About Lisa Bailey

ASC President 2019

ASC Online 2021: Trivia Night Social!

To make sure that we are all still able to connect, this year’s conference social event will be an online pub-less trivia, presented with the help of Pint of Science Australia.

It will be a fast-paced and fun
networking trivia event that you won’t want to miss, so make sure to join at
6:30 pm AEDT / 6:00 ACDT / 5:30 AEST / 5:00 ACST / 3:30 AWST to ensure you are
logged-in and that you have the tech all sorted out. The event will start
exactly at 6:45 pm AEDT and will end no later than 8:30 pm AEDT.

You won’t need to coordinate a
team (we’ll do that for you) and there will be prizes – so if you’ve got a few
people at home attending the symposium, make sure you’re in different rooms or
wearing headphones so your housemate can’t steal off your answers! You’ll need
a mic/camera so you can meet and talk with your team, and a keyboard.

So, bring yourself, your
creativity and a bevvy and get ready to flex your brain-muscles from the
comfort of your couch.

The event is free (included with
your symposium fee – we didn’t have to organise catering!). Final details and
links will be emailed to all symposium attendees on the morning of Thursday 18

ASC Online 2021 Program

Day 1: Wednesday 17 November 2021

Chaired by Research stream convenors Dr Heather Bray and Dr Will Grant Please note that all times shown are in Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time.
Time Session
Welcome remarks Keynote presentation: Ullrich Ecker –  The continued influence of misinformation
3.40pm Research: Will Rifkin – Are we really talking about ‘communication’ or is it something bigger? Nic Badullovich – The current practice of climate change communication in Australia: insight from interviews with practitioners Discussion:Facilitated Q&A with speakers
4.15pm Short Break
4.30pm-5.30pm Research: Samantha Papavasiliou – Adopting new innovation Julian O’Shea – Adventure for Impact: Sustainable Journeys as an Innovative Approach for Science Communication Kyla Adams – Modern physics in the classroom – The long-term effects on student attitudes towards science Jennifer Manyweathers – Feral pigs in Australia: Friends and Foes and impacts on communication about management Toss GascoigneWhat do other countries call ‘science communication’? Discussion, Session summary and close

Day 2: Thursday 18 November 2021

Chaired by Science communication in practice stream convenors Dr Jen Martin and Dr Tom Carruthers
Time Session
3.00pm Welcome remarks
3.06pm Science communication in practice Lightning Talks #1 Click here for talk abstracts Johanna Howes and Amanda Kruger – Astronomy online: making a Planetarium accessible Clare Mullen – Weather from our lounge rooms! Communicating during COVID-19 lockdown(s). Jay Ridgewell – Nature relation: beyond facts, fun & scientific literacy for influencing behavioural change Nancy Longnecker – Aotearoa Stories in Sound – Podcasts that Connect with Nature Panel discussion with presenters
3.36pm Science communication in practice Lightning Talks #2 Click here for talk abstracts Toby Hendy – TikTok, YouTube and the Power of Online Science Communication Larissa Fedunik- Engaging maths academics in YouTube content creation Ned Watt – Fact-checking goes viral: three opportunities to champion truth Amelia Travers – #SciCommSeptember Panel discussion with presenters
4.06pm Science communication in practice Lightning Talks #3 Click here for talk abstracts Claire Harris – The search for case studies Wendy Preston and Adam Selinger – Dynamic and engaging online workshops Laura Phan and Dylan DeLosAngeles – What happens when museums replace masking mistakes with transparent troubleshooting? Patrick Helean – Rubbish Science – Think outside of the bin Panel discussion with presenters
4.36pm Science communication in practice Lightning Talks #4 Click here for talk abstracts Wildaliz De Jesús Arocho – Mental Health and Our Changing Climate for policymakers Indigo Strudwicke – Flexible approaches to knowledge brokering between research disciplines and stakeholders Hayley Teasdale – Science advice for emerging issues Panel discussion with presenters
5.06pm 5.20pm Science communication in practice Lightning Talks #5 Click here for talk abstracts Simon Torok, Sonia Bluhm and Alysha Huxley – The highs (and lows) of science communication consulting Catherine Wheller – From PhD to Communications Manager: Tips for the Pivot Closing remarks and short break
5.45pm-6.15pm Australian Science Communicators Annual General Meeting
6.15pm-6.45pm Break
6.45pm-8.15pm Social event Pint of Science present the Great ASC Trivia Night

