Lockdown science

Exclude from Home Page, National Science Week

Wednesday 18 August

Get through lockdown with science.

You and your family can contribute to real research projects without leaving home:

  • help map Aussie owls by listening to their calls
  • classify the coral, sand and sea creatures in the Great Barrier Reef.

Or you can explore:

  • virtually dive into the sea with Giant Australian Cuttlefish
  • or build the Universe Lego brick by Lego brick.

You can make your own hand sanitiser, or a lava lamp, or a marshmallow bridge.

You can find peace of mind with alternatives to meditation and mindfulness.

You can discover the future of no-kill meat, or Sydney’s backyard biodiversity.

You can explore nine forces of the Universe through the ABC series Phenomena on YouTube. Or just chill out with the dance mix on iView.

For more information read on or contact:

▪ 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

Can you find the owls in the night? Researchers recruiting Hoot Detectives – online

Hark, is that an owl hooting?

Researchers are after volunteers to help map five native Australian owl species, by listening to short recordings made in the bush. 

The idea is to hunt for Powerful, Barking, Boobook, Barn, and Masked owls.

The results will provide important information about the range and numbers of these beloved birds of prey. They will also help researchers develop artificial intelligence (AI) systems to use in a new field of science, known as “eco-acoustics”.

This nationwide project is called Hoot Detective, and is produced by ABC Science in collaboration with the Australian Acoustic Observatory for National Science Week.

Tuesday 10 – Tuesday 31 August. Visit: www.hootdetective.net.au.

Media enquiries: Ben Keirnan, ben@scienceinpublic.com.au or 0408 184 858.

Virtual Reef Diver: help classify what’s in the Great Barrier Reef – online

Virtual Reef Diver invites people to dive through their computer screens into the Great Barrier Reef.

They will review and classify underwater images of the Reef to help scientists identify areas of sand, coral and algae to help build a better picture of coral cover. This work will allow scientists and reef managers to make critical decisions to ensure that the Reef has a future.

QUT statistician Distinguished Professor Kerrie Mengersen is available for interviews.

Kerrie uses statistics to solve complex problems in the real world. She’s worked on the conservation of orangutans, cheetahs and jaguars in Peru, now she’s using statistical models to help reef managers better protect the Great Barrier Reef.

The project has been developed by the Queensland University of Technology, in collaboration with a host of scientific and community organisations. Photos and footage available.

Saturday 14 – Sunday 22 August. Event details: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/great-barrier-reef-science-celebration/ or www.virtualreef.org.au

Media enquiries: Angela Dahlke, a.dahlke@qut.edu.au or 0468 820 714

Swim with the Giant Australian Cuttlefish: virtual tour – online

An internationally unique marine phenomena occurs from May to August each year, in the cold water of Upper Spencer Gulf Marine Park near Whyalla.

Giant Australian Cuttlefish migrate to the rocky coastline with one thing on their mind – to breed.

More than 100 thousand cuttlefish, that only live for 12-18 months, can be found along this coastline.

Experts are available to discuss how the waning Cuttlefish population has recovered in recent years. And you can join a virtual tour to swim with the Giant Australian Cuttlefish.

Friday 6 – Tuesday 31 August. Event details: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/swim-with-the-giant-australian-cuttlefish-virtual-tour-3/

Media enquiries: Carl Charter, info@emsau.org or 0466 278 187.

Underwater photos and footage available.

Explore the Universe through VR on your phone – online

See the stars, fly by Jupiter’s red spot, and delve into the latest gravitational wave research — all without leaving town. Astrophysicists Professor Alan Duffy and Dr Rebecca Allen return to share the latest wonders of Australian-led astronomy research through SciVR, an immersive astronomy experience enabled by a virtual reality (VR) smartphone app.

Guided by Alan and Rebecca, 75 regional science centres, observatories and libraries will transform into virtual exploriums. For those you can’t leave home, there’s a livestreamed event.

Saturday 21 August. Online livestream: https://www.scienceweek.net.au/event/scivr-livestream/

Media enquiries: Rebecca Allen, rebeccaallen@swin.edu.au or 03 9214 5846       

Alan and Rebecca are available for media interviews.

Understanding the Universe, LEGO brick by brick – online

How did matter evolve over billions of years?

An explanation comes in the form of building the Universe’s evolutionary timeline with LEGO.

