Teachers: Science Communicators with a guaranteed audience!

Jaclyn Drake meeting some scaly critters

Jaclyn Drake meeting some scaly critters

I am very appreciative of the Australian Science Communicators for considering me for the Professional Development Grant 2015. The scholarship allowed me to attend the 64th conference of the Australian Science Teachers Association (CONASTA 64), ‘Science: a Kaleidoscope of Wonder and Opportunity.’ As a country high school science teacher I consider myself on the ‘front line’ of science communication. Attempting to engage children, their families and my community in science and searching out real science connections to use in the classroom.

The Science Teachers Association of WA (STAWA) partnered with ASTA and Mercedes College along with major sponsor Curtin University to bring the conference to science teachers in Perth during July this year. STAWA Committee members worked very hard to coordinate a successful conference which showcased the myriad of opportunities for teachers to partner with research and science engagement organisations to enrich the science their students experience in the classroom.

The conference began with an inspiring keynote from Professor Fiona Wood, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon specialising in the field of burn care, trauma and scar reconstruction. Professor Wood relayed to us the best pieces of advice she has received to date from people in her life. She started with her Physics teacher who said to her in high school, “People will think you’re a bit of a twit Fiona, you can do physics but you can’t spell,” highlighting for us the need to be able to communicate science in a clear and engaging way. She spoke of the need to collaborate across disciplines and professions to share expertise and extend our own learning, the need to connect and articulate original ideas, to get together and explore ideas to use our energy and science to make a difference in other peoples’ lives. Professor Wood has heard her own advice repeated back to her by her children; “Opportunities that make you nervous, they’re the ones you go for.” Professor Wood challenged us as science communicators, asking “what is it that you can share that can make a difference?” She not only inspired us to move forward with our engagement of young people with science but reminded us of basic burns first aid to improve healing by 80% (remove clothing and cool the area by running under cold water) so we can spread the word and improve the health of Australians ourselves.

The second keynote presentation by Professor Peter Klinken, Chief Scientist of WA, shared his own insights and those from Professor Ian Chubb, Chief Scientist of Australia, on the future of STEM in Australia. Professor Klinken referred to the Chief Scientists Report 2014, ‘STEM: Australia’s Future’ (1) and Professor Chubb’s ‘Vision for a Science Nation’ (2) paper available this year to highlight the importance of STEM communication. He shared with us that 75% of fastest growing occupations require STEM and asked us, “How do we attract and retain bright people?” Professor Klinken shared his answer with us; we need to support risk taking, entrepreneurship and mentoring and to engage the community in Science. STEM underpins a capable and adaptable economy so scientists need to be able to explain what they it is that they do to the community, through policy makers and the media.

A motivating series of keynote speakers followed over the four mornings of CONASTA. Professor Claus Bolte, Head of Chemistry Education at Freie Universitaet in Berlin, shared his findings on Scientific Literacy while Doctor Kate Trinajstic spoke about her research using advanced technology to learn about ancient lifeforms. Doctor Trinajstic was one of eight female keynote speakers from a total of nineteen keynote presentations with three speakers travelling from overseas to share their research with us. The final speaker, Professor David Lee from Singapore, shared with us the secret to cooking the perfect steak explaining scientifically why a steak is much better if cooked from frozen over low heat and a longer period of time. (Try it! I’ll never attempt to defrost a steak before cooking it again!)

I found a workshop on creating a science mentoring program for primary school teachers led by Kate Fischer and Colin Noy from Brisbane Boys’ College to be very helpful. In my volunteer role as coordinator of the Kalgoorlie Science Teachers Network I am regularly assisting teachers to improve their science knowledge and teaching pedagogy to best engage children with science. Applying a similar mentoring structure in a regional area of Western Australia should greatly improve our ability to attract and retain excellent science communicators to teach in our schools.

Bruce Paton from Earthwatch led a motivating workshop about implementing citizen science in schools and inspiring students by making them scientists. He was assisted by teacher Mady Colquhoun who shared her experience with TeachLive Bush Blitz (3), an amazing initiative taking science teachers out into the field with scientists and engaging their class back home via skype. This has certainly sent me on the hunt for research scientists and citizen science projects I can engage teachers and students in my region with. Doctor Tania Meyer from RiAus shared the creative science communication resources they are producing to engage the community and students with up to date science research (4).

