National Science Week 12-20 August 2017

Interesting resources for National Science Week 12-20 August…..


National Science Week 12-20 August

Lots of events around the country.


Australia’s biggest smartphone survey

Part of Science Week. It’s been 30 years since the first mobile call was made in Australia and 84% of us now own a smartphone, changing handsets every 3 years. We are the 4th biggest nation of smartphone users, using our phones around 30 times a day. How are smartphones changing our lives? Are they affecting our relationships? Can we live without them?


Wellcome Image Awards 2017

“Informative, striking and technically excellent images that communicate significant aspects of healthcare and biomedical science”.

Nature journal – best science images 2016:

Livescience – 100 best science images 2016:


Australia’s Science Channel

Excellent information – news, articles, videos, podcasts and events. Topics: Culture; Innovate & tech; Our planet; Scinema (science films); Space; The body; Thought leaders; Careers.


CSIRO blog

Lots of interesting news and information about research projects. Includes: Rise of the intelligent machines; Is Usain Bolt the greatest athlete ever? Do we trust robo-advice?


Best and worst science news sites

The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) supports evidence-based science and medicine and derides the ‘outrageous sensationalism’ often found in science journalism. Their interesting infographic ranks well-known science reporting sources on ‘fundamental trustworthiness’ and how ‘compelling’ they are as sources of information. The 2 best sources are the journals Nature and Science. Other top-rated journals: New Scientist, Live Science, The Economist, Smithsonian, National Geographic, The Atlantic. Lower ratings: Scientific American, Science News, Popular Science, New York Times, Huffington Post, Fox News.


Latest science news

Live Science:

ABC Science(includes Dr Karl):

Science Daily:

BBC Science & Environment:

Science News:


PLOS One and Scientific Reports open access journals

PLOS One is a peer-reviewed online open access science journal published since 2006 by the Public Library of Science, and formerly the world’s largest journal. In 2017, open access online journal Scientific Reports became the world’s largest journal – published by Nature Publishing Group. Thousands of articles are freely available from both journals.


ABC Splash science resources

Good resources added continually. Digibooks, videos, audio, games, articles, links… Filter for primary and secondary resources.!/resources/-/science


ABC Splash science games!/resources/-/science/all/interactive


ICT and STEM news

STEM learning

Special edition of STEM articles from Teacher magazine. Includes virtual classrooms for Year 10s, STEM and gender and best practice for primary STEM.

Demystifying the AC Digital Technologies Curriculum P-6

Webinar with Dr Linda McIver; 19 June and 31 July 3.45-5pm.

STEM learning: international best practice: Queensland science teacher Sarah Chapman gathered evidence from around the world. Essential elements include real world experiences, expertise from industry links, mentorships and cross-curricular integration.

Full report:


Australian Online Landscape Review (latest: April 2017)

Quarterly report produced by IAB/Nielsen. Top 10 brands: 1.Google 2.Facebook 3.YouTube 4.MSN/Outlook/Bing/Skype 5.Apple 6.eBay 7.Microsoft 8.Wikipedia 9.Instagram 10.Yahoo7.

Top 10 brands for streaming: 1.YouTube 2.Facebook 3.VEVO (music) 4.Vimeo (videos) 7.MSN/Outlook/Bing/Skype 9.Yahoo7 10. ABC Online

Smartphones are used more than desktops, which are used more than tablets.



Australians’ viewing habits

There are more screens (6.4 in each home) and most are internet-capable. Viewing is spread across devices but TV remains by far the most-watched screen. 86% of video viewing is on TVs – free-to-air or subscription; live or played back. TVs are also used for other tasks – gaming, DVDs, internet, music streaming, YouTube videos etc


Australia’s internet speeds

According to the most recent Akamai State of the Internet report we are now 51st in the world for home broadband internet speeds (10.1 Mbps). However, we are well above the global average of 7 Mbps even with a large area to cover. Fastest is South Korea (26.1Mbps) 2. Norway 3. Sweden 4.Hong Kong 5.Switzerland. We are leading the Asia-Pacific region in mobile connectivity speeds (13.8 Mbps).


Why do adults think video games are bad?

The excellent news site The Conversation is running a series for children – Curious Kids, where children send in questions they would like an expert to answer. Recent research suggests that playing online games that involve puzzle-solving increases scores in maths, science and reading, whereas using social networking reduces academic achievement.