Day 3: Friday 19 November 2021

Chaired by Science, Art and Design stream convenors Dr David Harris and Dr Jo Bailey
Time Session
3.00pm Welcome remarks Keynote Presentation: Leah Barclay – Interdisciplinary methods to engage communities in conservation
3.30pm Workshop: Fiona Hillary –Posthuman perspectives for scicomm Showcase talk: Ant Nevin – Materialising Data and Science
4.15pm Break
4.30pm In conversation: Art and Design perspectives on science communication chaired by David Harris Workshop: Jo Bailey – Workshop: Mani-Mirofestos: crowdsourcing ideas from highly-opinionated people
5.20pm Science Cocktails with David Harris
5.30pm End of ASC Online 2021

ASC Online: Science Communication in Practice

Johanna Howes and Amanda Kruger, Science Space Wollongong –
Astronomy online: making a Planetarium accessible

When it comes to science, Astronomy seems to be universally fascinating. For us at Science Space, this is something we’ve taken advantage of for our 32 years of operation. At the moment, we have one of the most digitally advanced planetarium systems in Australia and we use it to engage with people of all ages. Until the pandemic forced us online, we exclusively catered to Greater Sydney and South Coast locals as well as tourists visiting the area. But with the reach afforded to us by the internet, we started to see groups from across the country. This raised a number of interesting opportunities for us. In this flash talk, we’re going to briefly describe our experiences turning a three dimensional planetarium dome into an online, interactive experience. We’ll discuss the unexpected benefits of running this kind of show, as well as where we see this program going in the future.

Clare Mullen, Bureau of Meteorology –
Weather from our lounge rooms! Communicating during COVID-19 lockdown(s).

How best to continue Bureau of Meteorology (Bureau) communications, with many staff working remotely due to COVID lockdowns? Production staff for videos and webinars were mostly Melbourne-based and working remotely at home, as Melbourne became the lockdown capital of the world. Best quality Bureau videos would usually involve a production studio, TV broadcast camera, and video editing software that requires large computing resources. Innovative solutions, patience, teamwork – including Microsoft Teams – and attention to detail helped adapt to remote work. BOMWebinars also continued as a popular communication channel during COVID lockdown, as attendance numbers continued to climb. Customer engagement hit new highs at the recent BOMWebinar Winter 2021 climate and water update with 543 live attendees – the highest attendance to date over three years of webinars. Webinars allow for a large group of customers from a variety of sectors to receive an in-depth briefing from Bureau experts, and the opportunity to have their questions answered by the experts. All BOMWebinars are recorded and available on-demand on the Bureau’s YouTube channel, with over 1,000 views for each webinar. These new practices now allow for future work flexibility and best service delivery.

Jay Ridgewell, Held Outside –
Nature relation: beyond facts, fun & scientific literacy for influencing behavioural change

Depending on your view, the planet is in crisis, or soon will be. I’m wondering if there’s a way to accelerate the widespread behavioural change that science communication aims for; to move us towards sustainable, regenerative communities who understand Earth’s limits and live within them. I started out in science education, and leant into public engagement in science through fun and explosions. As my experience developed, I moved towards strong key messages of scientific literacy: how science works and relates to us all. Coming to full grips with the global predicaments in the last few years, I have found that adjusting my understanding of self as part of ‘nature’ and spending much more time in it has helped me deal with grief and also dealt out a surprising amount of exquisite joy. Now as a nature and forest therapy guide, I’m investigating how I can use my skills to facilitate groups to strengthen their relationships with the more-than-human world. I am realising that this is how indigenous cultures have sustained regenerative communities for tens of thousands of years. The research behind nature relation or connectedness is growing, and overlaps across fields of psychology, behavioural science, sociology, medicine, ecology and systems thinking. At the least, it’s good for our individual health. At best, it’s a route to transforming design, culture and ecology.

