Careers and Networking Night – ACT Branch

If you are wanting to get into a science communication career then the
ACT branch Careers and Networking Night at ANU is for you.

And people in the field looking for fresh new talent can meet all the

When: Thursday April 23, 5:15 pm-6:30 pm
Where: Green Couch Room, Australian National Centre for the Public
Awareness of Science (CPAS), Physics Link building 38A, ANU
Cost: Free.

Register here

The night will begin with a series of short talks highlighting different
pathways and careers in science communication. Hear about current and
exciting new undergraduate and postgraduate courses offered by CPAS which can kickstart your sci comm career.

Guest speakers include:

Lara Davis – How a chemistry graduate ends up a geoscience
communicator, via a Dip Ed.

Amanda Cox – Digital comms professional, science marketing at ANU, from a biochemistry background via the not-for profit and government worlds.

Phil Dooley – PhD in physics turns IT trainer, high school workshopper
then science writer at ANU.

Katie Howe – Comms professional, no science background, hey how did
she get in here?!

Anna-Lisa Hayes
– Environmental scientist turns science communicator
in the government sector.

Following the talks there will be an opportunity to network over FREE food
and drinks.

Please register here:

Thursday April 23, 5:15 pm-6:30 pm

Where: Green Couch Room, Australian National Centre for the Public
Awareness of Science (CPAS), Physics Link building 38A, ANU

Cost: Free.

Inspiring Australia update: Millions of science fans can’t be wrong

Hit Australian science news service ScienceAlert approaches six million fans.

ScienceAlert headerIt started in 2005 as a humble website, but the Canberra-based ScienceAlert is now a social media superstar, having reached more than 5.6 million fans on Facebook.

Every day, ScienceAlert posts news stories, feature articles, videos, images and comment to spread the work of Australian universities and research agencies. Its fans then share the stories further, increasing the reach to 10-15 million people worldwide.

“We also have 250,000 Australian fans and they in turn are helping us to reach 1-2 million Australians,” said ScienceAlert managing director Chris Casella. “This is great news for Australian science – at a time when reportage of science in the traditional media is flagging.”

ScienceAlert continues to partner with YouTube science celebrities to branch out into the real world, with shows like IFLS Live! in Sydney. This is all part of its mission to not only promote Australian science, but to give people the knowledge needed to tackle global issues.

“But science alone is not enough,” said ScienceAlert founder Julian Cribb. “The knowledge it generates needs to be shared at lightspeed among seven billion human beings, so they can make use of it. That is what motivates us.”

This knowledge can be found at

Inspiring Australia

Inspiring Australia update: Country kids communicating with art and science

Digital photography and solar prints of leaves and other found objects are just some of the ways community participation is being encouraged through storytelling technology.

Creative photography at the Wings Drop-in Centre in Wilcannia

Creative photography at the Wings Drop-in Centre in Wilcannia

Young people are telling stories about themselves and their environment at science and art workshops in the New South Wales towns of Wilcannia and Wagga Wagga.

They’re part of the dLab National Program, started by dLux Media Arts as a way to help regional youth contribute to their communities and shape their own future.

Using everything from digital photography to solar prints of leaves and other found objects, Wilcannia students captured elements of their hometown, learning along the way about local botany but also the chemistry of photography and the physics of light.

“We had a real ‘wow’ moment when we turned the whole room into a camera obscura and projected what we could see outside onto the walls and roof inside the room,” said workshop facilitator Yenny Huber.

Students’ stories and photographs went into a mobile app, an interactive map of Wilcannia with tours of places of personal importance to them.

In Wagga Wagga, the students’ work was projected onto the walls of the Civic Centre, alongside local music and interviews in an exhibition at the Ashmont Artspace.

“As much as the students enjoy learning about the science, the real power in this program is how they use technology to express themselves by creating art and audio-visual content,” Yenny said.

The dLab National Program continues in 2014, with a special guest appearance by Indonesian artist Andreas Siagian, who will run workshops on computer technology and electronics and will teach people how to make a DIY digital microscope from a webcam.

Find out more at

Inspiring Australia

Inspiring Australia update: Fossil tourism in the Flinders

How training ten locals is set to unearth tourism potential and take science to thousands.

Science communicators in training

Science communicators in training

The ‘Hidden National Treasure’ project is turning Flinders locals into science communicators and working with them to develop Ediacara fossil tourism ‘experiences’.

Fossils from the Ediacaran Period have lain hidden like buried treasure for 550 million years under the ancient sea floors of outback Flinders Ranges.

This project has trained ten locals in palaeontology and communication, allowing science engagement to infiltrate into local tourism activities.

