Regional Hubs to bring science and technology to life in NSW communities

3 May 2016

Communities across New South Wales will get the chance to participate in an exciting range of science, technology and innovation outreach initiatives to be delivered by Inspiring Australia’s network of Regional Science Hubs.

Inspiring Australia has awarded more than $80,000 in grants to nine Hubs to engage communities in regional and rural New South Wales in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through a series of festivals, workshops, theatrical performances, citizen science projects and more.

NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer, Professor Mary O’Kane, said the Hubs are helping raise awareness of the relevance of STEM to our everyday lives.

“The passionate leaders of our Science Hubs are hosting activities and events in regional and rural New South Wales to inspire and excite our young people and their families about the wonders of science, technology, engineering and maths,” Professor O’Kane said.

“The exceptional work the Hubs are doing at a grassroots level will most certainly encourage more young people to study STEM subjects in senior school and at university, and open their eyes to diverse career pathways.

“We must do more to instill in our young people a love of science, and particularly mathematics – not only for their sakes but for the sake of the nation,” she said.

There is a raft of inspirational and informative events planned by Hubs statewide, including:
* Coding, robotics and 3D printing in Cowra, in central-western New South Wales
* A virtual dinosaur exhibition in the Australian Botanical Garden at Mt Annan, in Sydney’s south west
* Medieval trench digging at Bundanon Trust near Nowra, in the Shoalhaven
* A theatrical re-creation of local hero, the 19th century chemist Courtney Puckey in Wollongong

For more information about Inspiring Australia’s network of NSW Regional Science Hubs, visit

2016 Funded Projects

CODERANGERS, MODFab, and BIG Ideas for BIG Careers Cowra Cabonne Science Hub - Lead organisation: the CORRIDOR project

A series of workshops designed for the local community between urban and regional science professionals, and school teachers, students, regional professionals, and the local community. Learn to code, build robots, 3D print and design, and hear about a range of STEM careers.

Science in the Swamp and Astronomy Night Eastern Sydney Science Hub - Lead organisation: Centennial Parklands

Sydney Science Festival’s biggest free public event held during National Science Week, a free family day of varied science demos, experiments, games, food, stalls and hands on opportunities, and stargazing after dark.

Hunter Science Festival Hunter Science Hub - Lead organisation: University of Newcastle

The annual Hunter Science Festival is back with a suite of fun, educational talks, live demonstrations, and stall displays at the Hunter Valley Electric Vehicle Festival. Join the Geological Society of NSW for their popular Time Walk, a tour of Newcastle’s Nobby Head to the Bogey Hole, a heritage-listed sea bath, and learn about the history of the coastline. The Hunter Medical Research Institute will also present a medical research tour and seminar.

The Ghost of Courtney Puckey, Salt Maker Extraordinaire Project Illawarra Science Hub - Lead organisation: Wollongong Botanic Garden

Celebrating the life of local hero, chemist and salt maker Courtney Puckey, the Wollongong Botanic Garden presents a series of theatrical presentations at Puckey’s Estate, now an annex of the gardens. Participate in the construction of a working model of Puckey’s salt making tower, and explore the science of salt making and extraction.

Jurassic Gardens Macarthur Science Hub - Lead organisation: Australian Botanic Gardens

Take a step back in time with Jurassic Gardens, and learn all about what Australia was like when it was part of the supercontinent, Gondwana. The Australian Botanic Gardens boasts a garden of beautiful Gondwanan plants, from the famous Wollemi Pine, to modern Australia’s arid-adapted plants, like the Eucalpts and wattles. In a fun twist, the Gardens will be brought to life with a 3D virtual reality smartphone/tablet app, featuring extinct animals and dinosaurs that would have once lived among these trees!

Go Wild in the Garden Murray Science Hub - Lead organisation: Murray Arts

Join a team of ecologists and an internationally renowned sculpture artist to uncover the wild pollinators in your garden. Participate in the ongoing citizen science project Wild Pollinator Count, and take home your very own ‘Pollinator Inn’ to encourage growth in your local ecosystem.

Far Out Science Community Film Festival, Woodland Week, and Eco-Artist-in-Residence and Community Science Forum New England North West Science Hub - Lead organisation: University of New England

A series of events including a short film festival, Woodland Week, dedicated to the local bioregion, and a Community Science Forum with scientists and researchers from a local conference program.

Bundanon: The Medieval Shoalhaven Science Hub - Lead organisation: Bundanon Trust

2016 marks the 150th anniversary of the Bundanon homestead, and to celebrate, the Illawarra Science Hub plans to celebrate by exploring the relationship between what has passed and what remains at its annual Siteworks festival. Bringing together art and science, Bundanon: The Medieval will bring together teams of earth scientists and artists to investigate the Medieval Climatic Anomaly using palaeohydrology.

Penrith South Public School Science Fair Western Sydney Science Hub - Lead organisation: Penrith South Public School

Penrith South Public School will bring everyday science to the fore, with over 20 STEM-inspired activities planned, including preparing and planting a vegetable garden, kite-making, racing balloon-powered boats, and designing, building and testing the homes of the Three Little Pigs.

About Inspiring Australia

The Inspiring Australia initiative – jointly funded by the NSW and Commonwealth Governments – builds collaboration to foster public participation in science, technology and innovation. For four years, Inspiring Australia has been at the helm of a national effort to change public attitudes to science, technology and innovation.

The initiative, now part of the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda, works on many levels to strengthening relationships between STEM stakeholders to achieve greater impact.

Among its programs are National Science Week, The Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science and a growing network of Regional Science Hubs, regional partnerships that bring hundreds of STEM-interested organisations together to collaborate with scientists and develop new initiatives.