Nancy Longnecker, University of Otago – Aotearoa Stories in Sound – Podcasts that Connect with Nature

Aotearoa Stories in Sound records sounds that are meaningful to New Zealanders, archives sounds and soundscapes, and produces inspiring podcasts. Two series – Dunedin Stories in Sound and Tune into Nature – are currently being broadcast on local community radio, and made available as podcasts. Sounds are familiar to Kiwis (the call of the melodious bellbird) or more exotic (a sperm whale recorded against the backdrop of seismic air guns). Dunedin Stories in Sound explores soundscapes and listening in a noisy, industrialised world, through its focus on the sounds, wildlife and stories of Dunedin’s marine environments. This podcast encourages listeners to tune into their sonic environments, aiming to inspire a sense of stewardship and awe for local wild spaces, such as the Dunedin harbour. Tune into Nature aims to bring listeners closer to Mother Earth, Papatūānuku, by sharing sounds and soundscapes from Otago’s coastal ecosystems – the resounding dawn chorus of Orokonui Ecosanctuary, waves softly crashing on sandy beaches, and the grunt of Sea Lions. Aotearoa Stories in Sound welcomes public participation, with invitations to make suggestions of sounds for recording or to contribute recordings. This ongoing project is a journey exploring unique New Zealand stories and soundscapes, starting locally in Otago.

Toby Hendy,
TikTok, YouTube and the Power of Online Science Communication

With over two billion users per month, online social media video platforms, notably TikTok and YouTube, present an exceptional opportunity for science communicators to reach a large audience. Unlike face-to-face activities, however, there are some distinct challenges associated with this. This includes the technical and creative side of video storytelling, through to making successful videos on algorithmic-powered platforms. This talk is a look behind the curtain at what it takes to communicate effectively on these platforms, sharing analytics, tools and advice. Based on real-world experience, the talk provides guidance for science communicators interested in using these platforms and how to overcome challenges including starting a brand new channel, how to deal with an online audience (and their varied feedback), and creating videos for that work for both viewers and the platform. The presenters are experienced science communicators: Toby Hendy (Tibees) makes videos about physics, math, astronomy and the history of science to her audience of over 700,000 subscribers with over 80 million views; and Julian O’Shea is a professional engineer and academic who has over 10 million views, and 100,000+ subscribers, and explores design, cities, including the popular Unknown Melbourne series.

Larissa Fedunik – Engaging maths academics in YouTube content creation

As the second-most accessed website worldwide (Alexa, 2020), YouTube presents unique benefits and concerns for science communication. With its broad reach, the platform is adept at engaging the public through educational and entertaining science content, but it has also been flagged as a hotbed of misinformation (Scheufele & Krause, 2019). One way to tackle misinformation is to directly engage scientists, academics and other subject matter experts when producing video content. However, it has been noted that individual academics are a relative rarity amongst educational content creators on YouTube (Maynard, 2021). This case study focuses on two video profiles of academics produced in my capacity as communications coordinator for the Sydney Mathematical Research Institute’s YouTube channel. I discuss how the featured academics take a proactive role in the storyboarding and narrative stages of video production, providing scientific and creative direction and feedback. This allows time-constrained academics to dip their toes into the world of content creation without the demands of becoming YouTube science “stars”. I will also discuss the unique challenges of communicating mathematics research to a general audience, using the examples of a pure mathematician specialising in hyperbolic geometry, and an applied mathematician who develops models for physical processes.

