An Aussie astronaut, plants fighting climate change, scientists’ drag battle, and a giant Poo Palace

Exclude from Home Page, Media releases, National Science Week

Dozens of Science Week stories around New South Wales

  • An Aussie astronaut, art therapy, deep sea science, space junk and Sky Country –all at the Sydney Science Festival.
  • Newcastle’s giant inflatable Poo Palace recreates the journey of food, from lips to loo.
  • What’s the role of plants, wetlands and phytoplankton in tackling climate change?
  • What’s the secret to happiness? An 85-year-long scientific study has some ideas.
  • Scientists by day; drag performers by night. Who will be crowned the ‘ultimate drag scientist’?
  • Who makes the ‘laws’ in space? When do you need to call a space lawyer? Who can mine the moon? – Newcastle.
  • Indigenous science, song-lines and stars – Wollongong.
  • Meet the super microbes who could save us from plastic – Orange, Sydney & Newcastle.
  • Marshmallow bazookas, leaf-blower levitation, and explosive liquid nitrogen with Dr Graham in Goulburn.
  • Become a poo, race a solar car, explore the moon – Newcastle.
  • Floods, storms and the Wyangala dam: a First Nation perspective – Wyangala.

More on these highlights below.

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

Read on for direct contact details for each event, or contact Tanya Ha – or 0404 083 863.

Visit to find more stories in your area.

Media centre here. Images for media here.

National Science Week in NSW: highlights

An Aussie astronaut, art therapy, deep sea science, space junk and Sky Country – Sydney Science Festival is back

  • On course to become one of the first Australian females in orbit: meet engineer Dr Meganne Christian, a European Space Agency reserve astronaut.
  • Meet the first Pacific Islander to visit the deepest point of the Mariana Trench – visiting acclaimed ocean scientist Dr Nicole Yamase on ocean conservation.
  • Atmospheric Memory by Mexican artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer – interact with artworks in an immersive exhibition filled with light, sound and projections that make the atmosphere tangible.
  • Country and Sky: Australian space archaeologist Dr Alice Gorman (‘Dr Space Junk’) and Gamilaraay astrophysicist Karlie Noon on the connection between astronomy and cultural heritage, and the future of Australians in space.
  • What we must do to save the Great Barrier Reef: Ove Hoegh-Guldberg in conversation with Nate Byrne.
  • Cell therapy: engineering immune cells to treat cancer.
  • Art therapy and the brain: hear from scientists and artists.

Hear from compelling speakers on science’s hot topics. Sydney Science Festival is back with events in multiple locations around Sydney and online.

Friday 11 – Saturday 20 August. Multiple dates and locations.

Media enquiries: Siân Davies,, 0402 728 462; or Sasha Haughan,, 0405 006 035

Most speakers are available for media interviews.

Step inside the Poo Palace – Newcastle

Experience the journey that food goes on, and ask the experts about digestion, farts and faeces, gut health and good bacteria.

The Poo Palace is a giant inflatable re-creation of the digestive system where children take a sensory adventure through the gastrointestinal tract, from lips to lavatory.

The Poo Palace is made up of 4 modules that mimic the journey food takes along the digestive tract (mouth, stomach, small intestine, large intestine).

Children learn first-hand how food moves through the body, and through live experiments with researchers from the Hunter Medical Research Institute.

Saturday 12 – Sunday 20 August:

Media enquiries: Tracy McKelligott,

Climate solutions you wish you knew about – how plants can help us tackle climate change – Sydney

What can we learn from the way plants adapt to changes in climate?

How will plants handle sea level rise? What role do our urban green spaces play? What does a more-acidic ocean mean for the very tiny but important seaweeds at the bottom of the food chain?

Ask the experts:

  • Plants in smart green cities – Prof Michelle Leishman, Macquarie University
  • Wetlands weathering climate change – Prof Neil Saintilan, Macquarie University
  • Microalgae in a warming and acidifying marine environment – A/Prof Katherina Petrou, University of Technology Sydney
  • Protecting plants and fungi from diseases and other threats – Dr Brett Summerell, Australian Institute of Botanic Science, Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, Sydney.

Dr Brett Summerell, Chief Botanist and Director Science, Education and Conservation at Botanic Gardens of Sydney is available for interviews.

Tuesday 15 August:

Media enquiries: Botanic Gardens of Sydney media, or 02 9231 8122.

Unlocking the secret to happiness – Kensington

What if the secrets to unlocking a happier life were right in front of you? An 85-year-long scientific study may have cracked the code to living a fulfilling and meaningful life. Spoiler alert: the key lies in the power of our relationships.

Meet Robert Waldinger, author of this remarkable study, and Dr Stephanie Ward, expert geriatrician on ABC’s Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds and Teenagers.

Wednesday 16 August:

Media enquiries: UNSW Centre for Ideas –, 02 9065 0485.

Scientists in drag battle – Ultimo

Scientists by day and drag performers by night. Meet the performers mixing scientific concepts with drag. Who will be crowned the ‘ultimate drag scientist’?

Hear from host, ‘bimbo biologist and flaming homosexual’, Dr Naomi Koh Belic, along with:

  • Radha – culinary scientist
  • Milton MANgo – a country bloke who cracks a whip (Lee Constable of The Conversation and Scope)
  • ‘gaysian empress of Sydney’, Dyan Tai with a live music experiment
  • Diva Attenbra – wildlife biologist at UNSW, drag performer and comedian who can talk about gay animals.

