National Science Week 15–23 August 2020

Info below from 2020 National Science Week email

Spoilt for Choice

Each year National Science Week extends an invitation for everyone to talk, see and do science, no matter where you are, how young or old you are, or what qualifications you have.

This year, even with pandemic restrictions, there are still hundreds of terrific virtual events to choose from. Live events will be held online, and many activities will be able to be done at home by adults, children and family groups. Some will be time based and others will be online whenever you are.

The best place to start looking is the National Science Week website. Hit the red tab that says ‘Find An Event’ then enter some keywords, topics or dates and see what’s available.

You can find some hands-on activities at their diy-science page here.

You can also check out Inspiring Australia’s New South Wales offerings or hop over the virtual border into Victoria or South Australia.

There really is so much to choose from – like…
– building your own weather station
– resurrecting extinct species
– food of the future
– aboriginal astronomy
– “legal personhood” for the moon
– design a marine creature
– meet a microbiologist
& more… So what are you waiting for!

To get you started we have highlighted some selections below.

Have a happy, productive and safe Science Week.


showcasing the best science films from filmmakers around the world

Now until 31 August
Register here

You may remember seeing selections from SCINEMA International Science Film Festival in previous years as part of our Science Hub offerings at the James Theatre. This year all SCINEMA films are available online and free for the month of August. We have been watching some of the program and it is fabulous. Just sign up and watch at your leisure between now and 31 August. Don’t miss out!

SCINEMA International Science Film Festival is the largest science film festival in the southern hemisphere.

People’s Choice Award
Watched a film from SCINEMA 2020? You could win a $500 JB HI-FI voucher, just for that! All you have to do is vote for your favourite film from this year’s festival. Submissions close on Sunday 6th September.

Vote now

Exploring Newcastle’s Coast

a virtual geology fieldtrip

Mon 17 Aug 5.30-6.30pm
Register here

by Geological Survey of NSW, Department of Regional NSW

Newcastle has some fascinating geological features. Join us for a virtual tour of the amazing geology of the Newcastle coastline. This public webinar will give you an insight into changing landscapes over 250 million years. Meet local geologists online and ask questions!

You will discover the vast forests of the supercontinent Gondwana. Hear about the opening of the Tasman Sea. Travel back in time, to the age of the dinosaurs and beyond! This webinar will take you on a virtual fieldtrip – visiting key sites on the Newcastle coastline with local geologists. Newcastle’s coastline presents a unique opportunity to enjoy the geological features along the Bathers Way coastal walk. From Nobbys Head to south of Merewether Baths, the prominent rock platforms and cliffs of the coastline record many different ancient geological environments. These ancient landscapes tell a story of major volcanic eruptions, river floodplains and swamps, plate tectonics, as well as more recent changes in sea level and the natural movement of beach sand.

The virtual tour explains the geological processes that created the landscape the city of Newcastle is built on — from the rocky ridges to the reclaimed land of the inner city, the use of natural resources by Aboriginal and European inhabitants, and the adaptation of plants, birds and animals along the coast. It highlights how different rocks were formed, and helps the public identify fossils and geological features. It provides engaging and accessible information on earth science for educators and students.

The virtual tour is a collaboration between the Geological Survey of NSW (Department of Regional NSW), the University of Newcastle and the City of Newcastle.

IHMRI’s Bite Size Science Webinars

Mon 17 – Fri 21 Aug 12.30-1pm each day
Register here

IHMRI’s Bite Size Science Webinars – Each day one of IHMRI’s researchers share their work for National Science Week.

Have you ever had a health related science question but haven’t had the opportunity to ask it? Well, now you can if you register for IHMRI’s Bite Size Science Webinars! Every day during National Science Week, an IHMRI researcher is available for you. Covering topics such as skin cancer treatments, cardiovascular health and exercise, learning about learning through the worm, and neurodegenerative diseases like Motor Neurone Disease and Parkinson’s Disease. From 17 – 21 August IHMRI researchers will be available to you, talking about their research and to answer your questions.

Dr Luke McAlary – Motor Neurone Disease
Mon 17 Aug 12.30–1pm
Motor Neurone Disease (MND) is a disease of the motor system, in which the cells responsible for voluntary movement (motor neurons) progressively die, causing patients to lose the ability to walk, talk, swallow and eventually breathe. Having completed his PhD under the supervision of Professor Justin Yerbury, Luke has committed his research efforts towards understanding the causes of MND and also finding a cure for this terrible disease. Register to hear how Luke’s team is researching the causes of MND.

Professor Heath Ecroyd – Neurodegenerative diseases
Tues 18 Aug 12.30–1pm
Neurodegenerative diseases are debilitating and insidious disorders that have an enormous financial, emotional and social cost to our community. Each day in Australia 37 people are told they have Parkinson’s disease and the estimated cost to the Australian economy of Parkinson’s disease is in excess of $12 billion. Register to hear Heath discuss his research into what causes these diseases, the work his team are doing to develop new drugs to treat (and maybe even prevent) these diseases.