Ned Watt – Fact-checking goes viral: three opportunities to champion truth

Fact checkers have long supported science writers by ensuring that all the “facts” are correctly represented. In response to numerous surges of online misinformation brought about by informational deficiencies and political group agendas, fact-checking organisations have multiplied and connected on a global scale. In October 2021, the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) held its 8th annual conference. The conference laid out the experiences, some unique, some universal, of fact-checking organisations from Norway to South Africa. This talk focuses on the dramatic changes experienced by the fact-checking community during the COVID-19 pandemic and the deficiencies these changes have exposed. I will look under the bonnet of the fact-checking community during the COVID-19 pandemic and discuss three potential responses to our current pathological information environment: technological augmentation, the promotion of protective fact checking practice, and a culture of collaboration between fact checkers and allied stakeholders. In combination, these opportunities could improve the productivity, safety, and sustainability of fact checkers and support policy efforts to stem the flow of online misinformation beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. The experiences of those verifying scientific information in environments filled with misinformation, hold important lessons for science communicators and the publics they serve.

Amelia Travers, Avid Research –

In 2021 I created a set of Science Communication challenges to inspire STEM professionals to post on social media more regularly during September. This challenges was linked to, and inspired by my podcast Avid Research. In this talk I will discuss how #SciCommSeptember came to be. What I have learned about the #SciComm community and STEM professionals on social media more broadly, and how I hope to expand and improve the challenge next year.

Claire Harris, Innovate Communicate, The search for case studies

Communication and marketing are expanding fields and getting more complex with new digital marketing tools rapidly emerging. However, case studies of how communication and marketing is used in science, technology, engineering and mathematics are hard to find outside of academia.

As a practitioner in science communication and marketing, as owner of a business called Innovate Communicate, I am always keen to learn and share what works and what doesn’t. In this talk I’ll speak about what I have been searching for and where I’ve tripped up. And I’ll share some collaboration ideas and ask for input from the science communication community.

Wendy Preston and Adam Selinger, Children’s Discovery –
Dynamic and engaging online workshops

Being relative novices at presenting online science workshops, we went flat out for the recent National Science Week and Spring school holidays, delivering thirteen 6o minute sessions and six 3½ hour sessions.

The key points to what worked were:
1. Keeping things dynamic by maintaining lots of interaction such as mentioning children by name, seeking answers to questions, describing what we could see they were doing, encouraging non-verbal communication, using the chat.
2. Developing workshops being mindful of what can be described and demonstrated when not face-to-face. Ensuring sessions were accessible by only including experiments and activities that required easy-to-find materials from home or the supermarket and encouraging an attitude of ‘making do’ with what was available. We even developed workshops around the theme “what has everyone got at home?”, for example ‘Playful Paper’ used paper to explore different topics including topology, engineering, centre of mass and air resistance.
3. Having a second staff as ‘producer’ for larger groups, who could answer questions, look for hands up, monitor and answer the chat, scroll between multiple ‘pages’ of screens. They could also interact with the main presenter if a workshop had no or few cameras on.
4. Continuing the engagement by providing post-event @home handouts.

Laura Phan and Dylan DeLosAngeles, MOD. at UniSA –
What happens when museums replace masking mistakes with transparent troubleshooting?

The Custom-Made Demonstrator is part of the 2021 It’s Complicated exhibition at UniSA’s MOD. It showcases the role of robots in on-demand, customer-led manufacturing, alongside the smart sensor controlled vehicles that define Industry 4.0 – today’s industrial revolution. Due to the number of moving parts in the demonstrator, we anticipated occasional malfunctions, troubleshooting, and fine-tuning. Previous exhibition approaches to major faults ranged from ‘out of order’ signs and after-hours repairs, to closing galleries entirely during troubleshooting. However, for It’s Complicated we utilised an open door approach, i.e. galleries were kept open while floor staff fixed issues and engaged visitors in conversation regarding the troubleshooting process. The results of this approach include: – Visitor frustration regarding faults is tempered; – Curiosity is redirected instead of extinguished; – Visitors get a more technical perspective of the exhibit that wouldn’t otherwise be exciting enough to talk about; – Conversation is more dynamic and less constrained; – Dialogue moves in directions not set entirely by the ‘narrator’ i.e. MOD, therefore exchanges are more two-directional; – Visitors inject their own experiences and suggestions, thereby becoming an active player in the experience, equalising the museum-visitor relationship

