New global science of learning website launches

International publishing group Nature Research has launched a global online community dedicated to improving knowledge on the science of learning, in partnership with The University of Queensland.

The npj Science of Learning Community website is a space for communicators, teachers, policymakers and scientists working in neuroscience, education and psychology to discuss how to enhance learning in schools.

The website’s launch content includes:

  • An opinion piece from leading education researcher Professor John Hattie
  • Interviews with education thought-leaders and policymakers including Microsoft Corporation Teaching and Learning director Dr Cathy Cavanaugh, Google Australia Engineering Community and Outreach manager Sally-Ann Williams, and social commentator and writer Jane Caro
  • An article by the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Dr David Dockterman

The site is a place to discover and share information and news, learn from experts, and collaborate to advance the science of learning. You can explore and share content, follow your favourite contributors, and make your own contributions to the Community.

The website is live now and free to join.

Contact: Donna Lu, npj Science of Learning Community managing editor,, +61 7 3346 6419.

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.”

sciencerewired – members’ 30% discount extended and freebies for students

ASC is a supporter of sciencerewired. It has a packed all day program with a focus on digital media, With the members’ discount and student scholarships it becomes even more accessible to gain professional development in this rapidly evolving area.

The discount for ASC members to attend the sciencerewired event has been extended. You can register to attend for only $200, more than a 30% discount. Email to get the promotion code. sciencerewired is on 11 October 2012 at the RiAus in Adelaide.

Free student scholarships
There are a couple of free tickets remaining for ASC student members. Email to get the promotion code. Once these are freebies are the cost to students will be $147.50 incl GST, 50% off the full rate.

The discount and student scholarships are for financial ASC members only. A great incentive to renew now if you need to.

Jesse Shore
National President

sciencerewired – increased members’ discount and freebies for students

Breaking news – ASC members can now attend the sciencerewired event for only $200, more than a 30% discount, if you register by 26 September. Email to get the promotion code. sciencerewired is on 11 October 2012 at the RiAus in Adelaide.

Five free student scholarships
sciencerewired is also offering five free tickets on a first come basis to any ASC student member! After the five tickets are gone they offer a 50% discount to student members who are not as quick to register, bringing the cost to $147.50 incl GST. Email to get the promotion code.

The discount and student scholarships are for financial ASC members only. A great incentive to renew now if you need to.

ASC is a supporter of sciencerewired. It has a packed all day program with a focus on digital media, With the members’ discount and scholarships it becomes even more accessible to gain professional development in this rapidly evolving area.

Jesse Shore
National president

Speed mentoring at ASC conference

The ASC conference is less than six weeks away and additional program details and events keep coming in. We will announce our line up great social events for the Monday and Tuesday nights very soon. The speed mentoring session on day 1 of the conference is looking amazing with 15 mentors to be on hand. ASC members have often requested a mentoring program and this experimental format will be our first step toward providing that service.

Speed mentoring offers early career science communicators a chance to get tips and cautionary tales from those who have spent years honing their skills and advancing the craft. Mentors include:

  • Karl Kruszelnicki (aka Dr Karl – author, television and radio personality, Sleek Geek Week presenter, etc)
  • Adam Spencer (Dr Karl’s partner in the Sleek Geek Week science roadshow and television program, and ABC local radio breakfast announcer)
  • Wilson da Silva (editor-in-chief of Cosmos magazine)
  • Paul Willis (formerly of ABC TV’s Catalyst and now Director of RiAus)
  • Bernie Hobbs (broadcaster extraordinaire and formerly on the New Inventors program)
  • Elizabeth Finkel (award winning science journalist and book author)
  • John Curran (General Manager, CSIRO Communications)
  • Susannah Eliott (CEO, Australian Science Media Centre)
  • and seven other diversely experienced long-term achievers.

Everyone is invited although the target audience for this session are students and those relatively new to communicating science. We don’t want to get too crowded so we can to ensure everyone talks with several mentors.

I’ll be stage-managing the session (less formal than chairing or facilitating and more polite than saying shepherding). I’ve gathered the key ingredients and you folks are the reagents so let’s see what we can mix up on the day. Let me know whether you want to attend so I can plan out this experiment.

You can still register for the conference and it is great value. The program is bursting at the seams with great topics, issues, professional development, science-art, and all of Australia’s Chief Scientists. Drop me a line if you have yet to register as that helps with our planning.

Jesse Shore
Speed mentor wrangler

A Brighter Future for Science Conference Presentations?

I had a good response to my recent posting on the discussion list for feedback about a Physics World article, “Should scientific papers be written in a first-person narrative?” by James Dacey. The topic came to life again the other day in a related science communication experience.

I was on the judging panel for 2011 AIP NSW Postgraduate Awards Day where six students each gave a 20-minute presentation of their postgraduate research in physics. Presentations were judged for (1) content and scientific quality, (2) clarity and (3) presentation skills.

The four judges were very impressed by all the presentations. Each student crafted a narrative structure which was effective in introducing the context and history of their research topic, posing the current problems and presenting what they had done. Although the presentations covered very different areas of physics and some had a lot of technical detail, each student was able to communicate what they were doing to the physics-based audience.

These six students are among the top physics postgrads in NSW and the ACT and clearly had worked closely with their supervisors to achieve great presentations. I’m hoping that this represents a trend which values the importance of clear communication for research reporting.

To quote from the AIP NSW about the judging criteria, “These factors and others contribute to the overall impression of the candidate’s performance. A good talk is more than the sum of good performance in each component. The best talk is well-presented, well-practised, clear, conveys significance and impact, and is stimulating and memorable”.

Email me if you want a copy of the explanation of the judging criteria used for the AIP NSW Postgraduate Awards Day.

Jesse Shore
National President


South Australian Science Excellence Awards

Thanks to Lisa Bailey, RiAus for providing this information:

Calling members of the South Australian science and research community …

Do you know a recent PhD graduate with outstanding early-career achievement or a researcher with no more than five years workforce experience?  Or maybe a school or tertiary teacher who is making an outstanding contribution to student education and inspiring students to study further in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)?

In 2011, the South Australian Science Excellence Awards will be recognising outstanding achievement in the following categories:

  • South Australian Scientist of the Year
  • PhD Research Excellence

–          Health and Medical Sciences

–          Life or Environmental Sciences

–          Physical Sciences/Mathematics/Engineering

  • Early Career STEM Professional

–          Natural and Physical Sciences/Engineering/Mathematics

–          Health and Life Sciences

  • Early Career STEM Educator of the Year

–          School Teaching

–          Tertiary Teaching


The SA Scientist of the Year Award receives prize money of $20,000 with the remaining awards each receiving $5,000.

For further information, please visit

Call for Applications to Attend or Sponsor Attendees to Youth ANZAAS 2011

10 July 2011to15 July 2011

Anyone with links into high schools or direct to senior science students may be interested in promoting this, and if there are bodies out there keen to throw a small amount of dollars toward student scholarships or event funding please let us know.

Applications for Youth ANZAAS 2011: Brisbane are open to science students in grades 10-12 across Australia, and close very shortly (Fri 27rd May), although applications received after the closing date will be accepted until all places are filled. More information is available at and full information/application packages are available upon request.

Youth ANZAAS is a week-long residential conference for approximately sixty science students in Years 10, 11 and 12 from Australia and New Zealand. The event is organised by the Australian & New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science (ANZAAS), one of Australia’s oldest scientific associations. YA 2011 will be held in Brisbane from Sunday 10th July to Friday 15th July. The programme is based around advanced-level lectures and activities that will challenge attendees and expand their knowledge of the applications of science in the real world. Students will have the opportunity to visit world-class facilities where research is taking place and to engage with leading scientists, experiences which are usually unavailable to the general public. The conference also allows students to meet and create a network of like-minded peers who share their passion for science.

A registration fee (recently reduced to $400 with the aid of some sponsorship) covers all expenses through the week including travel to Brisbane from students’ local capital city. It is understood the cost may inhibit some students’ decision to apply, however some sponsorship of places may be available upon application and funding is also still being sought to further reduce the cost or provide sponsorship for individual places. Special consideration (students from regional and remote areas and with indigenous or ethnic backgrounds are encouraged to apply) is available for candidates upon request.

If there are people or groups interested in offering sponsorship to students please feel free to contact us with your offer.


If you have any queries about the program, the application process or anything else regarding Youth ANZAAS 2011 please contact us via or 0408 797 837. Further information may be available at

100,000 students engaged in NSW science and engineering challenge

The University of Newcastle celebrated a milestone in science and engineering engagement recently with the 100,000th student participating in the Science and Engineering Challenge.

The Challenge changes students’ perceptions about what a career in science or engineering entails as they compete in a variety of activities including building bridges, making catapults, navigating virtual mazes and decrypting codes.  The principle message they take from the competition is that a career in science or engineering involves creativity, innovation, problem solving and team work.

Developed by the University’s Faculty of Science and Information Technology and Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, the innovative program has been successful at convincing students to continue with maths and science in senior secondary school to keep their options open for careers in science and engineering.

The Challenge is a partnership with Rotary, Engineers Australia and universities across Australia, and is sponsored nationally by the Australian Constructors Association.  The Challenge has previously won the Engineers Australia National Engineering Excellence Award for the best engineering project in Australia.

Professor John O’Connor, Head of the University’s School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences, said the Challenge was established in 2000 as a way of boosting enrolment in secondary high school science and mathematics.

The Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research has provided one million dollars over two years to support both the Challenge and the University’s SMART program, which delivers interactive science shows to primary school students, said Professor O’Connor.

Since its inception, the Challenge has grown from a local event to one involving more than 20,000 students per year from high schools across Australia each year. The participation of 100,000 students in the program demonstrates the wonderful success the Challenge has achieved throughout its 10 year history.

One of its great strengths is the principle of “local ownership”. In every location, a local organising committee coordinates activities in their region.

Professor O’Connor welcomes interest from ASC members wishing to assist with future Challenge activities. Find out more here: or contact: Professor John O’Connor – ASC NSW Branch / Hunter Chapter, john.oconnor [at]