Inspiring Australia - Connecting communities with science, technology and innovation
Inspiring Australia - Connecting communities with science, technology and innovation
B knowledge .. Sharing STEM knowledge with diverse communities Cover image: The Medieval Bundanon, a Siteworks performance at Bundanon Trust. Photo by Mark Newsham.
1 “Knowledge, ideas and innovation are the ultimate renewable resources that generate positive returns, over and over again.” Professor Emma Johnston AO Dean of Science UNSW National Press Club, 2018. Inspiring Australia Inspiring Australia is the national strategy for public engagement with science, technology and innovation and plays a key leadership role in shaping the Australian Government’s vision for a society engaged in and enriched by science.
Using a ‘National Framework – Local Action’ approach, Inspiring Australia delivers effective, high-impact and coordinated science engagement activities that build on existing achievements, draw on the strengths of the science sector and work in partnership with diverse communities. It promotes consistent approaches to large scale campaigns like National Science Week while also developing activities that meet local needs.
With the support of State and Territory Governments, the initiative promotes the value of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) to the nation’s economic and social wellbeing. Collaborative partnerships and stakeholder networks extend the reach of existing activities, identify gaps and leverage non-Government support for science engagement and advocacy. Working with the country’s science and research agencies, education providers, industry and business and the cultural sector, Inspiring Australia’s purpose is to raise the profile of scientists and STEM opportunities. By increasing public engagement with science, Inspiring Australia creates opportunities for Australians everywhere to get involved in STEM.
In New South Wales, Inspiring Australia’s focus is to connect science and engineering researchers to big audiences. Hundreds of statewide partners collaborate as Regional Science Hubs to inspire communities with memorable and engaging events that showcase scientific and technological discovery. The welcoming programs they deliver encourage diverse audiences to develop critical thinking skills, improve their scientific literacy and respond to the rapid change that is redefining the world and our place in it.
Minute, a Siteworks microscopy performance at Bundanon Trust. Photo by Heidrun Lohr.
2 Connecting Developing an ecosystem of committed STEM advocates. Inspiring Australia seeks to improve the impact and reach of scientific knowledge. Its New South Wales network generates enormous social, cultural, educational and economic impact - from increased engagement with local research and the development of cross-sector partnerships to evidence-based advocacy, artistic creations, community festivals and events. The statewide initiative creates leadership opportunities for communities to develop science engagement programs that appeal to local audiences. By providing community access to scientists, Inspiring Australia’s welcoming programs demonstrate the value of STEM skills and help improve scientific literacy, with a focus on engaging people who may not have opportunities to discover science.
Another priority is sharing ideas and knowledge amongst stakeholders and building local capacity to deliver STEM programs. This is achieved by offering: • Networking events to inform stakeholders across the research, business, government and community sectors of science and innovation policy development, grant opportunities and other relevant information. • Presentation skills training for researchers. • Professional development for partners. • Regional representation in campaigns like National Science Week.
• Promotion and sharing of news and opportunities in national online channels.
Commercialising Research Forum at Sydney School of Entrepreneurship Photo by David Vagg.
3 In six years, with the support of the New South Wales and Commonwealth Governments and host institution the University of Sydney, Inspiring Australia NSW has created a statewide network that includes 22 Regional Science Hubs and an array of valuable partnerships with museums, venues, industry groups, cultural associations and festivals. 921 organisations are involved in this low- cost program model where each dollar of investment leverages at least three times its value in partner funding as well as in-kind support.
• In 2018, Commonwealth program funding of $317,000 leveraged $1.2 Million additional funding as well as in-kind support.
• 297,000 people attended 779 events that were supported or initiated by Inspiring Australia NSW. • Thousands more were engaged through legacy content – from videos, podcasts, theatrical performances and websites to AR and VR apps, festivals, workshops and art projects. Many art-science projects and creative event formats supported by Inspiring Australia NSW funding continue to delight audiences around Australia and internationally.
Consolidating Top: This Sounds like Science at City Recital Hall Bottom: The Science Tent at Splendour in the Grass Photos by David Vagg.
