Slime moulds, wasp art, your racist brain, and robots on the catwalk

Media releases, National Science Week, Other

Saturday 18 August 2018

Highlights from day eight of National Science Week’s nine-day ‘week’

166 events and exhibitions, 13 online activities, and dozens of great stories and talent.

National and international talent, researchers, experts, and other interesting people available for interview around the country. Plenty of photo opportunities.


  • The lifecycle of a parasitic wasp as performance art—scientists perform their science

New South Wales

  • Kick the physics out of a footy, science and extreme sport at Sydney Olympic Park
  • Drones, 3D printing, and robots on the catwalk, in Wagga Wagga


  • Tasty science, snotty science, Antarctic secrets and the man headed to Mars, in Hobart
  • Sarah Lloyd says slime moulds are nature’s miniature jewels—ask and see why, in Westbury

Queensland (multiple locations)

  • Building, electrifying and making water drinkable: engineers for humanity show how it’s done


  • How your brain makes you racist: US neuroscientist Larry Sherman explains prejudice
  • The first robot story, staged in a working medical research lab

Perth Science Festival

  • Trash-talking eco faeries, trapdoor spiders, Trekkies, backyard biology, astronomy


  • The science, songs and stories of the night sky and Indigenous astronomy


  • Face-to-face with Frill Collins the frill neck lizard and Frida the tawny frogmouth.

Read on for more on these, including event contact details.

Also today:

National Science Week 2018 runs until 19 August. Media kit at Or visit the National Science Week website for the details of events in your area:

For general Science Week media enquiries:

Tanya Ha: or 0404 083 863
Niall Byrne: or 0417 131 977

More about the event highlights

Perform your science—Adelaide

From the life-cycle of a parasitic, caterpillar-munching wasp, to an emotional exploration of how we humans deal with ageing and frailty. A group of early career researchers and PhD students will tell the stories of their research through magic, dance, poetry and more.

Saturday 18 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Sheryn Pitman, or 08 8207 7382

Science meets sport at The Innovation Games—Sydney Olympic Park

Can you kick the physics out of a footy? How fast can you run in a sprint test? How far can you throw a spear? Or a boomerang?

The Innovation Games is a free family fun day full of sporting, science and technology action at the town centre of Sydney Olympic Park.

Activities include drone simulations, virtual reality gaming, BYO-device augmented reality challenges, Australian wildlife shows, sports and fitness challenges, wellbeing talks, participatory art, chemistry shows, research presentations, films, live to screen interviews, and social media live streaming throughout the day. The event will feature a science showcase at the GWS Giants vs Sydney Swans AFL Game at Spotless Stadium.

Saturday 18 August: Event details

Media contacts: Brett Morgan, or 02 9714 7985; or Matt Fraser,, 02 8065 7363 or 0401 326 007

Robots on the cat walk at the Riverina Science Festival 2018—Wagga Wagga

Chemistry in the kitchen, Indigenous science, robots strutting their stuff on the cat walk, and ‘The Robot Zoo’ are just some of the activities planned across Wagga Wagga for the week-long Riverina Science Festival.

The Robot Zoo will feature robotics, drones, 3D printing, presentations, films, and even a ‘Robot Petting Zoo’. The National Indigenous Science Education community program (NISEP) will be facilitated by the Riverina Science Hub partners and local Indigenous Elders, sharing both modern chemistry and ancient Indigenous science and technology.

Kitchen Science engages pre-schoolers, with experiments using easily sourced household items. The Citizen Science Biodiversity Blitz gets community members to explore and identify the wildlife of the Murrumbidya Wetlands. And CLOSER, the microscopic event, provides community access to a range of electro-microscopes and a quality large-scale microscope.

Saturday 18 August. Event details

Robotics digital projection (Thursday 9 August – Wednesday 5 September). Event details

Event enquiries: Wagga Wagga City Library, or 02 6926 9700

Tasty science, snotty science, Antarctic secrets and the man headed to Mars, all at the Festival of Bright Ideas—Hobart

  • Grossology: the science of snot, pus, wee, saliva, ear wax, blood, vomit, burps, farts and boogas—with ABC’s Lish Fejer
  • Mars One candidate Josh Richards on getting ready to live on the red planet
  • A lot of hot (and cold) air, and occasional humour, with Jeremy Just
  • How Tasmania’s flora, fauna and landscape have changed over the last 100,000 years
  • How science can help find solutions for Hobart’s traffic congestion
  • Questacon’s tasty science
  • What happens after you flush?
  • Gardens through the (multiple) eyes of an insect
  • A virtual reality tour of Hobart Town in the 1820s
  • Is there more to cats than eating and sleeping?
  • What secrets are hidden in Antarctica’s ice and snow?
  • Meet scientists from Tasmania’s top research institutes
  • Plus litter, LEGO, retro engineering, bush adventures, 3D printing, eels, eagles, and more.

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

Saturday 18 August Event details

Media enquiries: Sarah Bayne, or 03 6226 2716

Slime moulds: nature’s miniature jewels—Westbury

Ask Sarah Lloyd why plasmodia or ‘slime moulds’ love wet weather. Hear how these conditions make plasmodia become active and eventually form exquisite fruiting bodies.

Sarah will answer questions and bring a range of different species for close inspection. Participants can also view the exhibition ‘Slime Moulds – Nature’s miniature jewels’.

Acellular or plasmodial slime moulds have been placed in the kingdoms plant, fungi, animal and protista, based on their very different life stages comprising single-celled amebae, moving feeding plasmodia and spore-bearing ‘fruits’. They are now considered to be amoebozoans.

