Across the state, event presenters are preparing for Australia’s national celebration of science that in NSW will take place online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Running from 13 -22 August, National Science Week is an opportunity for scientists to engage with the broader community and share their research knowledge in all kinds of engaging ways.
Among this year’s line-up are a wealth of entertaining virtual experiences to be enjoyed from home, from a masked ball, comedy shows and science art workshops to a science film festival, expert panels and lively debates around the issues of our times including climate change, sustainability, vaccinations, biotechnology and mental health.
Last year’s virtual offering saw over 70,000 NSW audience members engage with 167 online National Science Week experiences developed with support from Inspiring Australia NSW. With a more refined and interactive virtual program on offer this year, event organisers are again looking forward to achieving strong engagement.
“We’re fortunate in NSW through the Inspiring Australia strategy to collaborate with a talented network of science event producers,” said NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte. “They have been able, at very short notice as lockdowns came into force, to create engaging virtual programming such as the Sydney Science Trail developed by the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney and the Australian Museum, and From Swamp to Scrub produced by Greater Sydney Parklands.”
“Each of these major online programs presents entertaining digital content targeting children from the earliest years though to teenagers and adults. Among this year’s themes are the future of food, STEM careers, diversity, ocean science and sustainability.”
In a novel twist, this year’s programming will extend to the online platform Twitch, a platform where millions of young people gather online to watch video games being played.
“It’s great to see Sydney Science Trail’s producers make National Science Week relevant to young people who may not ordinarily engage with science,” said Professor Durrant-Whyte, adding that a hallmark of NSW’s approach is to take science where people go.
“There are only so many of us who’ll watch experts as they give lectures,” he said. “That’s why including science-themed video games, virtual lab tours, live-streamed comedy and science you can do outdoors or in the kitchen is so effective in reaching new audiences.”
Sydney Science Trail features a dedicated schools’ program that will be broadcast by the NSW Department of Education, which also joins forces with Inspiring Australia NSW to present a Q&A session open to all schools with Australia’s favourite science writer Dr Karl.
Regional producers will contribute a number of engaging programs including online art and animation workshops to animate Canowindra’s famous Devonian fish fossils.
Those seeking a more serious serve of science will not be disappointed.
“Among the dozens of online discussions you can join throughout the week to connect with leading experts are those addressing Antarctic climates, STEM cells and bioprinting, space weather, robotics, future medicine and marine science to loneliness, addiction and Indigenous scientific and cultural knowledge. I’d also encourage you to attend a keynote presentation from Inspiring Australia NSW’s incoming Executive Committee Chair Corey Tutt, the founder of Deadly Science,” said Prof Durrant-Whyte, who also thanked the NSW science community for its efforts in delivering this year’s program.
“By making science accessible to thousands of community members in National Science Week, you participate in the critical national science engagement strategy to raise awareness of the important work undertaken by Australian scientists to solve the world’s most pressing problems while contributing to Australia’s prosperity and wellbeing.”
Inspiring Australia is the national strategy for public engagement with science technology and innovation, and National Science Week is its flagship campaign, running each August since 1997.