4 Inspiring Australia NSW works with individuals and organisations that are passionate about improving their communities and promoting the central place of science in our economic and social wellbeing. Transforming Dr Alice Motion with two young scientists. Photo by Jackie Randles Positioning science and technology at the heart of Australia’s cultural identity, Inspiring Australia NSW advocates for the inclusion of research themes and scientists in prominent public programs such as VIVID and the Spark Festival of Australian startups and provides scientists with an influential voice in important public conversations.
5 Inspiring Australia NSW supports public engagement programs that share its vision to improve the impact and reach of Australian research knowledge, build scientific literacy and help ensure that citizens are informed, educated and look to evidence-based information when making important decisions. Regional Science Hubs facilitate unique opportunities for scientists to participate in regional forums and listen to community concerns. I Top: Commercialising Research Forum at Sydney School of Entrepreneurship Middle: Sydney Science Festival 2018 program launch Right: The Science Tent at Splendour in the Grass Photos by David Vagg
6 Sydney Science Festival A standout example of how Inspiring Australia NSW fosters collaboration to improve impact is Sydney Science Festival, a partnership framework established in 2015 to amplify the reach of National Science Week across Sydney. Now produced by the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, with funding, engagement and advocacy support from Inspiring Australia NSW, the Festival provides audiences in the Greater Sydney Region with access to welcoming science experiences in parks, museums and libraries, on university campuses and at prestigious venues. Through building citywide collaboration, Inspiring Australia NSW has increased opportunities for community members to connect with Sydney’s vibrant research culture and be inspired by cutting edge science.
Universities, museums and libraries celebrate science alongside iconic venues including Sydney Opera House, Taronga Zoo, Art Gallery of NSW, City Recital Hall, Sydney Olympic Park, Centennial Park, the Royal Botanic Garden and the Australian Botanic Garden at Mount Annan. Tech Expos pop up in shopping centres and the Indigenous Science Experience at Redfern explores science and culture through activities led by Indigenous elders and students alongside non-Indigenous scientists.
Earth dinosaur at Science in the Swamp. Image courtesy of Centennial Park. The pump track at the Innovation Games. Image courtesy of Sydney Olympic Park.
7 22% 29% 85,424 2015 2016 2017 2018 39,300 62,270 72,994 85,424 AUDIENCE MEMBERS AUDIENCE PROFILE EVENTS LOCAL SCIENTISTS & RESEARCHERS EVENTS 202 418 PROGRAM PARTNERS Program Partners Program Partners 38 NEW 81 TOTAL 54% Attended one event Attended three events 26% Attended two events 21% 50% 29% 17% 16% North Shore and Hills 16% Western 17% Sydney 5% SYDNEY SCIENCE FESTIVAL 7-19 AUG 2018 Sydney Science Festival images by Inspiring Australia NSW.
Infographic courtesy of Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences.
8 2016 2018 2021 Target 2014 2013 Inspiring Australia NSW begins 5,200 attendees 8 Science Hubs 45 partners 21 events $40,000 raises further $40,000 40,000 attendees 14 Science Hubs 250 partners 220 events $75,000 raises further $90,000 100,800 attendees 20 Science Hubs 620 partners 416 events $158,000 raises further $208,000 297,000 attendees 22 Science Hubs 921 partners 779 events $317,000 raises further $1.2 Million 500,000 attendees 30 Science Hubs 1500 partners 1,200 events $500,000 raises further $2 Million A growing network ...
9 , NSW Regional Science Hubs National framework-local action Promoting the importance of building the country’s STEM capacity in a rapidly evolving, global innovation system requires national effort on many levels – particularly at the grass roots.
Inspiring Australia’s NSW Regional Science Hub network offers a low-cost, sustainable response to this challenge. Leveraging three times the value of funding provided by the State and Commonwealth Governments, Regional Science Hubs provide a focal point for local program activity. “Science is of limited worth without community engagement: if we want science to be supported and appreciated in Australia, it is critical we talk directly to the community about the burning issues of the day.” Professor Edward C. Holmes, Australian Laureate Fellow, The Royal Society (UK).