One of the many highlights of CONASTA for me was the excursion to Scitech (5), Western Australia’s answer to Questacon. The behind the scenes tour delivered excitement at every turn. From hearing about the science communication methods of the Aboriginal Outreach Program to witnessing the amazing prototypes produced by the gadgets and electronics team and how we could use them to engage children in science and technology. We met with the Design Manager in the Design Workshop, learning about the robustness required of hands on science exhibits and seeing the scientific method in action in their design and production. This excursion reignited my passion for Community Science Engagement. As a science teacher, my profession is science communication, my true audience is not just limited to my classroom but is the entire community I live in.
CONASTA provided the opportunity to network with other science teachers, research scientists and science communication professionals from across Australia and the world.

My experience of this conference, thanks to the generosity of Australian Science Communicators, was just a very small slice of what was on offer. With so many concurrent workshops and presentations every one of the hundreds of attendees had a unique experience that reinvigorated their approach to engaging their students in science. Keep an eye out for the Science Teachers Association of Queensland (STAQ) who have already started organising the CONASTA 65 ‘Superheros of Science: Unmask your Potential’ (6) for Brisbane in 2016. If you are a science communicator – you need to be involved!

(1.) http://www.chiefscientist.gov.au/2014/09/professor-chubb-releases-science-technology-engineering-and-mathematics-australias-future/

(2.) http://www.science.gov.au/scienceGov/news/Documents/VisionForAScienceNationRespondingToSTEMAustraliasFuture.pdf

(3.) http://www.bushblitz.org.au/teachlive.php

(4.) http://riaus.org.au/

(5.) http://www.scitech.org.au/

(6.) http://asta.edu.au/conasta

Communicating science with mobile applications

The advanced connectivity and computing power of Smartphones opens up new possibilities for science communication, and an increasing number of institutions are experimenting with this great potential. That’s the topic of the thesis I published as part of my Masters of Science Communication, in which I look at the potential benefits and limitations of science-related mobile applications. This excerpt summarises the main ideas, and I hope it can be beneficial to some out there.

Use of a mobile app at the Natural History Museum, London. Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Use of a mobile app at the Natural History Museum, London. Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Great potential yet to be explored

For science communication professionals who are continuously exploring new strategies for communicating with current and potential audiences, mobile applications open up the possibility for reaching new audiences through a personal device they have chosen and are familiar with. In the case of science museums and science centres, mobile apps also enable the institutions to reach those audiences not only during the museum visit, but before and after also.

“This ability to reach users in conditions and in an environment of their choice opens up new possibilities for the communication of cultural content for life-long learning and edutainment, in addition to the potential for cultural marketing. Additionally, the fact that these users are connected in a wide network offers possibilities not only for one-to-one communication between the cultural organization and the user, but also for social networking and creating communities of users interested in cultural content, incorporating Web 2.0 capabilities.”

(Economou and Meintani, 2011)

Furthermore, in the past few decades we have been observing a paradigm shift in museum learning which is based on an explorative hands-on approach and focuses on the users’ needs rather than the curators’ key message. While traditional museums put visitors into a passive and ‘guest’ position, this new paradigm is about participation and interactivity and puts the users into an active role (Kahr-Højland in Katz, LaBar and Lynch, 2011).

Use of QR codes in Museum. Image in Public Domain

Use of QR codes in Museum. Image in Public Domain

With their advanced computing abilities and connectivity, smartphones are regarded as the key vehicle for customizing and enhancing visitor experience and seem to fit perfectly into this new learning paradigm. However, in reality, museum mobile applications are not as numerous as we may think, and the few that exist do not seem to significantly enhance the museum visit experience (Valtysson, and Ling in Holdgaard Katz, LaBar and Lynch, 2011). The majority of museums apps developed so far have the form of enriched audio-guided tours (with images, video, and sometimes additional texts), and few of them actually support social interaction and participation.

Facilitate accessibility, encourage dialogue

But edutainment mobile applications are not limited to museums, and science-related apps actually abound. A quick search on iTunes with the keyword “science” gives more than 2,000 results. In my thesis I look at a sample of mobile applications created by science museums, science centres, and research institutes, and analyse the means they used to convey science-related content.

A mobile app for plant care.

A mobile app for plant care. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.

It appears that a good way to embrace this new learning paradigm, and retract from the passive one-way information delivery from institution to user, is to enable the user to contribute to the content (e.g. upload photos), ask questions, provide feedback, and share on social networks. Smartphones are connected devices, so let’s use that feature!

