Wine science, outer-space, hackerspaces, the scent of death, and are you a slave to your smartphone?

ABC projects, Media releases, National Science Week

A taste of some of the 1,800+ National Science Week events and activities around the country.

  • What’s your relationship with your phone? (national)
  • Is your future written in your genes? (Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth)
  • NASA scientists and potential Martians on the Red Planet (NSW)
  • Science Gallery International’s bloody Australian debut (VIC)
  • Hunting pests in pantries (WA and SA)
  • Plus many more

International guests

  • Canadian astronaut and ‘Space Oddity’ Chris Hadfield
  • The man behind the visual effects of the movie Interstellar Oliver James
  • US science writer Dava Sobel, author of The Glass Universe, revealing more hidden figures from the history of astronomy
  • English physicist, writer and broadcaster Paul Davies

Local science stars

  • Katie Mack—the astrophysicist J K Rowling follows—will be the Women in Physics Touring Lecturer, before heading back to America in 2018
  • Astrophysicist and science communicator Alan Duffy, Mamamia’s ‘hot astronomer
  • Lee Constable—Steminist, host of Network Ten’s science show SCOPE, and the brains behind Co-Lab: Science Meets Street Art
  • 17-year-old inventor, social entrepreneur and educational pioneer Taj Pabari, who developed a build-it-yourself tablet and creativity kit for kids
  • Forensic chemist and modern-day Sherlock Holmes Shari Forbes, who uses a ‘farm’ of buried bodies to study the smell of death and decay
  • Comedian, science communicator and Mars One candidate Josh Richards


National activities

Australia’s Biggest Smartphone Survey

What’s your relationship with your smartphone? ABC Science and a bunch of researchers want to know.

How has having a smartphone changed your life for the better? Or the worse? How has it made your life easier? How much time do you spend on it? Are you concerned about privacy, data-tracking or addiction?

Australia’s Biggest Smartphone Survey will ask people to share their smartphone opinions and experiences.

The survey will run on the ABC website for two weeks from Friday 11 August, and you’ll be invited to take part. Or you can do related activities, like tracking your usage or trying a digital detox. This information will help to build a picture of Australian’s relationship with the smartphone.

Brisbane, Perth, Sydney, Melbourne

Gattaca: Are your genes your destiny?

How close is Gattaca to reality, 20 years on from its cinema release? Are we choosing the gender of our children? Are we creating designer babies? Are we profiling people with DNA?

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the sci-fi film Gattaca. This modern classic explores the consequences of genetic selection and manipulation on society through the eyes of genetically less-than-perfect Vincent (Ethan Hawke) and genetically perfect Irene (Uma Thurman).

A series of film nights will screen Gattaca, followed by an expert panel discussion of the science, art and ethics of the movie.

Brisbane on Sunday 6, Perth on Saturday 12, Sydney on Tuesday 15, and Melbourne on Friday 18 August Event details

Australian Capital Territory

Droids, dinosaurs, careers in code, and more at Science in ACTion

Science in ACTion takes visitors on a trip to the past, through archelology and forensic science, and into the future, exloring science careers, Earth’s future and the potential to  move to Mars.

See student highlights from the AFP’s Forensic Science Challenge, take a virtual reality look inside a plant cell, or hear about the parasites that live within us. Hear from scientists who work to conserve iconic Australian plants and animals, and learn how renewable energies help protect the Earth’s climate. And head around the corner to Co-Lab, where science meets street art.

Come and experience real life Science in ACTion at the Old Bus Depot in Kingston. The amazing work of local, national, and international science and technology organisations is on show at this fun-filled interactive exhibition.

Schools Day: Friday 11 August Event details

Community Day: Saturday 12 August Event details

Can scientists influence national policy?

How can scientists work with Canberra? What do policymakers need to know?

Science meets Policymakers brings 75 scientists from a range of science and technology disciplines together with up to 75 policymakers from across government and agencies to make connections and examine the intersection between the evidence base and policy development.

Delegates will hear from experts in policy formulation and senior policymakers who are actively building plans in areas informed by, and important to, science and technology.

Speakers include Dr Cathy Foley (Science & Technology Australia), Dr Charlie Day (Office of Innovation and Science Australia), and Dr Patricia Kelly (IP Australia).

Tuesday 8 August Event details

See Interstellar with the guy behind the visual effects

How do you build a black hole for the big screen? And make it convincing, entertaining and true to the science?

See the movie Interstellar—in which a team of researchers must find a way through a wormhole to a new home for humanity—and hear a short talk and Q&A with Oliver James, the Chief Scientist from Double Negative, the team responsible for bringing the science behind Interstellar to life.

Monday 14 August Event details

New South Wales

NASA science, the scent of death, and the glass ceiling meets The Glass Universe at the Sydney Science Festival

  • Life on Mars at the Sydney Opera House, with NASA scientists talking about the 2020 Rover Mission
  • The women who photographed stars and worked as ‘human computers’ over a century ago—US science writer Dava Sobel and her new book The Glass Universe
  • Mars One candidate Josh Richards launches his book Becoming Martian
  • How the chemistry of corpses solves crimes, with forensic scientist and modern-day Sherlock Shari Forbes
  • The science of baking, DIY, a comedy quiz night, art/science activities, Dr Karl, and more…

These are just some of the highlights of this year’s Sydney Science Festival, 8 – 20 August.