Saturday 18 August Event details

Media enquiries: Sarah Lloyd, or 03 6396 1380

Engineering for humanity—touring Queensland

Careers in engineering and science can give people the skills to make a difference in the world. The ‘EWB Humanitarian Engineering Outreach Workshops’ show you how through a series of interactive workshops.

Students and professional engineers from Engineers Without Borders Australia will run workshops exploring the science and engineering involved in energy, water and sanitation hygiene, and housing construction. Workshops will be held in major metro and regional locations.

Multiple dates and locations. Event details

Media enquiries: Sofie Thielemans 0413 513 783 or Chloe Lahiff 0424 684 440

You and your racist brain—Melbourne

Are humans wired to be prejudiced? Ask a neuroscientist.

In large part, racism stems from the human brain’s tendency to engage in prejudice, a process that allows our brains to make judgments based on visual information in milliseconds. These preconceived ideas about other people are based on instinct, rather than reason or experience—and they have a basis in neuroscience.

But why does the brain do this? More importantly, can we use what we know about the neuroscience of prejudice to overcome this reaction, potentially developing methods to combat prejudice and end racism?

Join Larry Sherman, a Professor of Neuroscience at the Oregon Health & Science University, who will explain how our brains react to people who are ‘different’ and explore possible ways to overcome the automatic prejudice that contributes to racism in our society.

Saturday 18 August. Event details

Media enquiries: Annika Priest, or 0413 058 509

RUR 2020: Robots from a classic sci-fi play in a real-life lab—St Vincent’s Hospital, Melbourne, VIC

The 1920s science fiction play Rossum’s Universal Robots by Karel Čapek introduced the word ‘robot’ to the English language. It was set in a factory-lab that fabricates flesh and blood artificial people from a special gel-like substance.

This ​August​, Melbourne biomedical research centre ​BioFab3D​ and immersive theatre company PlayReactive​ present a new play by local writer ​Rohan Byrne—​RUR 2020. Staged in a real laboratory​, this modern reimagining of Karel Čapek’s century-old masterpiece delves into the ethics of biofabrication—the manufacture of living tissues in the lab—and asks what price society is willing to pay in pursuit of a miracle cure.

Saturday 18 to Sunday 19 August Event details

Media enquiries: Alexandre Guérin on or 0406310861.

Rohan Byrne (writer), Georgia Symons (director) and Cathal O’Connell (BioFab3D manager) are available for interviews.

Perth Science Festival—Claremont

Trash-talking eco faeries, trapdoor spiders, Trekkies, backyard biology, astronomy, carnivorous plants, and big and bubbly science shows are on at the Claremont Showgrounds. Perth Science Festival has over 60 interactive stalls, explosive experiments, native animals, science theatre, roving performers, and more.

Join scientists and science-enthusiasts from Scitech, ASTRO 3D, ChemCentre, Bush Heritage Australia, Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, and WA’s universities and research institutions for two days of fun and informative science.

Saturday 18 to Sunday 19 August Event details

Media enquiries: Taylor Bartels, or 08 9215 0702

Southern Skies: one sky, many stories—Canberra & Sydney

What do the stars mean to you? Explore Australia’s night skies through music, astronomy and Indigenous science.

The Griffyn Ensemble—bringing together director Michael Sollis, Indigenous song writer Warren H Williams, and Astronomer Fred Watson—has been collecting stories and exploring Western and Indigenous Astronomy through the medium of music.

This collaboration began with The Griffyn Ensemble’s Southern Sky—a piece of music written by Estonian composer Urmas Sisask tracing the constellations that can be seen from Australia. The project recently travelled to Tennant Creek, where community members contributed their own stories, played to a soundtrack of songs written by Warren.

The result is One Sky, Many Stories, reworking Southern Sky alongside the new songs and stories. These performances bring together Western and Indigenous understandings of the night sky, told through music and the spoken word.

Saturday 18 August. Event details Belconnen, ACT

Saturday 25 August. Event details Extended play in Sydney, NSW

Media enquiries: Michael Sollis, or 0411 113 769

Meet the Top End’s wildlife—Nightcliff & The Gardens

Meet Frida the tawny frogmouth, Quilla the whistling kite, Sherbet the sugar glider, Frill Collins the frill neck lizard, Mr Slithers the rough-scaled python and Sodium the saltwater croc.

See the wildlife of the Top End at Bush Tales’ ‘Wildlife Workshops’ and learn about the science behind the survival of these creatures.

Kids and adults alike will get to meet native snakes, lizards, birds and more in these 60 minute sessions. It’s a unique opportunity to learn about the flora and fauna of Australia in a fun and engaging setting.

Saturday 18 August Event details

Media enquiries: Erin Costelloe, or 0421 669 058

Megafauna: in the shadow of the great beasts—Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory

This National Science Week, the Miocene is back on the scene. Back from the dead and ‘live’ as shadow puppets: Northern Territory’s ancient megafauna, including marsupial lions and tigers, mega-crocs, and Dromornis, the biggest bird that ever lived.

The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) fossil collection and local stories provide the source material for a show that brings Central Australia’s extinct megafauna to life. MAGNT will work with Barking Spider Visual Theatre to produce a captivating shadow puppetry installation to bring to life the stories of the ancient megafauna that once roamed throughout Central Australia over six million years ago. A season of public performances and hands-on arts-science workshops will take place at MAGNT in Darwin during Science Week.

Saturday 18 August Event details

Media enquiries: Tessa Duke, or 08 8936 4208