Raise a beaker to National Science Week 2017, when more than 1000 science events will take off, ignite your imagination and spark a scientific boom around the country! The weeklong celebration of Australian scientists and their work runs from August 12 to 20, starbursting into a meteor shower of state science festivals. Here GE Reports picks 10 top events to pique your interest. But don’t limit yourself—explore the full lineup, searchable by location, and expand your universe.
1) 3D Printing: Explaining our future
Sir Stanley Burbury Theatre, University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay, Tasmania
14 August, 5.30-7pm
Hang out with two professors who are working at the frontiers of 3D printing. Professor Michael Breadmore, an analytical chemist at University of Tasmania, is known for developing ‘lab-on-a-chip’ tiny portable analytical devices; used in the field, they can diagnose disease from a drop of blood, detect explosives in a residue microsample, identify pharmaceutical pollutants in a drop of water. Using 3D printing Breadmore’s team is further shrinking its little labs to the size of a molecule. At Queensland University of Technology, Professor Dietmar Hutmacher works to extend the capabilities of additive biomedical manufacturing—for example, developing bioinks, such as bioceramics that can be 3D printed to provide the scaffolding for regenerating bones in humans and animals.
2) World of Drones Congress
Brisbane Exhibition and Convention Centre, South Brisbane, Queensland
31 August to 2 September, 9am-2pm
There will be no end of highpoints in this Science-Week-associated event. Sign up for conference packages to enter into discussion with world experts about the new global drone economy and the future roles of unmanned aerial and other vehicles as first responders in emergencies; as environmental shepherds; in resources development and construction applications; in smart cities and agriculture; in cinematography, in sport and in media. Or join the general public on Saturday 2 September at the Expo, for the latest high-tech buzz, and to cheer at the drone tournament!
The Westmead Institute for Medical Research, 176 Hawkesbury Road, Westmead, NSW
15 August, 5-7.30pm
Enter the Institute, a state-of-the-art centre for collaboration and innovation among medical researchers. The theme of this evening is exploration and mining of massive medical datasets for community-health boosting gems; speakers will discuss the early results from groundbreaking analysis of medical data merged from diverse healthcare ecosystems. Projects currently underway at The Westmead Institute for Medical Research include: predicting readmission of adult patients using pathology results and admissions/discharge data; investigating the possible differences in treatment outcomes following hospital admission of indigenous children compared with other cultural groups; and predicting the adverse outcomes for preterm babies based on physiological and clinical data. Sling on your stethoscope and listen to the sound of data transforming our healthcare system.
4) Future Earth with Scitech
Scitech, Cnr Railway and Sutherland Streets, West Perth, WA
19-20 August, 10am-5pm
A micro home, a giant vertical garden, bugs on the menu and much, much more—experience the new era of sustainable living at Scitech, on Future Earth Family Weekend. Engage with guest speakers—like Craig Wale a hydraulics engineer from Carnegie Clean Energy, talking about wave power, and Dr Jemma Green who aims to advance sustainable living through disruptive innovation (she is co-founder of Power Ledger) and deploying artificial intelligence—and explore exhibits that build an enticing impression of how you will be living tomorrow.
Can’t make the Family Weekend? Drop in to the Scitech Future Earth-themed marquee at the Perth Science Festival—it’s free—on 12-13 August (10am-4pm), at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre. Learn how fish can further your gardening, and add your creativity to the gigantic colouring wall. More than 40 surrounding interactive stalls will feature explosive experiments and riveting science shows!
5) Soapbox Science Townsville 2017
Gregory Street Amphitheatre, The Strand, Townsville, Queensland
12 August, 1pm to 4pm
Challenging the perception of what a scientist looks like—not all hairy chested and with prominent Adam’s apples—University of Queensland and Townsville’s James Cook University (JCU) are sending a dozen brilliant, engaging, women scientists into the streets of Townsville to meet the public. Their aim is to show young women and girls their potential in STEM, and to blow your minds as they “perform” their work. See the Cannes-worthy film of last-year’s event below. This year’s line-up includes, Dr Kathryn Hall from Queensland Museum who’s Totally absorbed by sponges (did you know golfball sponges contain tumour-suppressing compounds?); Padmakana Malakar from JCU, Fighting malaria with photochemistry; Giana Gomes of JCU reenacting CSI underwater: Catching fish killers and don’t miss Dr Vanessa Adams of Macquarie University, talking Conservation from the boardroom.