10 Inspiring Australia NSW’s engagement strategy is underpinned by Regional Science Hubs that involve at least three partners working together to present local engagement experiences addressing STEM themes. NSW Science Grants provide funding that is matched by partner support and investment. This model builds a strong ecosystem while developing local skills and connecting STEM knowledge to diverse communities through creative and engaging public programs. With modest funding support, Regional Science Hubs achieve Inspiring Australia’s objective to promote pubic engagement with science, technology and innovation using a National Framework- Local Action approach: • Communities create, collaborate and participate in regional programs.
• Scientists and technologists connect with a diverse public, improving their communication skills. • Memorable events build scientific literacy and encourage STEM careers. • Inspiring Australia funding supports enduring partnerships and builds capacity in STEM. Collaborating The New South Wales network enables diverse communities to explore scientific issues, build scientific literacy and access STEM knowledge. Limelight: Lights Camera Action! in Albury Wodonga. Photo by Nat Ord Manifesto Photography
11 Regular public programs deliver long-term, cumulative effects, described by participating partners as: • Forging deep connections and understanding how science relates to all aspects of life. • Creating opportunities for people to acquire and enjoy new knowledge. • Providing a compelling vision for securing a sustainable future. • Responding to the global challenges of climate change. • Growing the pool of STEM-qualified people who will be able to perform future jobs. • Engaging the public with STEM issues to improve public understanding of science and to create a more aware and engaged society.
Through promoting curiosity, creativity and critical thinking as part of mainstream culture, often in a creative, entertainment context, Regional Science Hubs communicate the positive impact Australia’s science and research knowledge has in the world. Local audiences appreciate having access to scientists and are inspired by learning about the global applications of their work. “Working together across our community and inviting input from local experts enables us to create richer, deeper experiences for people.” Christine Bolton, Riverina Science Hub. Riverina Science Festival. Photo by Jackie Cooper, Jack of Hearts Studio.
12 Celebrating Regional festivals provide a focal point for local research talent alongside invited guests, uniting stakeholders with an interest in STEM and often leading to ongoing public programs. Hunter Science Festival has brought 31 organsiations together that now deliver year-round science outreach programs from Newcastle to Lake Macquarie and Scone. Riverina Science Festival has led to dozens of STEM activities being presented throughout the year. From Nerd Nites at the pub to Little Bangs for pre-schoolers and CodeClub at the library, year-round programs engage all ages and also offer a focus on Indigenous knowledge.
Lismore’s popular Arts Vs Science Festival continues throughout the year as Science Walks Science Talks, an event series with a focus on sustainability and environmental science through the lens of creativity and innovation. The Science Tent at Splendour in the Grass sees leading researchers from across Australia present talks and demonstrations at this popular three-day music festival that attracts 135,000 young people and is an annual highlight in the state’s destination events calendar. Art Vs Science in Lismore, The Science Tent at Splendour in the Grass and Riverina Science Festival. Photos by Kristin den Exter, Elise Derwin and Jackie Cooper.
13 Participating organisations describe Regional Science Hubs as: • A network of enthusiastic groups and individuals passionate about sharing the wonder of science in their communities. • A collective with a shared vision and passion for engaging all sectors of the community in STEM and its potential to improve lives. • Dynamic partnerships dedicated to producing engaging science programs that people want to participate in. • Influential working groups of passionate STEM champions. Through creating community engagement experiences that are relevant, thought-provoking and often entertaining, Regional Science Hubs promote positive attitudes towards STEM.
They increase the confidence and skills of parents, teachers and young people to engage with the science and technology in everyday life and understand its global applications. By connecting experts with community members, Regional Science Hubs close the gap between science and society. “Maintaining skills in STEM is not only about education and career development but also about engaging the Australian community with science and technology.” National Science Statement (2018). Participants in the Paterson Allyn Williams Science Hub represent diverse interests, forming a rural network of networks interested in exploring both local knowledge and topical science issues.
Regular events build in-depth engagement through informative discussions on topics that make a difference in people’s daily lives followed by social get togethers. Among activities are panel discussions, field days, citizen science activities, film screenings and hands on experiences. The group also create media content and legacy programs such as the introduction of Boomerang Bags and a Koala survey.