The science for and against video gaming

They can make your brain grow and they make you more self-aware and happier; but they can make you less empathetic and more violent.


People could be genetically predisposed to social media use

One to two-thirds of variance in social media use is attributable to genetic traits; unique and shared environmental factors account for the remainder of variance.



“A classroom with the ultimate view” – students enrol in missions on the International Space Station and request images of specific locations on Earth. The program was set up by astronaut Sally Ride in  1995, initially on space shuttle flights. 8000 schools from 78 countries have now participated with over 500 000 students creating a library of 94 000 images.

Search the image gallery:


Google Maps street-view of Uluru

Just launched after 2 years of consultation with traditional owners. The interactive map includes audio stories from the Anangu owners about the significance of Uluru, traditional law and creation stories. Many sacred sections of the rock were not photographed. Viewers can zoom into crevices, walk along trails and view ancient art. Google plans to map other Australian cultural sites, including Kakadu.


Live interactions with robots increase their perceived human likeness

We need to get used to a future where robots will be part of our everyday lives, but rarely do we see robots face to face. A recent study found that people who watched live interactions with a robot were more likely to consider the robot to have more human-like qualities. Robots presented in virtual reality also scored high in human likeness. Watching a robot on a 2D screen scored lowest. “Many people will have their first encounter with a service robot over the next decade. Service robots are designed to communicate with humans in humanlike ways and assist them in various aspects of their daily routine. Potential areas of application range from hospitals and nursing homes to hotels and the users’ households” (Schreiner).


The 2017 emoji list: emoji version 5.0

All those cute little emoji have to be approved by the Unicode consortium and will be launched this month. There are 69 new images; 24 have 5 additional skin tones and 10 are non-gendered. New emoji include a genie, an older person, a breastfeeding mum and broccoli. There are now a total of 239 approved emoji.

NASA releases 8,000+ high-res images from the Apollo Program

“The Apollo missions are NASA’s gift that just keeps on giving. America’s civilian space agency just released a veritable treasure trove of high resolution scanned images from the Apollo archives, many of which have never been seen before.

To view the entire collection in neatly-sorted albums, visit NASA’s Project Apollo Archive on Flickr.”


National Science Week, makerspaces and coding

Since it’s National Science Week 15-23 August, have a look at the RiAus website – “Australia’s national science channel, promoting public awareness and understanding of science”. Always something interesting and “accessible for all Australians”. Includes videos, articles, links, blog, In Class livestreaming sessions (eg. astronaut Chris Hadfield and Prof. Brian Cox), science/art  exhibitions.  Includes free guides to uni courses and careers – Ultimate science guide and Ultimate engineering guide.

A week in science – short video newsfeed each week. Great stuff eg. The secret life of apples; Science fiction prediction; Waking up before your alarm:



Webby Awards 2015 – Science

Winner: If the moon were only 1 pixel: a tediously accurate scale model of the solar system.

People’s Voice: BBC Earth. Shortlist: Global climate change: vital signs of the planet; WIRED Science; Interactive history on the origins of HIV.


Top 15 most popular science websites (Aug 2015)

Based on Alexa Global Traffic Rank. 1. HowStuffWorks 2. NASA 3. Discovery 4. LiveScience 5. ScienceDaily 6. ScienceDirect 7. Space 8. Scientific American 9. Nature 10. PopSci


Makerspace ideas


Orbotix Ollie – racing, spinning and flipping robot controlled from an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch – $150


Orbotix Sphero – robotic ball controlled from an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch – $200


Parrot MiniDrone Rolling Spider – ultra compact drone controlled from a smartphone – $150


Parrot MiniDrone Jumping Sumo – a responsive bot which jumps, rolls, zig-zags, circles and takes turns at 90° – $240. Parrot have a new range of camera-enabled mini-drones coming soon.


Lego robotics – object oriented programming – $500 per kit


Raspberry Pi – mini programmable computer board – $60


Makerspaces and coding in schools

3 interesting articles from the current edition of principals’ journal Education Today:


“Lauriston FabLab is transformative” 2015, Education Today, Term 3.