Patrick Helean, Questacon –
Rubbish Science – Think outside of the bin

During the COVID-19 Canberra lockdown I have been presenting a daily science demonstration on a Facebook page my daughter and I created during the 2019 bushfires, called ‘Science in your suburb’ – Most are classic demonstrations that I like to think I am recycling. The concepts and science hasn’t changed, only the mechanism of demonstration these demonstrations all can be done with things from home and the first demonstration we will do together, I believe is a world premier and you can be a part of it. *I think therefore it …is? – but let me know if I am wrong! Today we all will do a flash experiment, with Rubbish. If you want to play along you will need to gather before the session: – an empty potato chip packet – sticky tape – a card board tube from a paper towel roll or two toilet paper rolls taped together pretty well to make a longer tube – a paper towel or tissue – and a PET bottle cap Don’t worry if you can’t find everything in your house now, it will allow future you to play! For me science communication is all about the message the audience takes away. We manipulate that by setting up the expectations of our target group; today that is you so let me know the good the bad and the ugly!

Wildaliz De Jesús Arocho – Mental Health and Our Changing Climate for policymakers

When we think about climate change,
mental health might not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, we are
all beginning to grow familiar with climate change and its health impacts:
worsening asthma and allergies; heat-related stress; vector-borne diseases;
illness and injury related to storms, fires, floods and drought. The connections
with mental health are central to this discussion. This is where science
communicators across all sectors of our communities can help. Health
professionals need trusted messengers to support the co-design of evidence-based
adaptation actions with frontline communities. For example, ecoAmerica and the
American Psychological Association worked together in the recently updated report
‘Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Inequities, Responses’. Reports
like these are powerful policy tools in emergency preparedness and climate
adaptation action planning. Using this report as a case study, I will identify
opportunities for Australian policymakers to collaborate with health
professionals for climate and health resilience in our communities.s

Indigo Strudwicke, Australian Academy of Science –
Flexible approaches to knowledge brokering between research disciplines and stakeholders

The Academy’s 22 National Committees for Science routinely undertake long-term planning for scientific disciplines in Australia, producing 10-year strategic (decadal) plans that assess the current state of a research community and set priorities to drive the discipline in the coming decade. Community engagement has a central role in long-term discipline planning and implementation, which relies on the liaison, ownership and backing of a whole sector over an extended period of time. Impact from strategic planning work is only achievable when driven by multiple stakeholders across various spheres of influence, including research communities, government departments, and knowledge brokering organisations such as the Academy. Each scientific discipline faces unique challenges and targets for success that are particular to their research field’s needs, and approaches for successful engagement in this space must be flexible and accommodating of the diversity in scientific practice. This presentation will provide brief examples of how the Academy works to facilitate engagement between experts and stakeholder groups in response to varying disciplinary needs. It will draw upon recent work with the research communities in the Information and Communication Sciences, Nutrition Science, and Space and Radio Science, with reference to their recent or upcoming strategic plans.

Hayley Teasdale, Australian Academy of Science –
Science advice for emerging issues

The Academy recently hosted the National RNA Science and Technology roundtable to identify Australia’s RNA science and technology priorities, by gathering some of Australia’s leading researchers. These priorities then needed to be communicated to policy makers, who were looking to establish an RNA manufacturing capability in Australia. The methodology used in establishing and communicating these priorities represents an innovation in science advice for emerging policy issues.

Simon Torok, Sonia Bluhm and Alysha Huxley, Scientell –
The highs (and lows) of science communication consulting

What are the challenges, surprises, and achievements you might expect as a science communication consultant? And how can organisations, such as government agencies and universities, better engage and benefit from communication consultants? Join a panel of Scientell’s communicators as they summarise the highs (and lows) of consulting. We’ll share advice, tips and pitfalls drawing on our experience completing more than 200 projects. Topics to be covered include how consultants work, how to find work and clients, communication project highlights, and how organisations can work better with consultants.