Image courtesy of Paterson Allyn Williams Science Hub
14 Enduring partnerships = long-term collaborations Inspiring Australia NSW only offers funding to initiatives that sustain lasting partnerships. Robust networks enable locally relevant programming to evolve over time, attracting strong audiences. Partnership model = increased return on investment Grant funding leverages three times its value through cash and in-kind support from community partners, including venues, skills, marketing and talent. Local networks = stronger communities Regional Science Hubs are self-managed and administered, developing skills and regional cooperation while reducing competition.
Professional skills = quality engagement Partners contribute professional skills, ensuring best practice science engagement and quality, high impact programs. Participation = professional development Inspiring NSW offers network partners professional development and high level networking opportunities.
Public awareness = increased investment Voters who understand the difference research makes are likely to support increased public investment in STEM. Businesses that discover the potential of research collaboration may invest in partnerships to help them achieve their goals. Enriching Photo by Elise Derwin
15 Art/science collaborations translate scientific knowledge in unexpected and memorable ways, raising the profile of scientists and creating new art works. Ambitious projects supported by Inspiring Australia NSW have led to significant arts funding, commissions and further opportunities for scientists to translate their research through the arts, including internationally and via online documentation.
Creating Neural Knitworks brings neuroscientists together with community members to make textile neurons, forge new neural pathways in their brains and discuss neuroscience research. In 2014, two thousand handmade neurons were displayed in a giant brain sculpture at Hazelhurst Regional Gallery. Since then, Neural Knitworks has engaged dozens of Australian and international neuroscientists and hundreds of communities across Australia and internationally. Several large-scale brain installations have been created at well-attended events, including at the celebrated Cambridge Science Festival in the UK.
Neural Knitworks: Craft a Healthy Brain. Photos by Silversalt and Walter and Eliza Hall Institute
16 Sounds like Science at City Recital Hall Sydney brings top researchers to the stage alongside musicians to address topics such as maths, the neurobiology of listening, room acoustics, quantum physics, astrophysics, anxiety, memory and evolutionary biology. Each event connects researchers with audiences of up to 1100 people. Social media, print and radio coverage extend the engagement value of this series presented in partnership with one of Sydney’s celebrated venues.
From top: Prof. David Reilly, A/Prof. Muireann Irish, Dr Sandra Garrido and Prof Katherine Boydell. Photos by David Vagg.
17 Infinity Minus One is a dancework by Taiwanese choreographer Su Wen- Chi that was inspired by a residency at CERN. At the Liveworks Festival of experimental art, Wen-Chi joined astrophysicist Professor Geraint Lewis in a public conversation about the vast scale of the universe. “The Universe is where science gets to meet infinity, infinite space and infinite time. In uniting with the arts, we can convey these mind-bending concepts beyond the pages of textbooks and views through telescopes, and bring the wonder of the cosmos to all.” Professor Geraint F Lewis, University of Sydney. Photos by Etang Chen, courtesy of Su Wen-Chi.
18 Siteworks is Bundanon’s annual spring event that brings scientists, artists and community voices together in a unique natural environment to share knowledge and appreciate the wonder of the world. Participants experience interconnectedness - of nature and culture, art and science, history and geology – with scientists leading discussions alongside unforgettable, participatory performances by artists. The CORRIDOR project based near Cowra NSW explores the science, technology and Indigenous knowledge of the Central West through the arts. From recreating a Devonian billabong using 3D animations, facilitating a makespace and running scientific illustration workshops to presenting science-themed performances in a historic woolshed and creating short films about local STEM talent, the CORRIDOR project’s creative STEAM approach brings science to life.
Sky Trails connected community members in Young, Goulburn and Picton with Indigenous and Islamic artists, scholars and astronomers at a series of evening astronomy discussions. Students created artworks and the Macarthur Astronomical Society provided telescopes to allow participants to explore the night sky. Photo by Katie Rivers Photo courtesy of the CORRIDOR project Photo courtesy of Southern Tablelands Arts
19 Eaton Gorge Theatre Company works with researchers to create interactive performances on science themes. From stories based on research findings that inspire action on endangered species to recreating the lives of notable scientific heroes, its entertaining, interactive approach appeals to audiences of all ages. Each new work adds to a rich store of local STEM engagement capital that can be performed and toured. Body Mapping offered the Black Dog Institute’s researchers a chance to connect with artists and explore how anxiety is experienced in the body through drawing. Works created at Sydney Science Festival formed the basis of a sculpture later presented at VIVID.