*Established one of the first FabLabs in Australia in 2014

*FabLab@School program from Stanford University – focus on transformative learning

*Many cross-curricular opportunities – house design; model of an eye, art, history

*3D printer, 3D mill, laser cutter, programming and more traditional tools

*Skills of problem-solving, self direction and collaboration – very relevant to workplace skills


“ScopeIT education” 2015, Education Today, Term 3.

*Scope IT Education – provides courses, instructors, lesson plans, assessment, Macbooks, equipment, internet, weekly 40 min. lessons for 10 weeks (NSW Stages 1-3 – primary school)

*Teaches coding (Scratch, WordPress, HTML, Javascript, Python, iOS apps), 3D printing, electronics, robotics, digital citizenship

*Entered into partnership with Aust. Primary Principals Association


“Coding in schools building up a head of steam” 2015, Education Today, Term 3.

  • Importance of coding as a component of STEAM teaching– Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Maths
  • #WeSpeakCode Microsoft conference at UTS in Sydney in May 2015 – 7000 students had to create a flappy bird game
  • Microsoft Asia Pacific study – only 32% of Australian students had an opportunity to learn coding in school (lowest figure for all countries surveyed)
  • Two-thirds of Australian students said they wanted to know more about coding
  • By 2022 a deficit of 12-15 million jobs in STEM fields
  • Kodu – games programming for kids; free download
  • Blockley – by Google; educational games that teach programming
  • Grok Learning – coding courses (and competitions) for high school students
  • – many courses for different ages and levels


Good films

Some good films – excellent for sci-fi, physics, sociology, psychology, history and just for fun…



Currently screening. Directed by Christopher Nolan (Inception, Batman, The Prestige). Stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine. A team of explorers and scientists leave a resource-depleted Earth and travel through a wormhole in search of a new habitable planet. Physicist Kip Thorne, an expert in Einstein’s general theory of relativity, was the scientific consultant and executive producer, ensuring that depictions of wormholes and relativity were as accurate as possible. Computer effects artists based the visual effects on Thorne’s equations and their work provided Thorne with new insight into black holes that will lead to 2 scientific papers (one in astrophysics; one in computer graphics). Music score by Hans Zimmer.

4 and a half stars from David and 3 from Margaret. David: “…a tremendously exciting space adventure …and also a rich and thoughtful meditation on time and space and gravity”.

“Brainy, barmy and beautiful to behold … a mind-bending opera of space and time with a soul wrapped up in all the science” (James Dyer – Empire mag).


The imitation game

Directed by Morten Tyldum. Stars Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley. Adapted from the novel Alan Turing: the enigma by Andrew Hodges. Based on the true story of English mathematician, logician and computer scientist Alan Turing and his brilliant team of code-breakers at Bletchley Park, who helped crack the German Enigma code during WW2. As well as being a espionage thriller, the film follows  Turing’s life from school until his untimely death and how he was forced to hide his homosexuality. Opens 1 Jan 2015.

Viewers are impressed, especially with Cumberbatch – an Oscar-worthy film:


Turing is credited as being the inventor of the digital computer, his body of work helped form the basis for artificial intelligence and he made major contributions to cognitive science, artificial life and mathematics. Turing’s story is tragic – in 1952 he was arrested and tried for homosexuality, which was then a criminal offence, and lost his security clearance. He was sentenced to 12 months of hormone “therapy” to “treat” his homosexuality and died in 1954, probably by suicide. Prime Minister Gordon Brown officially apologised in 2009 and Queen Elizabeth issued a formal pardon in 2013. The government however, will not provide posthumous pardons for the other 49 000 men also sentenced under the law.


Particle fever

Directed by Mark Levinson, the documentary was shot over 7 years. It follows the inside story of 6 physicists at the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland and their discovery of the elusive Higgs boson –  the last undetected particle predicted by the Big Bang Theory. Reviewers have praised the film for making theoretical arguments comprehensible and for making scientific experiments thrilling – and for making particle physicists seem human! Women physicists also feature strongly. Opens 27 Nov 2014. 5 stars from the NY Times:


The 100 best sci-fi movies

An excellent site – chosen by sci-fi experts, filmmakers, sci-fi writers, film critics and scientists. Includes a summary, best quote, big idea and trailer for each film, with comments from the experts and other contributors. Good site for a class discussion on the top 10 etc Here’s some from the top 10 – Blade runner, Brazil, Metropolis, 2001, The terminator, Alien,  Star wars. Maybe you can guess #1? But Iron Man at #70?!