Catherine Wheller, The National Youth Science Forum –
From PhD to Communications Manager: Tips for the Pivot

You’re a science graduate with an in depth knowledge of a specific area. But you’ve decided that you’d rather communicate other people’s science than continue with researching your own. You’ve transformed your CV to emphasise your communication skills – your experience with 3 Minute Thesis, FameLab, and Pint of Science. Your fieldwork blog. Your social media mastery. Now you’ve landed a job as a Communications Manager. You’re working with a research group, communicating the research of a topic that is new to you. The research group doesn’t have much of a budget for comms. You’re new to formal communications and new to the topic area. Where do you start? Join Dr Catherine Wheller to learn how to flourish in your new role. Catherine will explain how to pivot your speciality and start you off on creating your first Communication Strategy using her experience jumping from a PhD in Earth Sciences into starting as the Communications Manager for a Bill & Melinda Gates global health project at the Natural History Museum in London.

Keynote speaker announcement for ASC Online 2021: Leah Barclay

Leah Barclay is an Australian sound artist, designer and researcher who works at the intersection of art, science and technology. Barclay’s research and creative work over the last decade has investigated innovative approaches to recording and disseminating the soundscapes of terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems to inform conservation, scientific research and public engagement. Her work explores ways we can use creativity, new technologies and emerging science to reconnect communities to the environment and inspire climate action.

Leah will be presenting a keynote presentation on Friday of ASC Online 2021:

Interdisciplinary methods to engage communities in conservation

Fresh Science call for nominations

Nominations close next Thursday 29 July 2021.

Fresh Science

Calling all early career researchers.

Got results, a discovery or invention that has not received any publicity?

Nominate for Fresh Science 2021. Find your story, get media trained and promote your science.

Fresh Science is looking for:

  • early-career researchers (from honours students to no more than five years post-PhD).
  • a peer-reviewed discovery that has had little or no media coverage; and
  • some ability to present ideas in everyday English.

Participants receive a day of media training followed by the chance to share their work with peers at the pub. Their work will be profiled online, promoted by social media and, for some, the mainstream media.

In some states, they will also get an introduction to talking to business and government and learn how to pitch.

Now in its 23rd year, Fresh Science has trained over 550 scientists to share their science, and generated hundreds of news stories via TV, print, radio and online. You can read past Fresh Scientists’ stories online at freshscience.org.au

In 2021 Fresh Science will run in QLD, VIC, and NSW.

We are working on the final sponsorships to lock in events for SA and WA. We will also run it in other states and territories where we can secure local support.

In each state where we run an event, we will select the top ten applicants (Vic, Qld, NSW). For successful applicants from other states, you will be invited to participate in a nearby state event if you can cover your travel costs. Events are in October and November­– dates are online.

Nominations close 5pm AEST Thursday 29 July.

Fresh Science is an initiative ofScience inPublic and is supported nationally by Defence Science Technology Group.

Fresh Science VIC is supported by The University of Melbourne, Monash University, La Trobe University and hosted by the Royal Society of Victoria.

Fresh Science NSW is supported by UNSW, Western Sydney University, Macquarie University and hosted by the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Fresh Science QLD is supported by UQ, Griffith University, QUT, University of Southern Queensland and University of the Sunshine Coast. It hosted by UQ and Griffith; and delivered in partnership with Econnect Communication.

We are working on the final sponsorships to lock in events for SA and WA. We have early support from Flinders University, the University of Adelaide, University of Western Australia, Curtin University, the South Australian Museum, and the Western Australian Museum.

Q&A Webinar – Dr Linda McIver

Join us for our next in our Q&A webinar series on Friday 30 July with our guest Dr Linda McIver.

