For more than 25 years, National Science Week has inspired millions of Australians to learn about science and its role in our lives. Now led by Questacon with support from Inspiring Australia, the week is a community-based festival of events and activities to celebrate science and technology. The week is recognised across Australia and online every August to give people from all walks of life an opportunity to spark their interest in science.
In the year leading up to the event, Questacon orchestrates a huge collaborative effort behind the scenes to coordinate thousands of people, schools, universities, science centres, libraries, museums, research institutions and businesses, to help them deliver events. Aside from this planning, the festival is made possible by many selfless contributions from volunteer state committees, event hosts and individual scientists, and support from the Australian Government.
So why go to all this effort? National Science Week seeks to inspire the next generation of scientists no matter where they are across Australia. Engaging new minds in science and technology is essential to ensuring a future generation of thinkers that will help solve our world’s biggest challenges and improve our lives into the future.
If the numbers are anything to go by, it’s clear that National Science Week is meeting its goals of making science more accessible. Data collected after this year’s National Science Week showed that for the 2023 event:
1 in 4 people were aware of National Science Week – which continues an upward trend in awareness over the years
1,862 events were registered and events were held in every federal electorate
2.7 million people joined in the celebrations across the country, including around 1.4 million adults and 1.3 million children aged between 5 and 17 – a huge increase from last year’s record-breaking attendance of 1.9 million people
More than half of attendees consider themselves ‘not highly engaged in science’ – proof that making science engaging, accessible and fun is vital to inspiring the next generation of thinkers
Some of Australia’s leading scientists are just as inspired by National Science Week, including Australia’s Chief Scientist, Dr Cathy Foley, who says “National Science Week is a wonderful grassroots festival of inspiration and discovery…a fantastic opportunity to experience what is possible when you ignite your passion for science.”
As Dr Foley, says “it’s amazing what science can do and I’m always amazed by how scientific discoveries build on each other and lead to unexpected outcomes. It is a process driven by curiosity. It allows us to look beneath the surface to see how things work, and it is a process that is fundamental to Australia’s future, but to make the most of the opportunities ahead, we need curious and eager young people ready to engage with STEM subjects at school. And in doing so, develop the lifelong passion, as I have, for questioning, measuring and testing ideas that address complex problems.”
Having delivered the 2023 National Science Week in August, and completed its review, Questacon is now planning the 2024 event. It’s already busy coordinating promotion, events and supporting National Science Week partners, organisations and volunteers with the aim of spreading the science spark even wider next year.
You can find out how to get involved in the next National Science Week by visiting www.scienceweek.net.au.