Professor Marie Ranson – Skin cancers
Wed 19 Aug 12.30–1pm
Professor Marie Ranson has committed her research career to uncovering the secrets of cancer and to help develop better therapeutics against cancers. She is involved in a large multi-institutional study on cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas (cSCC) – one of the most common non-melanoma skin cancers in Australia. Despite its prevalence, it is not known why some tumours spread to local lymph nodes (metastasis) leading to very poor prognosis and why others do not. Register to hear Marie explain this research and to ask any questions you may have around non-melanoma skin cancers.

Dr Monique Francois – Reducing cardiovascular disease in people with diabetes
Thurs 20 Aug 12.30–1pm
Dr Monique Francois is leading a study funded by NSW health, looking at therapies to reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in people with diabetes (or at risk of diabetes). Monique will study whether the timing of exercise and the reduction of carbohydrates play a role in reducing heart disease. Register to hear more about this study and to ask your questions related to diabetes and heart disease.

Dr Yee Lian Chew – Worm: C and the human brain
Fri 21 Aug 12.30–1pm
Dr Yee Lian has spent the last 9 years of her life trying to understand life through the worm. Yes, the worm: C. elegans, the tiny nematode with the completely sequenced genome and fully-mapped nervous system. Hear her explain how her research at IHMRI uses the brain of this tiny worm, to reveal new information about the human brain, from looking at single cells and networks to advancing our understanding of how the networks in our brain to “learn” to adapt to a changing environment.

Dr Karl’s House Party

Mon 17 Aug 7–8.15pm
Register here

This online event will include live captions.

Dr Karl invites you to join him to kick off National Science Week with an awesome house party. Streamed live into your lounge room, learn about the animal that has to grow an anus each time it wants to defecate, how spiders can fly for thousands of kilometres and also count, why dead fish can swim indefinitely, and why humans have been making coffee the wrong way for six centuries.

Celebrate with us online and have a chance to win prizes when you post your science-themed celebration to Instagram or Twitter with #DrKarlsHouseParty and tag @Sydney_Science too.

As Prince would say, party like it’s 1999 but it’s 2020 so please party only with members of your own household responsibly…

Climate Change Panel: what can I do?

How to take effective action on climate change

Thurs 20 Aug 8pm
Register here

Join us Thursday August 20, 8pm AEST for a panel discussion exploring how individuals can take effective action to reduce carbon emissions.

The majority of Australians trust the science on climate change and believe action is important but don’t know how to best channel their actions to make a difference. Macquarie University’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences will be running a series of online events for National Science Week around the theme of personal action for environmental sustainability, including a live-streamed panel discussion on the question: ‘What can I do to impact climate change?’

Coordinated by Earth scientist Dr. Kate Selway and hosted by Lee Constable, panelists will span climate science, the media, politics, business and community organisations to delve into the issues and come up with tangible solutions. The online discussion will be streamed and recorded and members of the public will have the opportunity to send in their questions to the expert panel members.

Meet the panel

  • Professor Lesley Hughes, Distinguished Professor of Biology and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Integrity & Development) at Macquarie University. An ecologist by training, she has worked for more than 20 years to research and communicate the science of climate change.
  • Greg Bourne, a councillor with the Climate Council of Australia and an expert in the interplay between climate change, energy, business and policy. Originally trained as a chemist, he worked in the energy industry for over 30 years, including as regional president of BP Australasia.
  • Associate Professor Caroline Fisher, the Deputy Director of the News & Media Research Centre at the University of Canberra and co-author of the annual Digital News Report-Australia.
  • Katerina Gaita, the Founder and CEO of Climate for Change, a community organisation that aims to help everyday people understand the problems and challenges we face with climate change, and to inspire and empower them to make a difference.
  • Tennant Reed, the manager of Climate, Energy and Environment Policy at the Australian Industry (Ai) Group.

How Plants Work

Experiments & Competition

At home activity during Science Week
Register here

by Hunter Region Botanic Gardens

The award winning Hunter Region Botanic Gardens is proud to offer a chance to practice hands-on plant experiments at home during National Science Week.

Based on the ‘How Plants Work’ illustrated guide by Kevin McDonald, we will be uploading a different experiment every day during National Science Week to be done by families at home. Using light, water and paper towel, discover the germination process of seeds as they take root, learn how seedlings act when they’re kept away from sun, find out about the importance of water and sun in plant growth, and record your results like a true scientist.

Pick your favourite out of the experiments posted for Science Week, record your results, chart your findings in an A4 poster, and go in the running to win a prize pack worth over $200 (to be announced during Science Week), including a free copy of ‘How Plants Work’!

Event & Competition Details

7 at-home experiments focusing on different aspects of plant biology across 7 days during National Science Week via the Hunter Innovation and Science Hub Facebook page.

A printable page will be uploaded to the website and to Facebook. Print one for each experiment and record the growth of your plants each day as they grow and change

After completing your experiments, select your favourite and create an A4 poster about it
Your poster must:
Have a title
Contain a chart of the results
Tell us what you did and what you saw
Drawings of your experiment
To submit: Scan a copy of your poster and submit via this link

If families would like to purchase a copy of ‘How Plants Work’ by Kevin McDonald for your family, please email the team at for details. Cost is $19 (+ $10 postage and handling). Alternatively, visit the gardens located in Heatherbrae NSW to purchase your copy.