Free for all ASC members – register via zoom here

Dr Linda McIver pioneered authentic Data Science and Computational Science education with real impact for secondary students and founded the Australian Data Science Education Institute in 2018. Author of “Raising Heretics: Teaching kids to change the world”, Linda is an inspiring keynote speaker who has appeared on the ABC’s panel program Q&A, and regularly delivers engaging Professional Development for Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Educators across all disciplines. A passionate educator, researcher and advocate for STEM, equity and inclusion, with a PhD in Computer Science Education and extensive teaching experience, Linda’s mission is to ensure that all Australian students have the opportunity to learn STEM and Data Science skills in the context of projects that empower them to solve problems and make a positive difference to the world.

Member Q&A Webinar: Dr Katie Attwell, social scientist with a focus on attitudes to vaccination

As Australia starts the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccines, join us for the next in our series where we will be hosting Dr Katie Atwell – community, systems and behavioural researcher in the area of vaccination uptake. Wednesday March 17, 2021 07:30 PM AEDST Send through your questions on vaccine hesitancy and public health comms strategy when you register. This session is open, free, to all current ASC members, to check your membership or join visit http://www.asc.asn.au/join/ Book now at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_egwbE2s6T9yLNRtTDRC3IQ

Member webinar: Q&A with Isabelle Kingsley, Research Associate for the Office of the Women in STEM Ambassador

ASC Member Q&A Webinar
Feb 19, 2021 12:30 PM AEDST

Register at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_SdsNaDMtRnalkBvdMRs_Cw

When it comes to women in STEM intiatives – how do we know what works?

While there are hundreds of programs to attract and retain girls and women in STEM, a recent Australian National University study found that only seven of 337 initiatives in Australia provided publicly available evidence of impact or an evaluation of their effectiveness.

This is where our guest Isabelle Kingsley comes in! As a researcher with The Office of the Women in STEM Ambassador, Isabelle is working on projects spanning a range of Women in STEM issues, including the recently published Evaluating STEM Gender Equity Programs guide which provides practical tools for anyone running a gender equity program to evaluate their project and focus on what really works.

This event is free for all current ASC members. To check your membership or join, visit http://www.asc.asn.au/join/


Register via zoom at https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_SdsNaDMtRnalkBvdMRs_Cw


Notice for 2020 Annual General Meeting – new date Thursday 10 December

Official notice of 2020 Australian Science Communicators AGM (online via Zoom)

This is the official notice of the Australian Science Communicators’ Annual General Meeting, to be held online via zoom on THURSDAY 10 DECEMBER 2020 (please note new date)

The 2020 AGM is an opportunity for members to hear about the year’s events at the national level, and also to have their say about what should happen in the year to come. It also includes reports from the President and Treasurer.

When: Thursday 10 December

Perth: 5pm

Brisbane: 7pm

Adelaide/Darwin: 7.30pm

Sydney/Melb/Canberra: 8pm

Where: Online via zoom (please RSVP and you will be emailed a link to join).

RSVP via Form below or via this link

Only financial ASC members are eligible to attend the AGM. Please check you have renewed your membership community.asc.asn.au

Executive Council Positions

Given the turmoil of 2020, the current executive has offered to remain in to provide caretaker/continuity to the organisation over 2020/21.

The current ASC President Lisa Bailey will be remaining in the President’s role.

The current ASC Secretary position shared by Shiloh Gerrity and Michelle Riedlinger will continue.

The current ASC Treasurer Aiden Muirhead will continue.

The current ASC Vice President Lynette Plenderleith will continue.

If you are interested in joining the Executive Council (as Treasurer, Secretary, Vice President x 2), then please contact the National Secretary. If more than one person is interested in a particular position, then an election will take place.

Reps on the National Council

Branches are required to nominate and endorse a National Representative to join the National Council at their Branch AGM. If this has happened, please notified the National Secretary.

Agenda items and notices of motions

Proposed agenda items, notices of motion must be received by 5.30pm (AEDT) Tuesday 1 December 2020 and can be sent to president@asc.asn.au. Note that notices of motion require a proposer and a seconder.


Members unable to attend the AGM in person can provide an online proxy. This will allow members to nominate another current ASC member attending the meeting to hold their proxy, or alternatively the National Secretary. Instructions for nominating proxies will be circulated prior to the AGM along with the final notification of official business. Please note, organisations that have a membership may nominate only one (1) representative to vote.