6) Future of virtual and augmented reality with UNISA
Adelaide City Library, Level 3, Rundle Place Building, Rundle Mall, Adelaide, SA
18 August, 5.30-6.30pm
Global sales of virtual- and augmented-reality headsets are predicted to reach tens of billions of dollars by 2021. What will we do with them? This talk by world-leaders in the field, professors Mark Billinghurst and Bruce Thomas from the University of South Australia, will give you the lie of the virtual land as research labs are shaping it. Thomas is co-director of UNISA’s Wearable Computer Laboratory; Billinghurst works at the interface of virtual and real, exploring and developing ways in which they can be seamlessly merged and delivered at the human-computer interface. Headsets on! Buckle up. It’s going to be an incredible experience.
7) Latrobe Valley Power Industry Tour
PowerWorks, Morwell, Victoria
12-16 August, 1-3pm, $30 pp, bookings on 03-5134 6876
Understand the contribution of coal in powering our lives, even as we roll over into a new era of diverse energy sources. On this tour of the Latrobe Valley, one of Australia’s great powerhouse regions, you’ll view the world’s largest coal deposit, inspect a giant coal dredger, appreciate how turbine technology is at the heart of energy conversion in our power stations, and marvel at the effective use of aeroderivative engines to satisfy peak load. Your guide, Ron Camier, worked for 25 years in Victorian brown-coal R&D—he’s passionate about the history, geology, chemistry and economics of coal, and the future of energy. Dig in!
8) The adventures of an Air Force test pilot: Marija Jovanovich
Questacon, King Edward Terrace, Parkes, ACT
15 August, 6pm-7pm
Test pilots work at the frontiers of flight—think Chuck Yeager smashing the sound barrier in 1947! Marija Jovanovich became the RAAF’s second ever female test pilot in 2014 (first was Robyn Williams—read her story) after completing the gruelling 48-week program at Edwards Air Force Base in California. As part of the course, she flew 23 different aircraft, from the famous Russian biplane—Antonov An-2 Colt—to the F-16 Fighting Falcon. Now that she’s based back under home skies as Flight Commander of 10 Squadron at RAAF Base Edinburgh, Jovanovich takes the time to talk test pilot—it’s science applied to one of the most exciting careers seek.com could dream of. Attend this event (register) and get free entry to Questacon to explore the blockbuster aviation and aerospace exhibition, Above and Beyond, presented by Boeing.
Did you know that right now Australia has more space startups per head of population than anywhere else in the world, except perhaps California? It’s 16 years since the last Australian satellite took to space, but by the end of 2017 it’s expected scientists will have launched four new Australian satellites about the size of a loaf of bread, into space. The CubeSats weigh less than 2-3 kilograms, yet are filled with advanced payloads that wouldn’t be out of place in the standard 1m3, 1-tonne satellites. Slice one and you’d find off-the-shelf parts that reduce development cost and time, allowing scientists and entrepreneurs to focus on their scientific and commercial projects rather than on engineering the vehicle! Iver Cairns, Professor in Space Physics at the University of Sydney will take you through how Australia’s space program got a rocket boosting and, if it’s available, he’ll share initial data from the first three new satellites already in orbit!
10) Code Club—Moonhack
Last year Code Club broke a world record, with 10,207 Aussie kids all coding on the same day. This year the Moonhack event is going global. Launching in New Zealand (the country closest to the International Date Line) it will continue as August 15 dawns in every country around the world—from Sydney to Seoul, Dakha to Durham. Register to participate. Kids aged 8-18 can submit their own moon-themed project or try one of Moonhack’s guided projects. Code in company, from 4-5.30pm at Thomastown Library, 52 Main Street, Thomastown in Melbourne, where Scratch and Scratch Jr will be the languages of choice. Or choose a favourite language and program on the sofa, to help shift the dial for a massive number of coders all tapping into the moon on one day during Science Week.