Quick list:


Superhero comic book movies from now till 2019!

Superhero films with many crossover characters will fill cinemas over the next 5 years. Marvel/Disney has announced 9 movies and Warner/DC Comics has announced 10 interlinked superhero films. Get ready for Captain America 3, Ant-Man, Dr Strange, Thor 3, Black Panther, The Avengers 3, Batman vs Superman, Wonder Woman, The Flash..…Includes Inhumans  – descendants of prehistoric genetic experiments who have lived apart from humans ever since using their own advanced technologies. Warner Bros also announced 3 Lego movies and 3 Harry Potter spinoffs – based on J.K. Rowling’s novella Fantastic beasts and where to find them. She is also writing the screenplays. Who will knock The Avengers and The Dark Knight from the top of the superhero box office charts?

National Science Week 16-24 August

As well as Book Week, it’s also National Science Week (16-24 Aug):

Here are some interesting links….


Women of science wikibomb

Great to see this event as part of National Science Week in Canberra. Participants researched and wrote Wikipedia articles about Australian women of science, engineering and maths. Awesome work – over 100 Wikipedia entries were created – now that really adds to the authenticity and reliability of Wikipedia!


Science 360

Breaking science videos and news from around the world, ready to embed in websites etc. Hosted by the US National Science Foundation. Search for videos by topic or series.



Thousands of videos and lectures; explore by topics.


10 science YouTube channels you can’t miss

Includes Minute Physics; The Science Channel; SciShow; The Periodic Table of Videos, AsapSCIENCE and the excellent Vsauce.


125 great science videos

Astronomy, physics, psychology, biology, ecology, technology….


Stephen Hawking biopic: The theory of everything

Directed by James Marsh. Stars Eddie Redmayne (from Les Mis) as renowned physicist Hawking, author of A brief history of time. The film follows his life through university and his triumphs in the face of physical adversity. Opens in Australia early 2015.


Hawking is a legend – look at all the places he has appeared in popular culture:


International Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge

Science magazine and the US National Science Foundation select winners each year for illustration, posters & graphics, photography, games & apps  and video. First place in games: Eyewire – one of the fastest growing citizen science projects ever created, where game players help to map neurons in a mouse’s retina. Also: EarthViewer app – scroll through billions of years of Earth’s geological periods. Meta!Blast: The Leaf game, for high school – players explore the microworlds of a leaf.

Slideshow of winners:


Eureka Prize for Science Photography

3 finalists and 7 highly commended entries; winner announced 10 Sept. Love the photo on a starry moonlit night of part of the Murchison Widefield Array radio telescope in W.A., which will be part of the largest telescope ever built (the Square Kilometre Array: SKA).


Sleek Geeks Eureka Science Schools Prize 2014

Short science videos – primary and secondary finalists; winners announced 10 Sept. View other years’ finalists also. Lots of interesting science – eg. I want to make tea – a musical parody, sung to Queen’s I want to break free 🙂

2014 finalists:


Free iBooks textbook: Life on Earth by Edward O. Wilson

Biology for secondary schools; 41 interactive chapters with video and animations, written by the Harvard naturalist and Pulitzer Prize winner, collaborating with the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. Accompanied by an iTunes U course.


Professor Manning Clark and donor-conceived granddaughter

Fascinating story of Dr Lauren Burns and her quest to find out about her biological father (Aust. Story Aug 10 & 18). Good resource for discussion of medical ethics and legal issues.



Walter and Eliza Hall Institute

The oldest medical research institute in Australia – 100 years old in 2015.

WEHI.TV: Video clips of discoveries and research:

Virus one billion times: Projected animations of viruses magnified one billion times – in the State Library of Victoria’s reading room earlier this year:


Science is awesome!

Films for action

Some excellent documentaries and films for senior students of global studies, sociology, geography, sustainability, human rights…..

Films for Action

“Discover, watch and share over 3000 of the best social change videos online – a community powered learning library and alternative news center for people who want to change the world”. Includes documentaries, videos, short films, presentations, trailers and articles.

Search for films via subjects and countries eg. corporations, big ideas, human rights, social issues, climate change; war and peace, culture, consumerism; globalization; cities; animal rights; vision; technology and design.

