Satellite selfies, exploding watermelons, whale snot and more

Media releases, National Science Week

Great National Science Week EDUCATION stories up for grabs now around Australia.

Australia’s biggest science festival is splashing into real schools, school-at-home, and virtual classrooms. With this year’s activities migrating online, stories have local talent and national reach:

  • Make a melon go boom—Brisbane
  • Gamers: can you power up enough molecules to fire a laser?—Melbourne
  • Who are you calling ugly? Help Blobfish and his friends save their ocean homes—Adelaide
  • Discover the galaxy in your kitchen—Melbourne
  • Learn from 60,000 years of Aboriginal astronomy and Indigenous knowledge—Sydney
  • A whole-school selfie from space—Canberra and Northern Territory
  • From reef to desert: how far can a girl with a drone go?—Cairns
  • Meet the Marine Team: comedy science on film!—Melbourne
  • Whale snot in the classroom—Sydney
  • Become a Carbon Counter and join the challenge cut your contribution to climate change.

These are just a few of the events, activities and lessons for schools happening across Australia during National Science Week: August 15 to 23.

If you’re after more great ideas for highly visual stories, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at www.scienceinpublic.com.au/science-week, and on Twitter at @SciWKMedia.

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

Tanya Ha: tanya@scienceinpublic.com.au or 0404 083 863
Niall Byrne: niall@scienceinpublic.com.au or 0417 131 977 or 03 9398 1416.

Individual event details and media contacts

The Big Watermelon Experiment: physics, forces and flying fruit – Queensland

How many elastic bands will it take to make your watermelon explode? The Big Watermelon Experiment is a mass science experiment for school students. It has just one aim: to make melons go boom.

This nationwide event is guided by Dr Rob Bell, the former Scope TV presenter. See how to take part here.

Monday 20 July – Sunday 23 August Event details

Rob is available for interviews. Photos and vision available.

Video games and making electricity from sunshine—Melbourne, VIC

Gamers! Battle your friends in It’s on like Exciton! — a new set of online science games challenging players to connect quantum dots, build solar cells and create lasers by energising molecules.

Teachers! There are lesson-plan resources to go with it.

From Friday 14 August. Event details

Take the Solar Cell Challenge—Melbourne, VIC

The Solar Cell Challenge is a classroom-based experiment and competition for student groups from Years 7 to 12. Solar energy scientists from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science provide them with a basic method and some equipment, and all they need to do is harness the energy of the sun and convert it into electricity.

Students will work in teams and present their results in the form of a short, creative video.

Find out more by watching this video or visit excitonscience.com/solar-cell-challenge.

From Friday 24 July Event details

Call of the Blobfish – a Pod Play by Kids Story Room – SA

Call of the Blobfish is an audio drama from the Kids Story Room podcast for children aged four to 10 years. It aims to ignite young curious scientists by engaging them in a story of oceans and marine life and of their importance to human existence.

Deep down in the magical world beneath the waves, the wise and ancient Blobfish needs help. It engages a jumbly bunch of sea creatures who must overcome their fears and contribute to their united quest to save their ocean home.

Kids, parents and teachers engaging with Call of the Blobfish can download further educational resources. There will be an additional podcast discussion with a South Australian marine scientist at the close of the pod play.

Saturday 8 August – Saturday 12 September. Event details

Astro in the Home—VIC

We’ve all heard of kitchen science, but what about kitchen astrophysics? Did you know you can measure the speed of light near your fridge, or explore the colours of galaxies by using the cleaning products stored under the sink?  Find out how by watching Astro in the Home, the new YouTube series from the ARC Centre of Excellence in All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions (ASTRO 3D).

The series features a new video posted every day during National Science Week, in which an astronomer will you through a space activity you can do in your own home.

You can learn how to break light into a rainbow, model the universe in your backyard, and make a mini light-bending galaxy.

Saturday 15 August onwards. Event details

Indigenous Science Experience—Macquarie University

What can Aboriginal astronomy tell us about the night sky? How is native flora used as bush medicine? What can we learn about sustainable living from more than 60 000 years of Indigenous culture?

Find out the answers to these and other questions during the Indigenous Science Experience.

