Exploding watermelons, giant cave spiders, more mangoes, and saving our oceans

Plus dozens of Science Week stories around Queensland:

These are just a few of the events happening during this year’s National Science Week (August 14 to 22).

▪ Growing an agricultural economy
▪ The impact of acidification in our oceans
▪ What do whale songs tell us?
▪ The survival of ancient, giant spiders
▪ Help map Australia’s owls by listening to their calls

If you’re after more ideas for stories, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at www.scienceinpublic.com.au/science-week, and on Twitter at @SciWKMedia.

Scientists, performers, experts and event organisers are available for interview throughout National Science Week. Read on for contact details for each event, or call:

▪ 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:

Planet Ocean’s secrets revealed – online, via QLD

How does the oceanic food web work? How does light behave in water? Did you know the ocean is an incredible climate machine?

These are some of the topics and episodes of ‘Planet Ocean’, the second season of the podcast ‘Actually, it’s Phytoplankton!

Host Jamie Coull, and oceanographer co-hosts Lachlan McKinna and Ivona Cetinić present six oceanography lessons via podcast, with resource packs for primary and middle school kids.

Topics include the food web, the carbon cycle, ocean acidification, optical properties of water, arts in science, and DIY experiments. A live event in Toowoomba will feature a panel discussion and a marine illustration lesson by award-winning undersea artist Kirsten Carlson.

Saturday 14 – Sunday 22 August. Event details: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/actually-its-phytoplankton-planet-ocean-podcast/

Media enquiries: Jamie Coull, Go2Q Pty Ltd, jamie.coull@go2q.com.au, 07 5415 1733

Hosts Jamie, Lachlan and Ivona are available for media interviews.

The Big Watermelon Experiment: physics, forces and flying fruit

How many elastic bands will it take to make your watermelon explode? The Big Watermelon Experiment is a mass science experiment for school students. It has just one aim: to make melons go boom.

This nationwide event is guided by Dr Rob Bell, the former Scope TV presenter. See how to take part here.

Saturday 14 – Sunday 22 August. Event details: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/the-big-watermelon-experiment/

Media enquiries: Rob Bell, rob@experimentary.com.au or 0438 387 019

Rob is available for interviews. Photos and vision available. 

The science behind Central Queensland’s great foods – online, via QLD

Central Queensland is a rich source of a wide range of food from beef to black sesame seeds – and even Bundaberg ginger beer. The region ships mangoes and market vegetables around the country and beyond. But the growth and sustainability of the region’s agricultural economy relies heavily on science and innovation.

The CQUniversity Festival of Food highlights what is being done through a series of engaging scientific experiments for students and the broader community.

Industry, the education sector, and university experts will work together to develop the content, giving people a unique opportunity to explore the science behind Bundaberg food production, Gladstone’s fisheries, the Rockhampton beef industry, Mackay sugar production, and more.

Monday 16 – Friday 20 August. Event details: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/cq-festival-of-food-the-scientific-processes-involved-in-food/

Media enquiries: Linda Pfeiffer, 07 4970 7205, 0411547848 or l.pfeiffer@cqu.edu.au

What does a shark feel like? – Surfers Paradise, QLD

The study of ocean conservation includes touching sharks, watching jellyfish under a microscope or listening to whale songs.

Researchers are available to discuss the current threats to our sea creatures and why they must be saved.

There’s also a chance to become a citizen scientist, collecting data on the likes of whales and dolphins.

Sunday 22 August. Event details: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/into-the-depths-of-the-fascinating-world-of-whales-sharks-and-jellyfish/surfers-paradise/

Media enquiries: Dr Johan Gustafson, j.gustafson@griffith.edu.au or 0433 118 280; Dr Mariel Familiar, 0432 649 677.

Dr Johan Gustafson and Dr Mariel Familiar are available for media interviews.

Cave spiders the size of dinner plates – Charleville, QLD

Tasmanian has cave spiders, the size of dinner plates, that have crawled around for hundreds of millions of years.

Researchers have spent 30 years looking into their unique evolution, filming them over a period of seven years.

Documentary SIXTEEN LEGS: Enter the Cave is part of an exhibition that answers our many questions about spiders and how they survived for so long.

Co-director and producer Dr Niall Doran is available for interview.

Monday 23 August to Thursday 30 September. Event details: www.scienceweek.net.au/event/sixteen-legs-enter-the-cave-exhibition/charleville/

Media enquiries: Dr Niall Doran, Co-Director & Producer SIXTEEN LEGS, Director Bookend Trust, 0409 222 133, nd@bookendtrust.com

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

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

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.

It is proudly supported by the Australian Government; and partners CSIRO, the Australian Science Teachers Association and the ABC. More information: www.scienceweek.net.au.

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.