To convey science-related content to a large and diverse audience through a mobile app, there are a few things to keep in mind, such as: don’t forget to offer different levels of reading (e.g. with “in-depth” or “further info” options available), make the content available on different platforms (e.g. develop the app on different OS, upload content on website as well), use a level of language adapted to the audience (avoid jargon and keep technical language to a minimum, in a manner that it is not misleading, but that your audience can understand quickly and easily), increase usability (e.g. provide captions for videos, title the back arrows with the previous page’s name, have an option to change contrast and text size), and it’s a smartphone app so use the smartphones features (e.g. camera, microphone, GPS, connectivity, gyroscope…).

A mobile app is the device, not the message

Smartphones do offer a broad range of possibilities to science communicators and can be fantastic devices to communicate science to different audiences, and some apps are truly brilliant. However a mobile app may not be the most adapted tool for everyone’s communication.

The Curiosity Show hits the internet

Thank you to Curiosity Show host Prof. Rob Morrison for taking the time to answer our questions about the launch of the show online.

Many Australian’s hold fond memories of mornings on the couch, watching The Curiosity Show… and after a 23 year hiatus, they have returned to thrill a new generation of eager Australians!

The Curiosity Show has hit the web, with all the classic segments – including favourites like Make-and-Do, Nature and Puzzles – now available on youtube. You can also connect with the show on their website, facebook and twitter.

Prof. Rob Morrison, Curiosity show host, said that originally the show was designed to deal with science and technology, without overtly teaching it. He says, “we did this by using things like natural history segments, lots of making and doing, and things like art and music segments.

“Making and Doing meant things like mousetrap racing cars, battery-powered hovercraft, pill-bottle torches, and mousetrap paddlewheelers, where children had to deal with power sources, gearing, and power-weight ratios without their ever being called that.  We also showed the objects that we made working so they knew what to expect if they got their versions right.

“We used things like art and music for similar reasons. For example,  making your own PVC panpipes or PVC recorder involved science and technology in working out the length of pipe to get the right pitch, and exploring the proportions of paintings, seashells, and flower centres brought in golden proportions and Fibonacci numbers without overtly teaching those as maths.

“We did lots of tricks and puzzles, too. You can deal with a great deal of maths when you dress it up as magic, and children who would run a mile from a maths segment are quite happy to learn how to do a trick that might baffle a parent or two.”

Prof Morrison, and fellow Curiosity Show host Deane Hutton, have enlisted the help of digital media agency Enabled Solutions to aid in the process of uploading the segments to the internet. By doing this, the show can benefit from not only their expertise in cross-platform digital media, but also their links to a number of educational services.

The wide variety of segments and projects available mean that there are a number of opportunities for teachers from all different areas to expose their children to hands-on learning experiences – while giving children an appreciation of the role of science in all aspects of the world around them.

“There are lots of art, language, maths segments which touch on science and technology (e.g. origin of “knots” and “log” which come from sailing ships; origin of sayings like “red herring” and riddles like “which came first, chicken or egg?” These all have science in their explanations.

“We were aiming at upper primary levels, where crossover in the curriculum is very much to be encouraged so that the artificial divisions imposed by curriculum areas are not introduced too soon for children to see how science connects to everything.

“Some art segments use maths (Golden mean) while others, such as simple lithography, work because of the ability of water to repel oil, and that allows limestone printing. This joint mix of science within other areas is important.  Other segments, such as those in the “Make and Do” playlist, offer things to build or do that are more overtly science or technology, but good fun to play with as well.

“We also had a series, and there are some of these segments in there, called “CURIO” in which we show some ancient or obscure bit of technology, ask kids to guess what it is and then explain it. It is a window into technology of the past (old mining devices, ship’s candle-holder, miner’s spider etc).

“We strongly believed, and still do, that children obtain a huge amount of incidental learning by making and doing things. It is worrying to see so much of childhood now involves not hands and fingers making things that work, but two thumbs to control a virtual, X-Box world.”

Profile – Anna-Maria Arabia, Questacon

Interview with Anna-Maria Arabia, General Manager, Strategy and Partnerships, Questacon
Words: Sally Miles

Anna-Maria Arabia has recently taken on the role of General Manager, Strategy and Partnerships, at Questacon. She has hit the ground running and is using her passion for science education to build on Questacon’s world class science engagement activities.