Includes films such as Inside job; War made easy; Consuming kids; Capitalism: a love story; WikiRebels; Flow: for love of water; The internet must go; Chasing ice; Plastic planet; The superior human?; Schooling the world: The cove; Exit through the gift shop.

View titles via the visual Wall of Films:
View the Top 100 Documentaries:
Also includes featured articles:

Vsauce and Veritasium – science coolness

The inaugural YouTube FanFest is on in Sydney on 31 May. It includes comedic bloggers Jenna Marbles and Ryan Higa, beauty experts Bethany Mota and Chloe Morello and science sensations Vsauce and Veritasium (see below).

Vsauce: our world is amazing

Vsauce comprises a number of YouTube channels created by Michael Stevens. The channels produce videos about scientific topics,  technology, culture, gaming and topics of general interest. The main Vsauce channel is hosted by Michael Stevens and presents philosophical and scientific questions about humans and the universe.

Topics include: Is anything real? Will we ever run out of new music ? What if everyone jumped at once? How big can a human get? Should you eat yourself? What colour is a mirror? Why do we clap? What is the greatest honour? Where do deleted files go? How many photos have been taken? We are all related. And even – A defence of Comic Sans 🙂

Stevens has stated he researches academic papers and Wikipedia to find information for his videos. Vsauce won a 2014 Webby People’s Voice Award for Best News and Information. Stevens loves playlists – he even states that “curation is the future”!


All the Vsauce videos:


Vsauce2: people are amazing

Unusual knowledge and technology, inventions, BiDiPi (Build it, Draw it, Play it – maker culture) creations, riddles….


Vsauce3: fictional worlds are amazing

Includes video games, interesting websites, new apps…


Wesauce: the best videos from the Vsauce community



Educational YouTube science channel created by Derek Muller in 2011. Videos include science experiments & cool demos, dramatisations, interviews with experts, songs and discussions with people to uncover misconceptions about science. Try these:

Will this go faster than light?:

Can silence actually drive you crazy?

World’s roundest object:

All the videos:

Webby Award winners – the best of the web

Some good resources for media, art, photography, graphic design, popular culture, business studies, social sciences….

The 18th Annual Webby Awards
The Oscars of the online world have now been announced – chosen by the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Categories include web, online film & video, interactive advertising & media, mobile & apps and social. A Lifetime Achievement Award was given to Lawrence Lessig, co-founder of Creative Commons and staunch advocate of the open, collaborative web.
All the winners & nominees:

Winners include:
Education: Coursera
Health: WebMD
Science: Nautilus
Cultural institutions: The Second World War in 100 objects
Social media: Vine (create and share beautiful looping videos)
Social media campaign: The Melbourne remote control tourist (yay Australia!)
Public service and activism: The internet must go (John Wooley)
Experimental and innovation: D-Day: as it happens
Art: Artsy
Travel: Airbnb
Best online commercial: The epic split (Jean-Claude van Damme and the Volvo trucks)
Best use of video: The Serengeti lion (National Geographic)
Best photography and graphics: GoPro
Best use of photography: Graffiti General
Best use of animation: The art of noise
Best user experience: Medium (everyone’s stories and ideas)
Reality: Google+ same sex marriage

Wow….gazillions of resources on the interwebs….and we’ve had access for maybe 18 or so years in schools. Remember the days before the web…where to next?

How many things live on Earth?


RiAus is Australia’s national science hub, promoting public awareness and understanding of science. Their email newsletter always has interesting user-friendly updates in the world of science:


“In 2011 the human population surpassed 7 billion people, but how does that compare to other animal species?

The combined population of our home planet is almost impossible to quantify. While the human population is in the billions, bacterial species measure in the quadrillion quadrillions!”

3 minute video:

Global Populations

RiAus have included some useful links:

Current World Population – Statistics from Worldometer

Population Fact Sheets – Fact sheets by United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs

How many people have ever lived on Earth – Article from the Population Reference Bureau

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species – Lists from International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources

Endangered Species Population Number –

Farm Animal Populations Continue to Grow – Article from World Watch Institute


The science of Doctor Who

RiAUS are also presenting this fun & interactive stage show (BYOD) around Australia from April to June 2014. Investigate time travel and teleportation, discover how the Tardis can be bigger on the inside and find out if regeneration is really possible.

The universes of Doctor Who: