Category Archives: Awesomeness
On Thursday night, I attended the 2012 Western Australia Science Awards Gala Dinner where the top scientists, science educators and science communicators are recognised. I was lucky to receive an invitation from the WA Department of Commerce to attend as a science blogger and also as the President of the WA Branch of the Australian Science Communicators.
The dinner was held in the Astral Ballroom at Crown Perth and it was beautifully decorated. There was even a red carpet leading to the stage to walk on. It was clear from the onset that the science community of Western Australia was the star attraction.
And there was even a little jazz throughout the night.
To complete the celebratory occasion, there was also a WA Science Awards wall to stand in front of to have photos taken. It was quite possibly my most favourite discovery of the night. I delighted in the opportunity to be in front of it.
The MC of the events was Ruben Meerman, The Surfing Scientist. He was affable, funny, and knew his audience. There is talent in eliciting genuine laughter for science jokes from a room of scientists.
What I did like this year at the WA Science Awards was the emphasis on science engagement and science communication and that was where the awards of the night began.
I especially liked the comment made during the awarding of these awards, “What is the point of doing fantastic science if we tell no one about it?”. I have yet to hear strong arguments for staying silent about science. This is the stuff that can change lives. It rankles me when science news is left out of mainstream news unless there are centimetres to fill on a page of the newspaper or a sudden silence to fill on air. We can have nightly finance and sport news presented with aplomb, enthusiasm and jargon but we can’t have nightly science news but yet we tell ourselves that science is important for the future and we should encourage a new generation of scientists.
Engineers without Borders High School Outreach Program won the next award, Science Engagement Initiative of the Year. This program has been developed by the WA Chapter of Engineers without Borders. It aims to improve students’ understanding of climate change, sustainability and technology. In addition to this, the program is used as an assessment tool for university engineering students and allows working engineers to become involved and use it as a professional development opportunity. Any engineers reading this should really look this up and break the stereotype of the socially awkward engineer.
Western Australia’s Student Scientist of the Year went to UWA PhD student Mr David Erceg-Hurn whose research is evaluating strategies used to reduce stigma surrounding seeking professional help and treatment for clinical depression. He has also evaluated programs designed to reduce drug and alcohol misuse. The announcement of this award was beautifully and coincidentally timed with Australia’s national Mental Health Week.
Australian Research Fellow, UWA Associate Professor Ajmal Mian was awarded Early Career Scientist of the Year for his pioneering research on 3D face and object recognition for a wide range of multidisciplinary applications.
Professor Stephen Hopper AC FLS FTSE who recently served as the Director of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew was inducted into the Science Hall of Fame. Prof Hopper is a plant conservation biologist who has contributed significantly to preserving biodiversity in Western Australia as well as improving conservation programs and infrastructure within the state. He has also been named a Companion of Order of Australia for his service as a global science leader.
The Scientist of the Year award went to the Director for International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research, Professor Peter Quinn. Prof Quinn is an astrophysicist whose area of specialty is galaxy formation and dark matter. He does this using large astronomical facilities and supercomputers. In recent times, his efforts in developing WA’s radio astronomy capabilities have been central in the success of the Australian Square Kilometre Array Telescope campaign.
Unfortunately Prof Quinn had to be in Germany on the night of the WA Science Awards but he was able to Skype in his acceptance speech. It was such a lovely and warm touch to the evening.
It was a great night out celebrating the very best science in Western Australia. There is an incredible depth and breadth of scientific research happening in the state. In a state dominated by the mining industry, I noted that not one award was mining related. I am constantly stating that there is much more to science in Western Australia than mining technologies and the 2012 WA Science Awards has epitomised that this year.
For more photos of the gorgeous night, I have created an album on my Facebook page that is publicly available so no account needed.
I found your blog last month just as afternoon tea time hit. Someone on Twitter mentioned that a 9 year old girl was starting a blog about her school dinners. Having survived boarding school lunches and dinners, I decided to have a look. I laughed and fell in love with your blog and looked forward to reading your updates and your adventures.
