: Online

Runs until Sunday 23 August. Event details

Several of the scientists featured in the film are available for interview.

Possible Impossibles

Possible Impossibles is a series of online events and activities exploring the frontiers of possibility, asking what’s next for the human species.

Featured activities include:

  • Fake Out: the citizen science challenge inviting real humans to test their ability to spot deep fake videos and their willingness to share them.
  • Ecosphere: a VR nature documentary series bringing viewers up close to encounter elephants, orangutans, manta rays and some incredible humans.
  • Q&A with experts article series, with La Trobe University’s Kim Johnson on future food, Melbourne University’s Andrew Pask on resurrecting extinct species, Zoos Victoria’s Amy Coetsee on saving eastern barred bandicoots, Monash University’s Elizabeth Croft on socially aware robots, RMIT’s Rajesh Ramanathan on wearable solar UV sensors, and more.
  • Body/Insect/Machine is a movement experiment combining Prue Lang’s choreography, artist Mathieu Briand’s androids and a stick insect, all informed by evolutionary ecologist Professor Mark Elgar from the University of Melbourne.

Saturday 15 – Sunday 23 August. Event details

Experts and artists available for media interviews.

Meet the Scientists – Sign Me Up!— Bunbury, WA

This program allows children who are deaf and hard of hearing to meet scientists from all different disciplines, from astrophysics to robotics. Auslan Interpreters and brunch are provided. Siblings and friends welcome.

Organised by the WA Foundation for Deaf Children,  the program is geared  to children aged between 6 and 12, providing them with exposure to science as a career pathway, building confidence in scientific concepts and inspiring them through science.

Participants will meet four scientists, learn about their work, ask questions and do hands-on activities in an accessible and inclusive environment.

The Bunbury event will feature microbiologist Rina Fu, robotics expert Tane Pendragon, parasitologist Cindy Palermo, and astrophysicist Christopher Jordan.

Sunday 23 August. Event details

Event type: in person

More about National Science Week

National Science Week is one of Australia’s largest festivals. Last year 1.5 million people participated in more than 2050 events around the country, in metropolitan, regional and remote locations.

In 2020, the festival is almost entirely virtual, online, DIY and well-spaced. This means most events, large and small, is open to anyone, no matter where they live.

National Science Week 2020 will run from 15 to 23 August. Media kit at, public event listings at