Project manager Damia Ettakadoumi of Straight Up Science says the project capitalises on the passion and enthusiasm the people who live in the region have for the fossils. It also takes advantage of the fact that many already offer guided tours of their properties, nearby gorges and geological formations.

“Embedding science stories in other experiences is another way of getting science out into the community,” says Damia. “The locals were looking for this opportunity. They have both the passion and the means to pass it on. By teaching these few, we can potentially reach thousands of tourists.”

The beauty of the project is its ability to reach ‘beyond the converted’. Breath-taking scenery, wildlife, bushwalking tracks and the landscape paintings of Hans Heysen attract a wide range of visitors to the region – people who might not otherwise engage with science.

“The people living up there running cattle stations and tour operations are not geologists, botanists or palaeontologists, but they’re very hungry for information about these topics and Indigenous knowledge because they love it! They want to talk about it!”

Ten locals have received Certificate III training and an intensive course in Ediacara palaeontology and geology. They can now confidently explain the Ediacara story to tourists.

Dickinsonia - an iconic fossil of the Ediacaran biota

Dickinsonia – an iconic fossil of the Ediacaran biota

Damia and her colleagues are now working with the Flinders locals on the next stage of the project: developing tourism experiences and resources, such as formalised fossil tour routes, brochures and tourism apps. They will also develop an Ediacara brand to help promote Flinders fossil finding adventures internationally.

The Flinders Ranges is one of 16 regions chosen for the Australia’s National Landscapes program, a tourism development and conservation partnership managed by Tourism Australia and Parks Australia. Other regions include the Australian Alps, the Great Barrier Reef and Ningaloo-Shark Bay.

The Hidden National Treasure project injects science education into this tourism development, with outcomes that will be great for both public education and the local economy.

Inspiring Australia

Inspiring Australia update: Travelling WA with Kerry Mazzotti

WA’s Inspiring Australia officer shares what inspires her, advice for science communicators and why she sent a scientist travelling the State in a white campervan with 18 replica skulls.

Kerry Mazzotti

Inspirer of Western Australians, Kerry Mazzotti

A love of meeting people from different backgrounds and a bug for travel are surely essential requirements for Kerry Mazzotti’s challenge of coordinating science engagement across the biggest state in Australia.

Kerry is one of eight state and territory Inspiring Australia Officers who support science communication and engagement projects, help them gain publicity and enable local collaboration.

What is your background?

I did my undergraduate degree in Environmental Science. I realised pretty quickly that I was more interested in talking about research than conducting it so went on to be a Science Circus Scholar in the Questacon Science Circus. After completing a Graduate Diploma in Science Communication as part of that course, I stayed on with the Questacon Outreach team for another couple of years presenting their careers program to high school students right across the country, from Nhulunbuy to Nannup and Rockhampton to Renmark.

With a full blown case of the travel bug, I set off for North America and landed a position in the Community Engagement team at Science World in Vancouver, once again travelling to regional areas across the province to enthuse people about science, this time with the Scientists in Schools program.

With a few detours and pit-stops along the way, I am now based at Scitech in Perth, still focussed on community science engagement including National Science Week and the Inspiring Australia Initiative.

What was your first job?

Check-out chick at Franklins.

What inspires you?

I am continually inspired by nature, and the scientists that study it. Nature was the reason I got into science in the first place, and I believe this is the gateway for many people. Science is about asking how the world works, and before you start asking the bigger questions, you start by asking questions inspired by nature like ‘Why does it smell nice after it rains?’ ‘Why are the sky and ocean blue?’ ‘Why do all of these animals only come out at night?’ And suddenly, before you know, you are a science enthusiast.

What Inspiring Australia initiatives are happening in your area?

In WA, Inspiring Australia supports Regional Community Science Engagement Groups in 6 regional hubs across the state, including Broome, Geraldton, Bunbury, Albany, Esperance and Kalgoorlie, with key individuals and organisations being supported in Karratha.

In this way, a year round calendar of science engagement events, relevant to local communities, is being developed. Examples include the Esperance Science Engagement Group recently running an event based on the science of brewing beer in a local cafe, and a presentation by an archaeologist at Karratha Public Library. These events are put on by the community and for the community, making them popular and relevant. For more examples of past events see

Is there a success story or two that stand out?

Inspiring Australia in WA supported facial anthropologist Dr Susan Hayes to travel the state and share her passion for forensics and anthropology.

Dr Hayes loaded up 18 replica skulls into her white campervan and headed north. While on the road she gave free public talks in libraries, community centres, schools and caravan parks, based on both the forensic and anthropological sides of her work.