While Questacon’s science centre is aimed mainly at primary and early secondary students, the approach to make science fun and interesting appeals to all ages. In fact, staff pay close attention to ensuring each exhibit can be enjoyed by all. The exhibits are produced and delivered by a team of very talented, creative people who are responsive to feedback from everyone who interacts with the exhibits.

But Questacon is a lot more than one great science centre.  From national initiatives as part of the Inspiring Australia strategy, to on-tour programs and exhibitions, the organisation does its fair share of community outreach.

This even extends to international partnerships with science centres around the world. Questacon engages with many countries by sharing ideas, developing skills and overall capacity building. This includes training their staff in science communication and even bringing exhibits across the seas.

Domestically, Questacon maintains relationships with both the public and private sectors.  Anna-Maria emphasises the benefits of strategies such as those of Inspiring Australia.

Inspiring Australia is a bridge to many initiatives. It is a classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts”. Inspiring Australia offers many things, including national leadership, partnership opportunities across the country, and a great array of activities to get involved in.

Anna-Maria recognises science centres as an important part of our overall science education. Informal out-of-school science learning at Questacon complements formal education that happens in the classroom.

“Science Centres play a critical role in engaging children in science education.” Anna-Maria says. Questacon, one of Canberra’s most popular tourist attractions, uses hands-on interactive exhibits and a philosophy of ‘science by doing’ to motivate and inspire many thousands of students every year.

Questacon is a great vehicle to switch people on to science. It will continue to play an important role in the future of science education, and Anna-Maria looks forward to contributing towards a future of greater science engagement and inspiration.

Thank you, Anna-Maria, for taking the time out of an already hectic schedule to talk about science communication. We look forward to hearing more about the fantastic initiatives at Questacon. 

Graham Durant, a Member of the Order of Australia

I just read that Professor Graham Durant, Director of Questacon in Australia, has been awarded an AM (Member of the Order of Australia) in the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours List. His award is in recognition of his services to science education as the Director of Questacon: The National Science and Technology Centre, to the museums sector, and through scientific advisory roles.

Many in the ASC know Graham through his work in preparing the Inspiring Australia Report and his many other connections with science communication. Graham was a featured speaker at this year’s ASC conference where he gave us an overview of the first year of Inspiring Australia activities.

Graham has extensive experience in communicating science through the science centre-museum sector and other networks. Before taking on his position at Questacon in 2003, Graham was a Senior Curator and Deputy Director of the Hunterian Museum in Scotland and was closely involved in the opening of the Glasgow Science Centre in 2001. Graham has been an advocate for, and active contributor to the Asia Pacific Network of Science & Technology Centres (ASPAC) network, including a term on the Executive Council. He was a board member of the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) from 2005 to 2011 and a member of ASTC’s International Committee, ensuring that the Asia Pacific region was well represented in this global network. I congratulate Graham on his well deserved honour.

Jesse Shore
National president

The pseudoscientific merry-go-round takes another turn

Dr Rob Morrison writes:

The endless debates about climate change in the media could lead you to think that it is the only important issue on which science is trying to make some headway with a skeptical (if not antagonistic) public.

Not so. Try health or, more specifically, the various health “treatments” that are offered to a public that seems, at best, confused about what treatments work, which don’t work, what has scientific validity and what can legitimately claim to be evidence-based.

This all promises to offer a new, rich field for controversy, as the federal budget, cutting left and right, has at last decided to make some cuts that are long overdue; requiring the Chief Medical Officer to determine what “natural” health treatments are evidence-based. There is a year in which to conduct this review, after which the Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek, says that “The Private Health Insurance Rebate will be paid for insurance products that cover natural therapy services only where the Chief Medical Officer finds there is clear evidence they are clinically effective.”

The kinds of “treatments” cited include homeopathy, Reiki, aromatherapy, iridology, ear candling, crystal therapy, flower essences, kinesiology and Rolfing. I could add a few others, but these would at least be a good start. Many people don’t know what is involved in most of these. Have a look at Wikipedia, or the websites of the people that offer such stuff, and you are in for a sobering read.