An ongoing partnership also emerged between Inspiring Australia NSW and The Big Anxiety Festival. Photo courtesy of Murray Arts Photo by Prof. Katherine Boydell, the Black Dog Institute.
20 Inspiring Australia NSW’s 2017 Commercialising Research forum brought 40 science and technology researchers from Sydney’s universities, Data61 and the CSIRO together with venture capitalists and research-based startups to discuss what it would take to create more effective relationships between academia and industry. The 2018 Spin on Spinouts event at Sydney Startup Hub showcased companies developed though research-industry partnerships to commercialise knowledge created at CSIRO’s Data61. Participants shared experiences of cross sector collaborations with audience members keen to explore startup opportunities.
In the regions, Science Hubs presents innovative STEM programs that have the potential to create commercial outcomes, including as part of National Science Week, citizen science projects, library programs, talks in pubs and clubs and activities created with the local startup community.
Commercialising Inspiring Australia NSW brings science and technology into the Spark Festival of Australian startups, supported by Jobs for NSW. Inspiring Australia NSW supported Australia’s first Regional Innovation Week held in the Bega Valley in 2016. The week-lomg festival saw entrepreneurs and technology enthusiasts join ecologists, schools and business leaders at a range of events designed to build digital skills and create jobs. Questacon’s Smart Skills team was on hand with free robotics and coding activities and a Sea Change StartUp Camp developed novel solutions to local challenges.
These activities paved the way for the Bega Valley Innovation Hub launched in 2019. Photo by Doug Reckord, Sapphire Coast Science Hub
21 STEM education STEM knowledge is critical to healthy communities, a thriving economy and a skilled future workforce. Yet Australia faces a STEM skills shortage. In New South Wales diverse programs help build STEM knowledge by exploring its relevance to everyday life at welcoming events. Across the state, community-led programs delivered in libraries and museums show how science and technology are solving global challenges. Community members discover how STEM studies can open doors to cool jobs, thrilling careers and inspiring futures. Australia’s poor international standing in maths and science is a well-documented national issue.
Fewer students are enrolling in science and technology courses at tertiary level and rapidly changing workforce needs have provoked urgent calls for action to redress the STEM skills shortage. Through its diverse public programs, including those that feature women in STEM, Inspiring Australia challenges stereotypes around what kind of person becomes a scientist, promoting diversity and equality. Scientific literacy In a world driven by rapid technological change, it’s increasingly important that people are aware of and understand the science behind their choices. Science literacy leads to informed decisions and helps community members distinguish between facts and fiction.
Improving scientific literacy requires long-term effort on many levels. Inspiring Australia’s committed, collaborative framework enables the delivery of sustainable programs that can meet this need and provide access to evidence-based information. Educating Promoting STEM education and science literacy through entertaining and educational experiences for all ages. “Great program for young and old! I love that events are free, local and family friendly. They bring the community together to get educated and network while supporting local hospitality businesses.” Science at The Local attendee, Blue Mountains.
22 MacArthur Science Hub is convened by the Australian Botanic Garden at Mt Annan and delivers large public programs in National Science Week that reach more than 20,000 people. Year round programs enable participants to discover incredible plant science underway at the unique Australian PlantBank facilities. A Jurassic Gardens Virtual Reality App allows visitors to project images of Australian megafauna throughout the gardens, adding novel technology to the visitor experience. Students, musicians, ecologists and artists in Armidale come together to explore local science themes and create exhibitions at the New England Regional Art Museum.
Using locally developed tree sensors that monitor sap flow and collect data to indicate soil quality and tree health, the SMART Tree Project explored how trees respond to environmental factors. Participant findings contributed to a sound and sculpture installation and a series of hands on activities using sap flow monitors.
