Sparks expected to fly at Science in the Bush on Friday

Published 25 August 2003

Sparks are expected to fly at the Science in the Bush science festival at Southern Cross University's Lismore campus this Friday, August 29, as an extension of National Science Week activities.

Students will be able to see an explosive science show, study the stars, attend talks on such hot science topics such as a 'sex on the reef', genetic foods and animal champions, as well as take part in hands-on workshops including using a soldering iron to make an electronic circuit.

SCU's School of Environmental Science and Management is hosting the day in conjunction with the Australian Museum. The Lismore science festival is one of only three Science in the Bush festivals being held in regional NSW: the other two are in Tamworth and Armidale, said SCU event organiser Max Egan.

"This is the first Science in the Bush program that we've had, so it's going to be really exciting for the kids to see hands-on displays and get involved in science," Mr Egan said.

About 350 students in Years 9-12, mainly from the Northern Rivers but as far south as Coffs Harbour and as far north as the Gold Coast, are expected to attend the Lismore event.

The SCU science festival includes:

'Big Science' science shows presented by Steve Ford from the Australian Museum, including experiments and giant props related to flying, energy, electricity and fuels;

Starlab Planetarium, which will give students a guided tour of the stars projected onto the domed roof of a specially-made tunnel tent;

Talks on:

1) Animal Champions, by Steve Ford, Australian Museum, looking at the amazing athletic feats and biomechanics of humans versus other animals;

2) 2003 Australian Young Scientist of the Year and winner of two sections in the Intel International Science competition, Estelle Webber, 16, from Chillingham in northern NSW, who will speak about her achievements involving work she carried out with SCU researchers;

3) Frankenfoods: fish genes in your french fries, by SCU Associate Professor Slade Lee, from SCU's Centre for Plant Conservation Genetics. He will talk about whether genetically-modified food can harm you and the environment;

4) Sex on the Reef by SCU Associate Professor Peter Harrison, from SCU's School of Environmental Science and Management. He will talk about the most spectacular underwater 'sex' display on the planet involving mass coral spawning on the Great Barrier Reef;

5) So you want to be a scientist? by David Lloyd, from SCU's School of Environmental Science and Management, who has worked for such organisations as the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and the ABC Natural History Unit. He will talk about pursuing a career in science.

Interactive workshops:

1) MadLab hands-on electronic workshop, led by Lismore TAFE lecturers, giving students the opportunity to use a soldering iron and create a working electronic circuit, as well as test out either a Lie Detector test, electronic bagpipes or a light-activated alarm;

2) Is dilution the solution to pollution? workshop on drinking water including monitoring the toxicity of chemicals in water, led by Murray Cullen, a lecturer in SCU's School of Environmental Science and Management;

3) How Now Mad Cow, run by NSW Agriculture, Wollongbar. It will demonstrate the diagnosis of mad cow disease, which is one of a group of brain diseases of animals and people caused by infectious protein particles (prions);

4) Who done it? Forensic science project giving students hands-on experience in using forensic science to solve a crime, led by Professor Don Gartside, Head of SCU's School of Environmental Science and Management.

There will also be a presentation on the uses of the Scanning Electron Microscope, by Maxine Dawes, from SCU's School of Environmental Science and Management.

Science Week Science in the Bush is sponsored by the NSW State Coordination Committee for National Science Week, the Australian Museum Sydney and the NSW Department of Education.

The program is also on the Science in the Bush website at

Media: for more information contact Sara Crowe or Kath Duncan, SCU Media Liaison, Ph: 02 6620 3144 or M: 0439 858 057.