Students interacting with our Science On The Road team
Students from the Tamworth and broader New England region interacting with our Science On The Road team when they had a stall set up at the University of New England in Tamworth. Image: Charlie Kingsford
© Australian Museum

Last week, the Science Engagement and Events team (with a couple of Outreach and Education staff thrown in for good measure and good times) headed up to Tamworth for a three and a half day Science on the Road extravaganza. It was all kicked off by testing our knowledge at a science trivia night at The Welder’s Dog. A respectable equal 6th place for team “Bin Chickens” gave us the confidence we needed to bring the science of the Australian Museum to Tamworth!

Ellie, Renee, Ashleigh, Geoff, Jo (Wojciechowicz) and myself worked with the Discovery team of our the event’s partners, the University of New England to put on some amazing lessons and shows (if we do say so ourselves) for local schools in the New England area. We saw 320 primary school students and 160 high school students over two days, with some students travelling 2-3 hours just to come! As well a CSI mystery to solve, the ‘Volcanos, Eruptions and More’ show and our Aboriginal Bush Food and Medicine workshop, the AM and UNE team closed off Fitzroy Street’s pedestrian junction in the centre of town for a 10-booth expo over Thursday and Friday, with a little help from Ron and the volunteers at the Tamworth Powerstation Museum. (Did you know that Tamworth was the first city to have electric street lights in Australia?!?).

After two action packed days of school events, the team headed to Bicentennial Park on Saturday, bringing our booths and shows for a day of ‘Science in the Park’ for the local community. We had an estimated 600 attendees hang out with us for a good 3-4 hours; keen to explore, question and learn, not to mention squelch through Geoff’s homemade oobleck. While the sun blazed, so too did our presenters and stall holders, keeping budding young scientists engaged with strawberry DNA extraction and rainbow volcanos, while UNE taught everything from soil science and sports science to engineering and natural history.

While most of the team was able to pack up and head home, the work continued for Ellie and me, who attended Tamworth Bunnings on Sunday to bring the FrogID citizen science project to the bargain hunters, DIYers and sausage sizzlers. As partners on FrogID, Bunnings were welcoming and gracious hosts keen to help us rustle up interest in frog biodiversity, the FrogID app and frog habitats. We set up our little booth and screen with everything froggy, getting a few on the spot downloads and even an appearance from a FrogID veteran, Ben, who had been using the app for over a year! We were also lucky enough to have some keen beans from the Saturday’s festival, desperate to track us down and squeeze that final juicy drop of science out of their weekend.

We had a great few days, and it was an absolute privilege to bring what we do at the Australian Museum out into other parts of the state. No matter how many times you hear it, having a student say that they have added ‘scientist’ to their list of dream jobs is always such a thrill.

Tamworth, we’ll be calling you.