I have more than a passing interest in all of this. At the end of 2011, five of us, disturbed by the number of Australian Universities that were offering courses in pseudoscience and calling them science, formed Friends of Science in Medicine  www.scienceinmedicine.org.au  Very quickly we have gathered more than 700 supporters, mostly distinguished academics, scientists, medicos and consumer advocates; many of them international and including some influential organisations. They  support FSM’s aims which are, broadly

  • maintaining tertiary educational institutions free of health-related courses not based on science;
  • engaging regulatory authorities (and other responsible health care bodies) to reduce the real and potential harm from ‘complementary and alternative medicines’ (CAMs) not based on science;
  • publicly challenging non-scientific principles of many practitioners of CAMs, revealing their covert attempts to deceive the public;
  • engaging the broader public to help clarify the exciting potential of more science for better medical care and
  • educating the public to help them understand how to receive evidence-based health care and how to avoid misleading and sometimes dangerous alternative CAM practices.

Our first attempt has been to clarify which universities are offering pseudoscientific courses of this kind. It is harder to do this than you’d think, and certainly harder than it should be when taxpayers’ dollars are used to fund such courses. Some universities are quick to deny that they offer these courses, some do not reply, others do so in terms so ambiguous that it is impossible to know what they offer, and their websites (in most cases) don’t give much away, but it looks as though about one third of Australian universities are teaching pseudoscience as heath science. Others claim to be doing research into what alternative treatments and medicines actually work – laudable if true, but sometimes a cover for teaching the stuff as if it is true.

At a time when scientific research funds are being cut, and demands on valid medical services are greater than ever before, it is extraordinary that taxpayers should still have millions of dollars of their taxes wasted annually through the funding of spurious university health courses and rebates for pseudoscience health “treatments.”

You can never know what your influence has been, but it is heartening to see, in the four months that FSM has been highlighting the absurdity of treating and funding these pseudosciences as if they were legitimate and evidence-based procedures, the NHMRC, Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and now the federal government have all taken steps to move against them.

Not before time, but the vested interests are already making waves, and you can bet that a new science/non-science controversy will erupt around the scientific validity or otherwise of these alternative practices. FSM has already received many such criticisms from the alternative brigade. We are accused of not having open minds, ignoring the fact that some of these treatments have been used for hundreds of years, that they must work because millions of people use them, that they helped a family member, etc, etc.

None of these, of course, carry any weight as scientific arguments, and they will all be familiar to those who have ever tried to deal with the creationists who argue against the science of evolution, but they do suggest that, as with those who deny evolution, members of the anti-vaccination lobby and people who call themselves climate-change skeptics but are, in fact, climate-change deniers, we are in for another round of public misunderstanding about, and challenges to, the ways in which science does its business.

Chief Scientist’s speech to ASC conference – the transcript of Ian Chubb’s presentation

Professor Ian Chubb, Australia’s Chief Scientist, was a worthy voice to present the Robyn William’s address, to open the ASC conference. Ian’s presentation started minds thinking and the points he raised kept delegates challenged throughout the 3 days of the event.

Kali Madden is continuing the spade work needed to post podcasts of various plenary sessions on the ASC website. Look for them to start rolling out in another month or two. In the meantime I’m posting the pdf of the transcript of Ian Chubb’s speech.

Jesse Shore
National President

Ian Chubb’s ASC2012 speech, 27 February 2012



Best Science Apps for iPhone/iPad:

Thanks to Joe Hanson for posting his best science apps for iphone / ipod – for the science and technology obsessed – enjoy!

Best Science Apps for iPhone/iPad:


–       NASA has a great free educational app where you can track spacecraft and learn about projects.

–       GoSkyWatch, which is inexplicably free for the iPad only version (and a very underpriced $3.99 for iPhone/iPad compatible version). Seriously, it will change your life. Point it at something, it tells you what it is. It even draws constellations and has a red low-light mode.


–       Molecules lets you input any Protein Data Bank or PubChem molecule identifier and then renders a 3-D version that you can rotate, zoom and space-fill. Must-have for molecular noodling on the fly.

–       The Elements is pretty pricey for an app at $13.99, but it’s bar none the best app for exploring the periodic table.

In The Lab:

–       Life Technologies has a useful app called DailyCalcs that will calculate solution concentrations, convert units, figure out dilutions and give you cell culture plating tips. Nothing you couldn’t look up or figure out on a paper towel, but nice to have it handy for free.

–       If you’re like me and you have to keep track of a lot of PDFs and research papers, I’m still torn on whether Mendeley or Papers is better. I use both, and I like both. One is free, of course.