She also ran drawing and clay modelling workshops inviting participants into the world of facial approximation.

As well as encouraging our regional science engagement groups to run their own events on the ground, it’s great to be able to link them up with travelling experts such as Dr Susan Hayes. It provides the groups with an extra resource, and also provides the expert with networks in the regional centres. We have also done a similar thing with innovation guru, Dr Ed Sobey, and Whale Shark conservation and education group ECOCEAN.

This one really stands out because Dr Hayes is an inspirational scientist and researcher but also passionate about sharing her science with others. Luckily for us, she is also a keen traveller!

What are the science strengths of your state or territory?

WA is strong across many fields. One example includes astronomy, with our involvement in the Square Kilometre Array, a mega science project aiming to build the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope.

Tell us about your favourite science-related TV show or movie

Does Breaking Bad count?

What are you currently reading?

I just finished a novel called Feed, by M.T. Anderson describing a future where we all have implants to connect us to a Facebook like program that connects us, through status updates and advertising, to the world around us. I love science fiction when it looks at the social implications of advances in technology.

What is the best thing about your job?

The best thing about my job is getting to interact with people from a broad cross section of the community with one thing in common, an interest in science. Whether it be a keen librarian interested in astronomy, an enthusiastic school teacher fascinated by physics or an eager community volunteer who is a budding botanist, my favourite thing is to help them share their passion with others. Curiosity is contagious!

If you could give science communicators one piece of advice, what would it be?

Talk to the people around you. While science communication is a relatively new field, there are still so many resources and so much experience out there for you to tap into. That way you can expend your energy on new and creative ways to engage people in science, rather than re-inventing the wheel.

Read more Questions and Answers with Kerry at the Inspiring Australia website.

Inspiring Australia

Inspiring Australia Update: Crowdsourcing Citizens For International Astronomy

Gemma and her home-made comet starred in Astrofest tweets from former WA Chief Scientist Professor Lyn Beazley (@ChiefSci_WA)

Gemma and her home-made comet starred in Astrofest tweets from former WA Chief Scientist Professor Lyn Beazley (@ChiefSci_WA)

There’s a lot of space and a lot of things in space out there – which means some potentially interesting finds by keen viewers of the stars. Why not bring them together?

Want some help scanning the skies over outback Australia for shooting stars? Crowdsource it! And while you’re at it, educate the crowd. That’s the bright idea behind Curtin University’s Fireballs in the Sky project.

This project will include ordinary people in the research process, improving their scientific literacy and especially their understanding of planetary research.

The long-term aim of the project is to bring citizen scientists, particularly in remote locations in Western and South Australia, into the Desert Fireball Network – an international scientific collaboration that uses a network of cameras in outback Australia to photograph the fall of meteorites, greatly increasing the chances of finding and recovering them for further investigation.

Gemma Mullaney, Geoscience Outreach Officer at Curtin University tells more about the accessibility and the research over on the Inspiring Australia website.

Visit the Fireballs in the Sky website to download the app – and find more updates at the Inspiring Australia website.

Inspiring Australia

Inspiring Australia Update: Tasmania’s Sarah Bayne On Selling Science In Our Smallest State

Distant land with whole-hearted engagement – meet Tasmania’s Inspiring Australia officer, Sarah Bayne.

There's a lot of science in Tasmania, and Sarah Bayne tries to cover it all.

There’s a lot of science in Tasmania, and Sarah Bayne tries to cover it all

People come to science engagement with a range of backgrounds, but there can’t be many who’ve worked cleaning convict bricks like Sarah Bayne has.

But there’s far more to Tasmania than convict clichés, and Sarah now communicates all the many science and science-related activities going on in the island state.

Sarah is one of eight state and territory Inspiring Australia Officers who support science communication and engagement projects, help them gain publicity and enable local collaboration.

What inspires you?

At work I really get inspired by people – the passion and dedication I see in the scientists and science communicators I work with and also the ‘light bulb’ moments and fascination I see when a child (or even an adult) fully engages with something new. Out of work I mostly get inspired by nature and the environment, and also my friends. Oh, and good food. And my dog.

What Inspiring Australia initiatives are happening in your area?

There are a whole range of IA initiatives happening in Tasmania including the website, a local grants scheme, newsletters and social media, all types of events, scholarships and lots of brainstorming about how else we can engage the public in science.

Read more Questions and Answers with Sarah at the Inspiring Australia website.