The event consists of five online presentations showcasing science presented by Indigenous secondary students, Elders, community members and science outreach providers, including astrophysicist and Wiradjuri woman Kirsten Banks, global Indigenous engineering expert Dave Harrington, and Yaegl community members.

  • Artefact and Bush Tucker Experience: Monday 17 August
  • Bush Medicines to Pharmaceuticals: Tuesday 18 August
  • Indigenous History and Artefacts: Wednesday 19 August
  • Indigenous Astronomy in Australia: Thursday 20 August
  • Global Indigenous Engineering: Friday 21 August.

Since 2012, the Indigenous Science Experience at the Redfern Community Centre has been highlighting the value of traditional and contemporary Indigenous knowledge in STEM and the relevance of science to everyday lives. The new online format continues this tradition.

Saturday 15 – Sunday 23 August. Event details

Satellite selfies in the territories

You can be part of a selfie from space. A satellite will fly over Australia’s two mainland territories – the ACT and NT – to capture images of giant artworks created by the locals.

Participating schools, businesses, families and individuals can go to an oval, park or backyard and put together designs, posters or logos that are big enough to be seen from space. The satellite will capture the results and upload them to a website for viewing.

High-altitude photos will be taken over Canberra, Darwin and Palmerston, Pine Creek, Katherine, Nhulunbuy, Yirrkala, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek, Jilkmingan, Mataranka, Barunga, Beswick, Manyallaluk, Jabiru, Gunbalanya, Batchelor, Adelaide River, Ramingining, and Ngukurr.

Monday 17 – Friday 21 August. Event details

“Pippa and Dronie” virtual book launch—Cairns, QLD

How do flying drones help scientists study harsh deserts, Indigneous land management, whales and the Great Barrier Reef? Pippa and her remote-controlled drone, called Dronie, will show you.

Pippa and Dronie is a gorgeously illustrated book for young readers aged five to nine, celebrating diversity in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Students and teachers are invited to join author Paul Mead, illustrator Sarah Davies, and the real-life scientists and drone professionals featured in the book for a some huge virtual launch events!

The series of five live, online sessions include:

  • Monday: Meet the author Paul Mead and Dronie.
  • Tuesday: Hear from two of the scientists featured in the book, and learn about the work they do with whales and the Great Barrier Reef.
  • Wednesday: Listen to two more people featured in the book, focusing on environmental management, including Indigenous country management.
  • Thursday: The last stop of Dronie’s tour in the Central Deserts with a final scientist.
  • Friday: How we bring art into STEM: hear from the drone photographer who taught Dronie some skills, and also from the book illustrator Sarah Davies.

Teachers will be provided with student activities, mapped to the Australian Curriculum, to do after each talk to continue the learning.

Monday 17 August – Friday 21 August Event details

Media opportunities are available with the author, illustrator, and scientists and technologists featured in the book.

The Marine Team! Schools virtual incursion—VIC

The Marine Team! is a live-on-film sketch comedy that featuring two professional actor-educators with two goals. The first is to highlight lots of amazing ocean-related facts.  The second is to make students laugh so hard that they forget they’re learning.

This virtual incursion package also includes a stream of additional material to use all year long, including resources for teachers, classroom activities, digital games, and Q&A videos. Schools can also schedule a live-stream session with the actors.

Monday 10 – Friday 28 August. Event details

The secrets of whale snot, and other mysteries of the depths – schools go Deep Blue for Science Week

Marine scientist Vanessa Pirotta pilots drones adapted for collecting whale snot. She’s also National Science Week’s schools ambassador – keen to talk about her work and some of the other amazing pieces of research happening in Australian waters.

Deep Blue: innovations for the future of our oceans is the schools theme for this year’s festival. To mark it, the Australian Science Teachers Association has compiled a massive compendium of lessons and activities focussed on marine science and the ocean-based economy.

The lessons are suitable for kids of all ages, and are downloadable, free, from here. They help students explore the innovative technologies, capabilities and skills needed to achieve economic, environmental and social sustainability of our oceans.

Carbon Counter: cut your contribution to climate change—online

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.

Visit: www.abc.net.au/carboncounter.

Researchers and science communicators available for interviews.

Media enquiries: Andrew Masterson, andrew@scienceinpublic.com.au, 03 9398 1416 or 0488 777 179

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 www.scienceinpublic.com.au, public event listings at www.scienceweek.net.au.