–       WolframAlpha: There’s Wolfram reference support built into Siri, but the full app is like a math search engine/calculator/reference guide all in one. Very cool.

–       Skeptical Science will help you refute climate deniers right from your pocket!

[Extracted from Joe Hanson’s Blog: It’s Okay to Be Smart – post link here]

If you know of or use any great science apps, share it! (email: editor@asc.asn.au )


Outreach where they least expect it – Guerilla Astronomers

Thanks to Kirsten Gottschalk from ICRAR for contributing this post:

I have a confession – I love astronomy. Something about it has fascinated me ever since I can remember. Understandably then, it’s something I am very passionate about. This is why I was quite taken aback when I heard “People aren’t interested in looking through telescopes anymore,” during a session at the recent ASC National Conference.  From a respected astronomer no less! Luckily for me and my love of astronomy, her experience couldn’t be further from my own.


As part of my role in the Outreach and Education team at the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) I take a lot of telescopes to a lot of places and people are always interested to look through them, at them, or just talk about them.


One of my favourite outreach strategies is the idea of ‘Guerilla Astronomy’ – taking a telescope somewhere people will least expect it and introducing them to astronomy with no advertising or attempt to gather an audience.


Myself and a band of ICRAR’s professional astronomers take a small (but still impressive looking) telescope or two out to the side of a bike path, to the middle of the CBD shopping precinct, or to another outdoor event and simply stand next to our telescopes talking to anyone that comes near. People always come near, and the result is something that never ceases to remind me why I do what I do.


From the woman on her evening jog who got straight back in the car after seeing the Moon to go get her kids; to the children who wont let anyone else have a turn because they are so mesmerised by the Orion Nebula; through to a member of the public helping his elderly mother take her first close up look at Jupiter and its moons, and her gasp when the image became clear to her through the eyepiece. Talking with the astronomers who join me on these evenings, we have so many more positive engagement stories like these. To me, this kind of work is the most important and most interesting part of science communication – engaging with the unengaged and giving them a positive experience of science to take away.


There’s probably a large combination of things that make these events so successful – the unexpected experience, and therefore no expectations of what will happen, us being conveniently located where people are already, and in the evening when there’s sometimes a bit more time to spare. But I like to think that the telescopes themselves play a big part in it – they’re an ingeniously simple piece of machinery (just a couple of mirrors and a lens when you get down to it) that pack a big punch and make the previously invisible, visible.  Nothing beats seeing the red spot on Jupiter in person ‘for real’ and knowing that the light has travelled from the depths of the Sun where it was created in a nuclear reaction, all the way out to Jupiter (741 million kilometres) and then bounced off right back into this telescope and then your eye. Or maybe that’s just me?


I’ll admit, sometimes it is frustrating the first question is ‘How much is it worth?’ but there are always more questions, and I like to think that they’re only asking because they think it’s so cool they want one too!


Nevertheless, the benefits to me, to ICRAR, and our astronomers stemming from Guerilla Astronomy are numerous. It never ceases to inspire a researcher to be told their life’s work is utterly fascinating by either a 5 or 75 year old, and they get told often and emphatically at these impromptu events. We’ve also had so many people follow up for more information, attending our other larger events, or even organising us to visit their school or club for a talk stemming from one simple interaction by the Swan River on a Wednesday night.


Our last Guerilla Astronomy event had over 150 people look through our telescopes over the course of two hours, without us even having to put a sign out!


Kirsten Gottschalk
Outreach and Education Officer
ICRAR: Discovering the hidden Universe through radio astronomy


Nanotechnology regulations and the general public

The Department of Innovation Industry, Science and Resources (DIISR) has produced a brochure about nanotechnology and regulations aimed at the general public. They are looking for ways to make people aware of the brochure and to distribute it.

While the brochure is not a professional development resource about science communication, it is related to the broader area in which we work. The document is an interesting example of a government department communicating the reasons for regulating the technological arena of an emerging science. As such it both communicates science and government activity. Perhaps this is in response to public concerns, preliminary research studies and a realisation that the precautionary principle needs to be applied. The brochure contains a link to a website which is more science communication focused, http://technyou.edu.au/

In any of its possible purposes it is a means of informing the public about an important topic and is worthy of our awareness and our comment.

You can read the brochure (in pdf form) via this link, http://technyou.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Nanotech-Regulations.pdf.

Jesse Shore

National President