Fossil rivalry, deadly slime and kitchen astrophysics

Media releases, National Science Week

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

As Australia’s biggest science festival migrates online, every story has national reach. Try these ideas:

  • Real whodunnits: learn the secrets of forensic investigation
  • How do superbugs get super-villain superpowers?
  • Discover storms on Jupiter—multiple events and locations
  • Giant wombats versus ichthyosaurs: which would win? Adelaide palaeontologists fight over which is the best fossil
  • Can you save a cartoon character from being plunged into a vat of acid?
  • Discover the galaxy in your kitchen
  • Hit the virtual science trail across Sydney

These are just a few of the events and activities 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, and on Twitter at @SciWKMedia.

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

Individual event details and media contacts

Forensic Science: Fact vs. Fiction – Facebook and radio—Melbourne, VIC

Are disaster movies and TV crime dramas true to real forensic science? How do they know who died? And how do they know whodunnit?

Join journalist and radio presenter Virginia Trioli and specialists Dr Richard Bassed and Professor David Ranson from the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine as they put fictional sleuthing under the microscope.

Dr Bassed and Professor Ranson were part of the team that used genetics to identify the body of Ned Kelly. They helped identify victims of some of the world’s most traumatic events, including the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, the MH17 Ukraine plane crash, the Bosnian war, and Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires. They will compare what we see on our screens with the true world of forensic science.

Monday 17 August. Event details

SciVR: a virtual reality trip around the solar system—Echuca (VIC), Adelaide & Mt Gambier (SA), Denmark (WA), Kingston (TAS), and online

Discover storms on Jupiter, exploding stars and mysterious signals from space. From global events using dozens of telescopes to watching the sky in Australia, SciVR takes audiences on a virtual reality tour of the Universe using a smartphone app and a foldable VR headset.

SciVR comprises two online events, presented by astrophysicists Rebecca Allen and Alan Duffy, live-streamed to homes and venues (where COVID-19 restrictions allow) around the country. They will include Auslan interpreting. The second is especially for children.

Friday 21 – Saturday 22 August. Event details

Rebecca Allen and Alan Duffy available for media interviews.

Avoidable Perils—Darwin Festival, NT

A tank full of sharks, a deadly laser beam, a vat of acid – each night of the Darwin Festival, animated cartoon heroes in danger will be beamed outside to an audience of bystanders in Festival Park for ‘Avoidable Perils’ – a social experiment exploring activism and the need for social cooperation.

Audience members can be part of the solution, but no one can do it alone. If witnesses can rally enough people to participate in time, the hero can be saved. The question is, can anyone be bothered?

This interactive game for the masses explores activism in the attention economy and the need for social cooperation towards a greater good. These ideas are particularly poignant during the COVID-19 pandemic, where individual choices have an impact on our collective wellbeing.

Thursday 6 – Sunday 16 August. Event details

Artist Nathan Sibthorpe is available for interviews.

Deadly Slime: a choose-your-own-adventure animated experience—SA

Dive into the slimy battlefront of the war with super-villain superbugs.

Deadly Slime is an online choose-your-own-adventure animation experience, exploring biofilms, the protective coatings used by bacteria as a defence against powerful host immune systems. Thus armoured, they can quickly evolve into dangerous superbugs. Even with antibiotics, it is difficult to destroy these fortified slime castles.

Navigate your way through a dramatic story inspired by real-life events. Will you make the right decisions and defeat the infection?

Win or lose, you can meet Adelaide antibiotic-resistant bacteria researcher Dr Katharina Richter and surgeon Dr Markus Trochsler for an online Q&A panel event on 26 August.

Monday 17 – Wednesday 26 August. Event details

Sydney Science Trail—NSW

Explore ocean depths previously unseen. Discover the resilience of the Australian bush when faced with fires. Gain an understanding of First Nations’ approaches to science and the world around us.

Sydney Science Trail is an online adventure bringing together researchers, scientists, community groups, and institutions to celebrate Australian science. It’s an initiative of the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and the Australian Museum.

The trail inspires users to explore virtual activities, digital exhibitions, live-streamed talks and demonstrations from world-class scientists, researchers and curators.

The expedition covers vital areas of science, from plants and animals to earth, technology and space, showcasing the best of the city’s science and research.

Sydney Science Trail will offer curriculum related content produced in partnership with the NSW Department of Education, Macquarie University, UTS and ANSTO. Exploring the theme of ‘Adaptation’, it will feature theatre shows, live panels, science shows, workshops and many activities for classes.

Saturday 15 August – 15 September. Event details

The Great South Australian Fossil Debate—Adelaide, SA

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

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

  • Dr Felicity Coutts, University of Adelaide
  • Associate Professor Diego Garcia-Bellido, University of Adelaide, SA Museum
  • Professor Mike Lee, Flinders University, SA Museum
  • Diana Fusco, Flinders University

Each has seven minutes to make a case before battling it out in a panel debate, moderated by 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.

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 wtaching 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

Brisbane Science Festival—QLD

Join Australia’s leading scientists and educators as they explore the latest in scientific research, technology and innovative ideas during the annual Brisbane Science Festival.  

Dubbed “A Slice of Science”, this year’s prgram sees daily events designed to get neurons firing with clever ideas and DIY projects.

Check out the range of 60-minute sessions geared to students, teachers and community members across the whole of Australia. Watch teaser video.

Check the Festival’s Facebook page for daily updates.

Monday 17 August – Friday 21 August Event details

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