Thursday 17 August:

Media enquiries: Dr Naomi Koh Belic or 0422 213 119.

Are we space-industry ready? – Newcastle

Who makes the ‘laws’ in space? When do you need to call a space lawyer? Who can mine the moon? How can school kids get space-industry ready?

And what space-themed drinks should we sip while pondering the universe?

Get the inside scoop on the big emerging questions about space at Newcastle Museum or via a livestream.

Dr Scott Sleap is available for interview. He is a specialist in space and STEM education. He’s collaborated with NASA, Lockheed Martin, and the White House, and advises the Australian Space Agency.

Sunday 20 August: Event details:

Media enquiries: Scott Sleap, Sleap Business Consultants Pty Ltd,, 0409 366 504

Indigenous science, song-lines and stars – Wollongong

Step into the planetarium at the University of Wollongong and discover how Indigenous knowledge and science can help future-proof Australia’s biodiversity and ancient heritage.

Learn about the Whale Songlines that connect First Nations along the East Coast of Australia – with Dr Jodi Edwards, a proud Dharawal Custodian.

Hear how the Seven Sisters star cluster influences Indigenous Songlines, oral traditions and resources calendar – with Dr Robert Fuller, Adjunct Fellow at the School of Science, Western Sydney University and member of Australian Indigenous Astronomy.

Wednesday 16 August:

Media enquiries: Theresa Larkin,, 0406 572 148; Stuart Creal Director of the UOW Science Space,, 02 4286 5000.

Meet the super microbes who could save us from plastic – Sydney, Orange & Newcastle

We’ve used microbes to create bread, wine and cheese for thousands of years.

Now, scientists can modify microbes in tiny cellular ‘factories’ to replace many of the products currently produced by fossil fuels. And they give microbes ‘superpowers’ to gobble up plastic.

Hear from the synthetic biologists who have created the card game ‘Remediate!’, where players give microbe characters the right genes to remove the most plastic from different environments.

Orange: Wednesday 16 August:

Sydney: Friday 18 August:

Newcastle: Sunday 20 August:

Media enquiries: Mary O’Malley, or 0438 881 124.

Science you can do at home…and some you really shouldn’t! – Goulburn

Dr Graham has some DIY science experiments you can try at home – and a few you definitely should not!

From marshmallow bazookas to leaf-blower levitated basketball, to grown-ups holding explosive liquid nitrogen, Dr Graham can talk about classic science phenomena, and his brand-new experiments.

Dr Graham is available for media interviews.

Thursday 17 August:

Media enquiries: Graham Walker, or 0438 640 733.

Become a poo, race a solar car, explore the moon – Newcastle

Race mini solar vehciles, get digested in the inflatable poo palace, explore giant maps of the Moon and Mars, climb aboard a garbage truck, and plant a pollinator to take home.

The Hunter Science Festival returns to showcase local innovation from the Hunter region.

STEM education expert, Dr Scott Sleap is available for interviews.

Sunday 20 August. Event details:

Media enquiries: Laura Boland, Hunter Innovation and Science Hub, 0408 166 426.

Floods, storms and the Wyangala dam: a First Nation perspective – Wyangala

What do major flood events mean for people with a strong connection to Country? How can we better understand the relationship between environmental impact and cultural impact?

WYANGALA is a First Nation culturally led science program guided by local First Nation scientists, arts-workers and knowledge holders.

It explores flood-related environmental impact, focussing on habitat, natural ecologies, and riparian health – a vitally important topic following the late 2022 Wyangala Dam water release on the heels of severe storms that devastated the region.

WYANGALA aims to deepen an understanding of the symbiosis between humans, natural events, and the environment, while highlighting the conservation of local ecosystems and habitat. Participants will learn how to identify plants and medicines for cultural use and broaden their knowledge of traditional fire management practice and Indigenous sky stories.

Saturday 12 August:

Media enquiries: Phoebe Cowdery, or 0413 910 697

What is Australia’s favourite animal sound?

Do you love the summer night sounds of cicadas? Or the outback howl of dingoes? Are you intrigued by the lyrebird’s mimicry or the mating croaks of frisky frogs?

The search is on to find our most-loved Aussie animal sound. This National Science Week, ABC Science wants people to go online to eavesdrop on the animal kingdom, explore the wonder and science of bioacoustics, and vote for their favourite call of the wild.

Twenty-five different animal sounds have been selected by ABC’s resident nature-lovers in consultation with scientists so that people can get to know our local tweets, howls, bellows, barks, chirps, croaks and calls, and vote for their favourites.

Monday 31 July – Friday 18 August:

Media enquiries: Laura Boland, or 0408 166 426.

About National Science Week

National Science Week is Australia’s annual opportunity to meet scientists, discuss hot topics, do science and celebrate its cultural and economic impact on society—from art to astrophysics, chemistry to climate change, and forensics to future food.

First held in 1997, National Science Week has become one of Australia’s largest festivals. Last year about 1.9 million people participated in more than 1,650 events and activities. 

The festival is proudly supported by the Australian Government, CSIRO, the Australian Science Teachers Association, and the ABC.

In 2023 it runs from Saturday 12 to Sunday 20 August. Event details can be found at