From smashing strawberries to marvellous minerals – what a wonderful week of Sydney Science Trail!
Each year the Australian Museum celebrates National Science Week, and for the first time in two years, we were able to hold this science extravaganza on site! Learn how our scientists took part in this jam-packed week.
This year from August 13 - 21, the Australian Museum in collaboration with the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney presented Sydney Science Trail– a jam-packed program of school excursions for primary and secondary students, community events and an online trail. The Sydney Science Trail (SST) welcomed 1,370 students on-site over five days, and 4,227 visitors to the Australian Museum’s Community Saturday event on 20 August, with the SST Expo being a major feature.
For the last two years, SST has been held exclusively online due to COVID-19 restrictions, and the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI) staff scientists were very excited to take part in person this year on site. AMRI is the science division of the Museum, and AMRI staff work on understanding and responding to challenges facing our planet through scientific research, communication and education.
From Monday (15 August) to Saturday (20 August), the AMRI stall was set up at the Expo alongside many wonderful partners and collaborators including the valued support of the University of New England, University of Technology Sydney and the Centenary Institute. Each day at the AMRI stall, our scientists shared their work and our collections, representing a different branch of AMRI each day.
On Monday, we had our wonderful digitisation and citizen science experts on the stall, teaching secondary kids about FrogID, DigiVol, and the Australasian Fishes project. A crowd favourite was Wildlife spotter – students and teachers trying to spot the animal in our camera trap footage. Another favourite activity was learning all about molluscs with digitisation officer, Jae Santos!
Our Collection Care and Conservation team was teed up for Tuesday – our CC&C team are experts in preventive conservation programs and treatment programs. On Tuesday, the team taught kids about the many uses of Japanese tissue paper in our work. You may think the images below are of real feathers but they are in fact coloured Japanese tissue paper, used to replace real feathers, on the taxidermy specimen below!
Wednesday was the first day of the primary school program, where Ross Pogson (Collection Manager of Mineralogy and Petrology) wowed the students. Ross shared many facts and stories about our rocks from outer space – I stuck to my limited knowledge of quartz crystal and garnet (did you know each side is a rhombus?).
On Thursday, the students had an opportunity to ‘guess the specimens’ from our Ornithology and Mammalogy teams; another crowd favourite with the kids was asking: can you tell the difference between the introduced and native species pictured here?
Wrapping up the school visits on Friday was the wildly popular ACWG team, where students got to extract DNA from bananas…which then became strawberries (the bananas were a bit too green to be smashed, but would it really be science if we didn’t do a trial run first?). Students queued up all day to take part in this experiment!
Saturday was the Community Day, a huge day packed with many activities for anyone and everyone to enjoy. We had our staff from Life and Geosciences, Digitisation, Mammalogy, Ornithology, CC&C, ACWG and more take part – Natalie Tees was also part of an all day program teaching everyone about bugs!
For those unable to visit the Museum, SST online featured on-demand activities, digital tours and blogs, including features of our Lizard Island Research Station, and a ‘day in the life of’ blog from palaeontologist Dr Matthew McCurry.
A huge thank you to Alison Mellor and the Public Programs team, who brought this great Science Week celebration to life, and everyone who took part in SST, to make it such a special, engaging and fun event.
We’d like to express gratitude to Inspiring Australia for funding support as part of National Science Week, and our partners, University of New England, University of Technology Sydney, the Centenary Institute and ABC Radio Sydney for their support in promoting science to our community, their presence and insights were highly valued across Sydney Science Trail. A thank you also to our collaborators and staff who dedicated their time, energy and passion to these programs – you made this a wonderful week of science! Save the date for next year’s Sydney Science Trail, which will be held from 12 – 20 August 2023 .
Meagan Warwick, AMRI Project and Communications Officer, Australian Museum.
Alison Mellor, Creative Producer, Science Engagement and Events, Australian Museum.
Stay tuned for all Sydney Science Trail news on our website: https://australian.museum/learn/teachers/national-science-week/