For a better understanding of the Big Bang, Manik Mahajan from The Young Stars Program is available for interview

Saturday 21 August. Event details: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/building-the-universe-brick-by-brick/

Media enquiries: Manik Mahajan, The Young Stars Program, manik.mahajan@anu.edu.au

Backyard astronomy, boozy bubbles, make your own hand sanitiser, and other DIY science – downloadable activities

There’s a suite of DIY science ideas, experiments and activities people can try at home or school.

These include exploring the colours in food plants, finding the mathematics in nature, making colour-change cocktails and creating art with minerals.


  • Study the bubbles in beer, soft drink, and sparkling wine
  • Engineer a marshmallow bridge
  • Make your own hand sanitiser
  • Concoct safe rocket fuel at home
  • Study the stars in the night sky
  • Build your own lava lamp
  • Create a float and sink experiment.

These and many more are online at www.scienceweek.net.au/diy-science/.

Can’t meditate? No stress – online

Finding peace of mind is not an easy road. And meditation doesn’t work for everyone.

Neuroscientist Dr Sarah McKay has tips on alternatives to meditation and mindfulness – to help switch off.

Thursday 19 August. Event details: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/cant-meditate-find-other-ways-to-manage-your-stress/

Media enquiries: drsarahmckay@gmail.com.

How to help an addict – online

Professor Dan Lubman is available to discuss how to help a friend or family member battling addiction.

He can explain why we get addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex or the internet and why we struggle to control our behaviour.

He will speak at the event ‘The Science of Us: rethink addiction’.

Thursday 19 August. Event details: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/the-science-of-us-rethink-addiction/

Media enquiries: Rebecca Lawrence, bookings@sl.nsw.gov.au or DanLaubman, dan.lubman@monash.edu.

Tomorrow’s farms: growing cellular meat and harvesting sunlight – online

Australia’s farms are going to change dramatically in the next 20 years, as farmers pivot to exporting sunlight and ethical meats.

The world will need more food and affluent communities will want more meat. That will create new farming opportunities, says UNSW researcher Professor Johannes le Coutre. He believes farmers will be:

  • growing legumes and other protein-rich plants to drive a process that will create foods free from animal meat
  • growing ethical or no-kill meats in vats using grass and other crops in what Johannes calls cellular agriculture
  • continuing to produce highest quality conventional beef and lamb for premium value markets in Australia and Asia. 

Australia is perfectly placed to lead the world in this agricultural revolution that will also bring an end to factory farming, says Johannes. 

Farmers will also be harvesting solar energy, both for the grid, and to make hydrogen for export to Asia says Ms Justine ‘JJ’ Jarvinen from UNSW’s Energy Institute.

Johannes and JJ are both available for interview.      

Now online. Video link: www.centreforideas.com/article/the-future-of-food

Media enquiries: Laura Boland, laura@scienceinpublic.com.au or 0408 166 426.

Seeing sound; explosive patterns from linseed oil and ink; electricity moving slowly through wood – online

Extreme cinematography captures everyday phenomena.

Photos and stunning video clips for print and online features for Science Week.

The clips and stills are from Phenomena, an ABC series of nine award winning episodes made by Josef Gatti and published through the ABC’s YouTube channel and Facebook and as a half-hour short film on ABC iView. Each film focuses on a force of nature.

More at www.scienceinpublic.com.au/media-releases/phenomena.

Science from the swamp to the scrub – online

Who was Australia’s very own dinosaur? Which nocturnal superhero animals only come out at night?

Which backyard weeds can be turned into a salad? How do ‘Snugglepot and Cuddlepie’ seeds travel through the country?

‘From Swamp to Scrub’ take people on a virtual tour through the wetlands of Centennial Park to the woodlands and scrub of Western Sydney Parklands (the city’s biggest backyard) to discover the plants and animals that call Australia’s biggest city home.

Saturday 14 August – Tuesday 14 September. Event details: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/from-swamp-to-scrub-virtual-event-2/

Media enquiries: Christian Eckardt, Christian.Eckardt@bgcp.nsw.gov.au, 02 9339 6664 or 0420 534 053.

About National Science Week

National Science Week is one of Australia’s largest festivals, first held in 1997. Last year about 1.1 million people participated in more than 1200 events, despite a global pandemic.

National Science Week 2021 runs from 14 to 22 August. Media kit at www.scienceinpublic.com.au. Or visit the National Science Week website for more events and activities: www.scienceweek.net.au.