The following items are current as of 3 November 2020:

Building new worlds for exploration: designing online exhibits during COVID-19

Written by Dr Debbie Devis

I never thought I would be chatting about psychology and loneliness whilst running from a zombie, but COVID-19 has surprised me in unexpected ways. When the pandemic hit, we all had to adjust. For us at MOD. at UniSA, that meant we had to close galleries and set up an online exhibition called LIFE INTERRUPTED. It was important to maintain live, interactive escapes from the isolation of staying at home and so two of my pet projects were born. These projects were MOD.Craft, a public, moderated Minecraft server, and MUSEUM.shift, a tabletop role playing game (RPG) written by myself and another moderator, Josh Vanner. Both of these interactive exhibits were designed to subtly introduce science concepts to young adults, whilst also providing a safe online space to continue interaction with  MOD. and others.


MOD.craft was broken into two exhibits; BIOPHILIA focused on whether nature needs to be real to gain the benefits of being outside, and in LIFE AFTER we explored whether we would choose to work together or alone after a major disaster. The greatest lesson I learned during this was the importance of community. We built up a group of regular visitors who invited friends and who were looking for company, but this led to most of the science discussions we ended up having. The regularity of moderators doing silly things like taming llamas and fiercely protecting villagers broke down some of the scary walls of “silly questions”, so our conversations became predominantly community lead as people started to ask us questions unrelated to our exhibit themes. The topics covered ranged from “What is unfalsifiability?” to “ How could we reverse gravity?”.

Image of an island created in Minecraft

An Island Retreat – by MODzilla for MODcraft BIOPHILIA

It is difficult to say whether this ease of comfort was driven by Minecraft or the fantastic facilitation from moderators, but minecraft provided such an easy medium to build those relationships. We built houses based on our own artistic styles and backgrounds, so visitors were able to identify which people were experts in which fields and direct targeted questions they had burning in their minds. This exploded when we set up a Discord server to allow people to talk to us in game when they weren’t playing, because people regularly came to chat, even if they couldn’t play. Overall, this made me realise the importance and power of online communities for breaking down barriers between demographics. Demonstrating  that we are all just humans with all our own skills and fallibilities is what made our visitors respond so well to us and the idea of chatting science.

Visitors wrote books in Minecraft about their experience in LIFE AFTER

Visitors wrote books in Minecraft about their experience in LIFE AFTER

MUSEUM.shift was a completely different experience, and was a game designed for people to take home and play with friends. This is a roleplaying game where players pretend to be a museum worker in a fantasy museum. A single player is the “game master” and tells an open ended, choose your own adventure story that players participate in. For example, the game master might say “As you are straigenting the tapestry, you hear a bleating as a sheep pushes its way out! What would you like to do?”. Each game was completely different depending on the decisions players made and ranged anywhere from strict logical progressions to complete absurdity. These were small games of 2-5 players, so it didn’t not have the same community strength as MOD.craft, but it did allow a lot more moderator lead science.

MUSEUM.shift games don’t require any specific knowledge background, but Josh (our resident RPG expert) and I would prepare as much as we could to put accurate history, science and art principles into each game. If a player asked to search the reference library for details on wormholes, this provided us an opportunity to give them accurate information. On another occasion a player wanted to melt a slime monster, so we were able to make up a machine based on thermal resonance.  The hardest part of this for us was how unpredictable each game is, but the opportunity to add a bit of science into the game became evident as soon as we started playtesting the game.

Museum Shift Map

Map of the fantasy museum in MUSEUM.shift. Players use this to fuel their imagination.

Both exhibits challenged my idea of how I communicate science. I often feel like I am not doing enough unless the science is explicit in what I am saying, but the breadth of science discussions we had in both exhibits made me reevaluate that notion and see the benefit of “unexpected science content”. I still got killed by a lot of skeletons, but at least it means somebody asked me about why plants don’t need bones.