Tens of thousands of visitors are expected to attend more than 150 events across dozens of venues in Sydney, including the Powerhouse Museum, the Australian Museum and the Australian National Maritime Museum, university campuses and local libraries. Festival details

Indigenous Science Experience @ Redfern

What can Aboriginal astronomy tell us about the night sky? How is our native flora used in bush medicine? What can we learn about sustainable living from 40,000+ years of Indigenous culture?

The Indigenous Science Experience @ Redfern is a celebration of Indigenous and Western science, and Indigenous youth and Elder achievements. Part of the Sydney Science Festival and National Science Week, the four-day event at the Redfern Community Centre will demonstrate the value of traditional and contemporary Indigenous knowledge in science and technology, and the relevance of science to our everyday lives.

Schools Days: Wednesday 16 to Friday 18 August  Event details

Family Science Fun Day: Sunday 20 August Event details

Fire and flora at the Illawarra Festival of Flame

This one-day event will explore the Illawarra’s Flame Tree, the science of fire and its influence on the local habitats.

Local scientists and gardening personalities including ABC’s John Gabrielle have been invited to speak about the importance of the Flame Tree in our local ecology and its importance to first nation people.

Michael Connor form the Discovery Centre at the Wollongong Botanic Gardens will be helping people propagate a Flame Tree from seed and the Fireready team will be on hand to talk about how residents can prepare their homes to be ready for bushfire. Drones flying above the rainforest will help map the flame trees near the scout camp.

Sunday 20 August Event details

Northern Territory

Mobile health checks with HealthLAB, from Parliament House to Arnhem Land

HealthLAB events will be held throughout the Territory during National Science Week. HealthLAB participants will undertake personal health measures and learn about healthy lifestyle choices. Through a series of hands-on activities, participants will learn how today’s lifestyle choices impact on immediate and long-term personal health. Multiple dates and locations

An eco-apocalyptic circus show

An eco-apocalyptic circus show explores the stark reality of climate change through performance.

Award-winning artist Rockie Stone (Circa, Circus Oz), acrobat Vincent van Berkel (Casus, Circus Oz) and kinetic sculptural artist Callan Morgan have joined creative forces to explore the stark reality of climate change in ‘Perhaps Hope’.

Friday 11 August Event details

Darwin Insect festival

A fun day of activities where you can learn all about the little critters and their quirky lives. Find out how some beetles avoid detection from their ant prey, how an insect sees, which celebrities are insect namesakes and much more.

Saturday 12 August Event details


Future-proof your career

Will you have the knowledge and skills for the workforce of 2050? Can science help? How do you prepare today for jobs that don’t yet exsist?

More than 70% of new jobs being created require skills gained through science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) studies.

Griffith University STEM researchers and lecturers, students and support staff will give a series of evening events in regional centres around Queensland to help to share course and career insights with our future workforce.

Multiple dates and locations, including Cairns, Ipswich, Mackay, Rockhampton and Toowoomba.

A night at the museum, forensic facial reconstruction, and behind the scenes at Queensland Museum

Delve into the mysterious unseen world of Queensland Museum’s collection stores with expert tour guides, hear the facts and fiction of forensic facial reconstruction with Dr Susan Haynes, or bring a sleeping bag and spend a Night at the Museum, with torch-lit tours and pop-up shows. In addition to their regular science engagement offerings, Queensland Museum has these and more special activities running during National Science Week.

Multiple events

Street Science @ EKKA

In between rides and show bags at EKKA, look out for Street Science in the Agricultural Pavillion. Chat with working scientists and Women in Science ambassadors, meet the interactive ‘farmer robot’ Mechanoid, learn about science in game show style, and try other science-themed activities. This year’s program digs into soil science and future sustainability, including soil testing, crops, and creepy crawlies.

Friday 11 August to Sunday 20 August Event details

South Australia

Fighting cancer, tasting wine and the funniest physicists at Big Science Adelaide

2017 sees the inaugural Big Science Adelaide—a festival of big issues, brilliant minds, great sights and top science, right in the heart of Adelaide.

Events include:

Saturday 12 – Sunday 20 August Event details

Science Alive!

Chemistry shows, up close with native animals, The Curiosity Show with Rob Morrison and Deane Hutton, robotics, bugs and slugs, smoke cannons, fossils, dinosaur puzzles and daleks—all under one roof at the Wayville Showgrounds.

Science Alive! is Adelaide’s festival of science-themed family fun.

Saturday 5 – Sunday 6 August Event details

Observatory on wheels heads to Port Augusta

Southern Cross Outreach Observatory Project is a mobile astronomical observatory taking science engagement to regional communities. This mobile observatory is designed to travel far and wide, and is equipped with computerised telescopes for solar viewing and night time astronomy.

In August 2017, Southern Cross Outreach Observatory Project will travel to Mildura, Broken Hill, and Port Augusta to carry out public outreach astronomy events during National Science Week.