Inspiring Australia

The ASC and Inspiring Australia: working with the national strategy for engagement with the sciences

The Australian Science Communicators continues to be an active partner in the Inspiring Australia strategy. We are a member of the Science Sector Group, which provides national leadership and coherent action among non-government science sector organisations. This group aims to enable collaboration, information sharing and, where appropriate, coordinated approaches to issues around science. An important objective is to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, quantity and quality of Australian public science engagement.

Australia aspires to be an inventive society with a technologically skilled workforce, a scientifically literate community and scientifically well informed decision makers. The Inspiring Australia strategy aims to build a strong, open relationship between science and society, underpinned by effective communication of science and its uses.

The ASC shares many of the underlying aims of Inspiring Australia. We view that our involvement in several of Inspiring Australia’s activities will add value to the efforts of both groups.

Inspiring Australia

Event review: BIG science communication summit

Thanks to Victoria Leitch, for writing this event review.

The BIG science communication summit promised to be a BIG event… and it was.

We fell in love with the critically endangered Baw Baw frog, went wild with some (suitable for work) selfies, visualised rips with purple dye at Bondi and saw Derek Muller (creator of Veritasium) berate himself on film for his own alleged pretentious douchebag-ness. We were disappointed that Craig Reucassel didn’t chair his session in Nicole Kidman-esque shorts, but you can’t win them all.

Along with the fun, however, there was a serious side to the BIG science communication summit. While our speakers used some incredible case studies to show us that we are having some real successes with science communication in Australia, our group discussions and workshops told us that we are not quite there – yet.

The collaborative format of the workshop sessions gave everyone the opportunity to raise their concerns and voice their ideas on where we should be heading in the future. Although the delegates were separated into 5 streams of discussion, the results showed that on many of the issues relating to the impediments to science communication in Australia, we are thinking the same thing. Just a few of the recurring impediments that were highlighted by the workshops were:

  • A need for defined leadership, aims and goals in science communication
  • A lack of ways to evaluate and measure projects
  • A fear or mistrust of communication, communicators and the technology involved

Like any good workshop session we raised a lot of questions, but taking it one step further than many workshops – we came up with answers. Ideas to combat the impediments above and others can be seen at the solutions page of the summit.

After two full days of science communication brainstorming, the summit culminated in a promise. A promise to do more, and in a group therapy style moment, we all made a commitment to doing our part in improving the engagement of science in Australia.

If you did miss the summit, I recommend you look at the blogs which were lovingly prepared by the amazing team of bloggers.

Thank you to the BIG science communication summit team, looking forward to the next one!

Event review: Science Engagement in Tasmania event in Hobart

Thanks to Sarah Bayne, Inspiring Australia Project Officer Tasmania for writing this event review. Apologies from Ed. it didn’t make the May Scope issue. 

On April 17 and 18 the University of Tasmania hosted the Science Engagement in Tasmania event in Hobart. This event attracted more than 50 people to the seminar session on the first day and more than 30 participants to each of two skills development workshops on the second day.

Inspiring Australia Program manager, Simon France, started off the session with an overview of activity going on at the national level, highlighting the leadership role that Inspiring Australia are playing by promoting a unified science engagement strategy. Local Inspiring Australia Officer, Sarah Bayne, followed with a presentation outlining how the Inspiring Australia initiative is being rolled out on the ground in Tasmania.

The audience also heard from Dr Diana Nahodil from the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and the Arts who spoke about the state government’s Science Engagement Program, from Jeannie Marie Le Roi, Tasmania’s  National Science Week Coordinating Committee Chair for the previous ten years, who spoke of the past successes and future opportunities that National Science Week affords science communicators, and from UWA’s Associate Professor Nancy Longnecker, who commented on both the potential for a local ASC branch as well as Inspiring Australia’s  National Evaluation project.

As well as providing a fantastic opportunity for sharing information amongst Tasmania’s considerable network of science communicators, the seminar gave participants a rare opportunity to network and exchange ideas. Every major research organisation in Tasmania was represented at this event along with many others working in smaller organisations, in industry and in education, so this was a unique opportunity for making contacts and sharing experiences.

On the second day Associate Professor Nancy Longnecker held two workshop sessions where participants were able to gain from her valuable experience and knowledge. The first session, “Effective Science Communication: how do you know if you’ve had any impact?” explored how science communicators can effectively set objectives and develop strategies for evaluating impact. The second session explored techniques for making media-friendly stories. Participants worked in groups on their current communication efforts to achieve practical outcomes from the session, so hopefully we’ll be seeing some extra great science stories hitting the local media soon!

As a result of the networking that happened at the Science Engagement in Tasmania event, we  now have our very own Facebook group called ‘Tasmanian Science Communicators’ to help the community stay in touch and there is talk of setting up a much needed  local branch of ASC- so watch this space……