WA: Count cuttlefish, map quokka genomes, and make a melon go boom

National Science Week

Great National Science Week stories and talent up for grabs around Western Australia, including:

  • Take up the challenge to change the future of our oceans?
  • Flying doctors: saving lives while flying thousands of metres above sea level
  • How much sunlight is good for your health?
  • Can big data help save the quokka, koala and wallaby?
  • Hit the beach in Kalgoorlie
  • How many rubber bands can a watermelon withstand?
  • Which would win in a fight: the ocean or Mars?
  • Become a Carbon Counter and join the challenge cut our contribution to climate change.

More on these highlights below, and others at www.scienceinpublic.com.au/science-week, and on Twitter at @SciWKMedia.

Scientists, artists, performers and event organisers are available for interview throughout 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

Individual event details and media contacts

Deeper Blue Changemaker Challenges

Estimate giant Australian cuttlefish numbers by watching video taken by underwater robots, create seaweed spheres from edible plastic, come up with ways to change the future of our oceans. 

These hands-on and brains-on Changemaker Challenges are part of WA’s Deeper Blue online festival, exploring the resources of the ocean, marine science, the blue economy and innovation. Prizes include swims with the sharks, and the chance to develop your ideas.

More details on each of the challenges can be found here.

A day in the life of the Royal Flying Doctor Service

Ask the doctors, nurses and pilots of Perth’s Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) what it’s like to be part of the team.

  • How does the operations centre run and what happens when an emergency call comes in?
  • What do the doctor and nurse do before, during and after an emergency flight?
  • How do they keep their aircraft flying, what type of aircraft to they use, what to the engineers do?
  • What medical equipment is carried on the aircraft?

This online webinar is an opportunity to learn more about the RFDS and see how it relies on science, technology, engineering and maths.

Monday 17 August. Event details

Sun Health with Dr Shelley Gorman — Clarkson

Learn about the role of sunlight exposure in good health from Dr Shelley Gorman, a leading health researcher from the Telethon Kids Institute.

In this Wanneroo Libraries event she will discuss how sunlight could be used to treat obesity and type-2 diabetes, and how Vitamin D may have a role in stopping some chronic and autoimmune conditions.

The library will also be giving away a small number of copies of Chasing the Sun: The New Science of Sunlight and How it Shapes Our Bodies and Minds, by Linda Geddes.

Wednesday 19 August. Event details

A Day @ DNA Zoo

How do you 3D-map a genome? Can big data help save the quokka, koala and wallaby?

The Australian branch of DNA Zoo thinks so. DNA Zoo is an international consortium helping conservation efforts through rapid generation and release of high-quality genetic data.

Jump online to watch a live DNA lab investigation.   

The event also introduces a new social enterprise, BioBarcode Australia, which will bring DNA technologies to schools and the community. Suitable for Years 10,11,12 STEM focused students.

Wednesday 19 August. Event details

Meet the Scientists – Sign Me Up!—Perth & Bunbury

This program allows children who are deaf and hard of hearing to meet scientists from all different disciplines, from astrophysics to robotics. Auslan Interpreters and brunch are provided. Siblings and friends welcome.

There will be sessions in Perth and Bunbury.

Organised by the WA Foundation for Deaf Children,  the program is geared  to children aged between 6 and 12, providing them with exposure to science as a career pathway, building confidence in scientific concepts and inspiring them through science.

Participants will meet six scientists, learn about their work, ask questions and do hands-on activities in an accessible and inclusive environment.

Guests at the Perth event include microbiologist Rina Fu, robotics expert Tane Pendragon, parasitologist Cindy Palermo, astrophysicist Christene Lynch, geologist Richard Hingston, and meteorologist Jessica Lingard.

Perth: Sunday 16 August. Event details

The Bunbury event will feature microbiologist Rina Fu, robotics expert Tane Pendragon, parasitologist Cindy Palermo, and astrophysicist Christopher Jordan.

Bunbury: Sunday 23 August. Event details

Event type: in person

Zero Waste Workshop—Hopetoun

Join Joelie Russell, Sea Shepherd’s volunteer marine debris coordinator, for a workshop on reducing our plastic footprint. And then meet up in the morning to clean up the local beach.

She will share her experiences working to reduce plastic pollution in the Cocos Islands, Western Australia and Arnhem Land.

Friday 21 August. Event details

Event type: in person

A Visit to the Beach – Kalgoorlie-Boulder Style

Kalgoorlie is a very long way inland, but 2.5 billion years ago it was right on the coast. Join researchers from the WA Museum for a virtual stroll along this ancient beach.

What do the rocks tell us about conditions back then? Watch an experiment to discover which way the wind was blowing when the waves were rolling in.

Thursday 20 August. Event details

Event type: Online

Curtin University Big Watermelon Experiment—Bentley

How many rubber bands does it take to implode a watermelon? Take part in Curtin University’s big, fruity and very messy science experiment. Predict, plan, explore the forces at work and participate in this mass collaboration.

Watch University teams compete to see which can implode the watermelon the fastest. Join a collaborative experiment by placing your rubber band on a watermelon. Will yours be the one to make the melon go boom?

Wednesday 19 August. Event details

Event type: in person

Oceans vs space: the battle of the final frontiers—Perth

Space and our ocean are often described as the final frontiers of science. But which is better?

Why have we mapped more of the surface of Mars and the Moon than Earth’s ocean floors. Should we be exploring the depths of the seas or the outer reaches of space?

Astronomer Kat Ross and adventurer James Dingley will argue the case for each frontier in this lively online debate.

Wednesday 19 August Event details

Great Southern Great Science Symposium 2020—Albany

Indigenous food plants, penguins, geology and threatened species fighting back: discover some of the exciting research happening in WA’s Great Southern region in this day of entertaining short talks.

The Great Southern Great Science Symposium showcases local science, experts and initiatives, organised by the Great Southern Science Council and the Museum of the Great Southern.

Friday 14 August. Event details

Event type: in person

Carbon Counter: cut your contribution to climate change—national

How much carbon will you pledge to save this National Science Week? Put on a jumper when you’re cold, cut your shower time, eat roo or fish instead of beef, cycle instead of driving. These are some of the small changes that you, your household or your school can adopt to reduce your carbon footprint.

Join in at Carbon Counter, a countrywide challenge produced by the ABC. See what savings your lifestyle hacks will make and pledge to make a difference.

The Carbon Counter project invites individuals, households and schools to make small changes to day-to-day energy, food and transport use with the aim of reducing greenhouse gas production.

A running tally of the tonnes of carbon saved shows the collective impact of you and your fellow challengers.

Visit: www.abc.net.au/carboncounter.

Researchers and science communicators available for interviews.

Media enquiries: Andrew Masterson, andrew@scienceinpublic.com.au, 03 9398 1416 or 0488 777 179

About National Science Week

National Science Week is one of Australia’s largest festivals. Last year 1.5 million people participated in more than 2050 events around the country, in metropolitan, regional and remote locations.

In 2020, the festival is almost entirely virtual, online, DIY and well-spaced. This means most events, large and small, is open to anyone, no matter where they live.

National Science Week 2020 will run from 15 to 23 August. Media kit at www.scienceinpublic.com.au, public event listings at www.scienceweek.net.au.