Saturday 19 August Event details


Ethical farming, the science of piracy and Hobart Hackerspace at the Festival of Bright Ideas

  • Piratechniques 101: the science of piracy with ABC’s Lish Fejer
  • A lot of hot (and cold) air, and occasional humour, with Jeremy Just
  • Five fantastic females and their science success stories
  • Electronics with Hobart Hackerspace
  • Young Tassie Scientists share their science stories
  • Ethical farmer Matthew Evans
  • Vacuum cleaner marshmallow launchers and more with Science ShowOffs’ Graham Walker
  • See the RoboCup Junior finalists
  • Meet scientists from Tasmania’s top research institutes
  • The future of water, motorsport engineering, renewable energy, and more.

These are just some of the speakers, activities and displace at the Festival of Bright Ideas, all under one roof at Princes Wharf 1 on Hobart’s waterfront.

Friday 11 August (schools day) Event details

Saturday 12 August Event details

What did a voyage to Antarctica tell us about women in science? Meet the scientist studying the scientists

In 2016, 76 women with science backgrounds from around the world travelled to the Antarctic as part of the three-week Homeward Bound leadership program, designed to support female experts to contribute to climate change collaboration and policy development.

Social scientist Dr Meredith Nash from the University of Tasmania was one of these. At this Science Week event, she will discuss her research drawing on the experiences of 25 women who were fellow participants.

Thursday 17 August Event details


Art meets science in ‘Blood’

The alluring mystery of blood has fascinated scientists and artists for centuries. From biological fluid to artistic medium, Blood: Attract & Repel is a collision of arts and science that will take you on a journey of scientific discovery, social taboo and self-identity.

Blood is the opening exhibition of Science Gallery Melbourne, the newest of only eight galleries in the Global Science Gallery Network. Science Gallery International exhibitions are a new approach for engaging 15 to 25-year-old people with science.

Embedded at the University of Melbourne, Science Gallery Melbourne will involve, inspire and transform curious minds through arts and science.

Tuesday 25 July – Thursday 5 October Event details

From biofabrication to better batteries: IMPACT7 innovators’ competition

On 1 August, finalist IMPACT7 researchers will pitch problem-solving projects to industry and the public. Hear how researchers are solving this generation’s wicked problems – from using diamonds for better medical imaging to passive radar allowing defense to see without being seen, and saving ecosystems to bacteria fighting insect-borne disease.

They’ll be pitching to a group of ‘Impact Leaders’ including Charles Day (Office of Innovation and Science Australia CEO), Amanda Caples (Victoria’s Lead Scientist), Lara Olsen (Tesla Energy APAC), Alex Wonhas (Sustainable Industries, Aurecon), and John Dyson (Investment Principal at Starfish Ventures).

Tuesday 1 August Event details

Informative fun with family science games nights

Gaming is an ideal means of engaging participants in science. Science games nights in Warrnambool, Geelong and Burwood will provide participants with the opportunity to play a variety of games relating to different scientific concepts and skills that they may not have previously thought about. The games provide a fun and exciting avenue for exploring scientific concepts that are normally difficult to relate to and which might be perceived as too difficult to understand or not relevant to participants’ lives.

Warrnambool on Monday 14, Geelong on Wednesday 16, and Burwood on Friday 18 August Event details

Western Australia

Perth Science Festival – Northbridge

Worms, wormholes, small sustainable homes, and big and bubbley science shows are on at the Perth Cultural Centre. Perth Science Festival has over 40 interactive stalls, explosive experiments, native animals, science theatre, and more.

This year’s event brings special guest 17-year-old inventor, social entrepreneur and educational pioneer Taj Pabari to WA.

2017 also features Scitech’s Future Earth-themed marquee, where families can explore future housing, future food and future lifestyles. Get creative with a gigantic colouring wall, sample exotic future food, and see how algae can fuel the future.

Saturday 12 to Sunday 13 August Event details

Is there an evil weevil lurking in your pantry?

What potential pests are hiding in your pantry? The WA Department of Agriculture and Food wants your help to protect our food, environment and livelihoods from damaging pests by taking part in Pantry Blitz.

Observe what’s in your household pantry and reporting what you see. For example, did a sweet potato weevil hitch a ride in a bag of produce? They can ruin sweet potato crops.

Participants will place a pantry trap in their pantry for one month and use free reporting tools to send insect reports for identification. The findings will be published on the Pantry Blitz webpage.

Saturday 12 August to Saturday 9 September Initiative details

How does your garden grow? Soil science secrets revealed

Get your garden growing by learning more about Perth’s soil.

Local soil scientists from Hydrosoil will share some secrets to help you better manage your soil for a more productive veggie patch, a vibrant flowerbed or a healthy and resilient lawn. Perth soils can make gardening tricky but you can improve the growth of any garden by understanding what lies beneath. This practical series of events will be held in several local councils across Perth.

Multiple dates and locations Event details

National Science Week: background

First held in 1997, National Science Week has become one of Australia’s largest festivals. Last year saw a staggering 1.3 million people participate in over 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 TAStroFest astronomy 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, NewScientist and Popular Science.

National Science Week 2017 will run from 12 – 20 August. Event details can be found at