Little things that run the world invited community members to collect and study ants. Data informed the creation of a giant sculpture depicting an ant nest. Its tunnels and chambers played host to remotely controlled ants that performed tasks in a cooperative society. The 6-week discovery project concluded with an AntBlitz where ants were hunted, collected, sorted, identified, pinned and curated. “Our programs develop critical thinking and questioning to provide regional community members with knowledge and problem-solving skills to have a better quality of life.” Brian Doherty, Paterson Allyn Williams Science Hub.
Photo by Dr Kirsti Abbott, New England North West Science Hub Photo by Jackie Randles
23 The National Indigenous Science Education Program (NISEP) hosted at Macquarie University seeks better educational outcomes for Indigenous youth, helping students broaden ideas of what’s possible, develop confidence and become role models in their communities. By placing regional Indigenous students into leadership roles and training them to present science demonstrations to younger students and the community alongside scientists and Elders, NISEP achieves its goal of school retention for the majority of participating students. Inspiring Australia is a proud supporter of this unique program's participation in National Science Week each year.
The Medieval Bundanon saw 1000 people seated on the edge of a deep trench on the banks of the Shoalhaven River at dusk to contemplate geomorphology and what it can tell us about the Medieval Warm Period (950 -1250 AD). In Britain, they were growing grapes. So what was happening in the Shoalhaven at that time? First, a team of local scientists explained how muddy sediments tell the story of many centuries of floods through layers of soil. Then, the audience was treated to a series of unexpected and memorable events as it became dark. At the conclusion of a thrilling performance that combined music, fire and Indigenous dance with science, the audience was invited into the trench to examine the tools, flood markings and survey graphs - and to taste the mounds of dirt collected in a metal trough.
To everyone’s delight, it was chocolate. “Science Hubs fulfill the community’s desire to know and understand the science being produced locally, often to address serious environmental challenges.” Libby Hepburn Sapphire Coast Science Hub. Photo by Mark Newsham Photo by Geoff Crane
24 Over time, Inspiring Australia NSW expects that its strategic approach will lead to: • Increased retention in and more students pursuing STEM subjects at school. • Increased STEM enrolments at university. • Enthusiastic citizen scientists. • Engaged community members confident in their approaches to understanding the technologies that are rapidly changing our world. The Regional Science Hub network’s collective vision for long-term success includes: • Engaged and inspired communities. • A smart country where science and technology are part of the landscape • An inclusive culture where local science heroes - including women and those from Indigenous backgrounds - share the limelight with sporting stars.
Other outcomes Inspiring Australia NSW’s statewide partners aspire to acheive include: • Community access to regular opportunities to acquire new knowledge through entertaining and memorable events that develop skills and spark curiosity. • Creative collaborations between artists and scientists.
• Improved quality of life through critical thinking and greater contact with scientists. • Regional communities of interest and sustainable funding models to cater to a growing interest in science. • Equal access to science and knowledge for the benefit of all– including in the regions. • Robust links between research and the public in the interest of a stronger democracy and informed decision-making. • High-profile advocates who ensure that STEM knowledge and skills are made available to all. Expanding Photo courtesy of Dr Stefan Hrabar, Data61
25 In New South Wales, Inspiring Australia is a partnership between the University of Sydney, the NSW Department of Industry through the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer and the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Innovation and Science.
Organisations seeking to increase public awareness and support for Australia’s incredible science and technology achievements and help inspire the next wave of innovators are encouraged to join the network. For further information please contact: Jackie Randles Manager, Inspiring Australia (NSW) firstname.lastname@example.org @jackie_randles T +61 2 9 351 5198 E email@example.com www.inspiringnsw.org.au Get in touch NSW Inspiring Australia & National Science Week Executive Committee Jas Chambers (Chair), Australian Bureau of Meteorology; Kristl Mauropoulos, University of Sydney; Chris Newman and Bruce Ritchie, Office of NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer; Tamara Niznik and Geoff Crane, Questacon.
Members of the NSW Regional Science Hubs network gather at a Leadership Forum in Sydney. Photo courtesy of Inspiring Australia NSW.
26 Follow us online inspiringnsw.org.au