This afternoon as I loaded up your blog hoping to see photos of what you and Nick Nairn had cooked up, I was reading a goodbye message instead. I didn’t understand what was going on or what newspaper had caused problems. I am sad that you feel that you can no longer update your blog. It does make things hard. I hope the rest of your day at school wasn’t ruined by such bad news.
Before you do disappear I would like you to know why I love NeverSeconds so much.
- You brought back so many memories from boarding school that I had forgotten and the food that I was served and had to choose from.
- I learned things from you and the people who shared their lunches with you. I grew up in Australia and I never knew those food trays that you get your school dinner on existed outside of American TV shows. There’s so many schools all over the world with them. I never knew that Coronation Chicken was a dish invented to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II becoming Queen.
- You did something that adults find difficult to do. You got kids talking about healthy food choices without mentioning eating disorders or exercise. It was just about eating healthy. That’s amazing and something that should be applauded.
- You have spoken to so many other children and adults about different cultures from many parts of the world and even had a few recipe swaps. Your blog became so much more than posts about your school dinners.
- And when you realised you were getting a lot of attention, (though now you’re getting so much more), you let us know of Mary’s Meals, a charity that raises money to feed children in the poorest nations at their place of learning. Then you went one step further and started to raise money for a kitchen for Mary’s Meals so that they could feed a new school. I know you were rather sad about your blog ending and not being able to finish raising funds for a kitchen. I’ve just checked the total, there is now enough funds for two kitchens.
VEG, I do hope that you don’t walk away from this project feeling so awful you that you don’t try similar projects in the future. I found your blog informative and fun to read. Your updates were something that I looked forward to. I didn’t mind if they weren’t posted by a particular time. Just knowing that there would be an update just kept me visiting to read. I think you are an amazing young person and if you choose to continue with NeverSeconds or start something new, I hope to find you again. I think you will do some incredibly fantastical things.
With Sincere Thanks for the Past Month,
PS. Good luck with the clarinet. I started learning to play when I was 13. Sometimes I put my clarinet together and just play after a long day working.
- Editor’s Choice: Government-backed school dinners menu proving to be real recipe for success (dailyrecord.co.uk)
- Let them eat cake, but no cameras: British council gags 9 year old school lunch blogger (thenextweb.com)
- Taiwan school lunches praised by young Scottish blogger (wantchinatimes.com)
- Grated and sliced everything: salad-based food memories (edinburghfoody.com)
- Meet the 9-Year-Old Food Blogger Who Took on School Lunch (healthland.time.com)
It’s been a while since I have blogged properly. I have been busy with work lately and organising myself to get back into science outreach again. Science outreach is something that is close to my heart because I think that there is immeasurable value for people to see scientists enthusiastic about their work and science. The job of showing the benefits of science is a task that has fallen largely to teachers, journalists and science shows and museums. They don’t do a bad job but it makes me wonder, “Where have all the scientists gone?”.
I have signed up for two volunteer science outreach programmes and will be based in Perth, Murdoch University’s STAR Peer Tutoring Programme and CSIRO’s Scientist in Schools Programme. They are flexible enough to fit in nicely with my FIFO roster which has been at times a barrier in getting involved with volunteer programmes. Dates of meetings or events aren’t quite right or the lack of flexibility for someone like me to come and go. It’s been frustrating and feel very lucky that something has been worked out.
Between the two programs I will be working with students in primary school and high school across different classes in two schools. One is in the southern suburbs of Perth and the other one in the northern suburbs. The exact details are yet to be ironed out as I am being flexible with the teaching teams in both of the schools. I’m looking forward to it because the teachers sound terrific. They’re even running things I’ve never heard of and one of the schools has a science fair!
I have never been involved in a school science fair. They just didn’t exist when I went through school. There were various science events outside of school but nothing that was part of school. And definitely nothing like a fair where everyone showed off their projects in a large gymnasium. To say that I am looking forward to the science fair would be putting it mildly. I have also been told by Twitter sources that some schools in Australia do have science fairs. Perhaps one day there will be enough to have a national science school fair.
I’m getting ahead of myself and dreaming. I’m looking forward to showing the students just some of the things that a science degree can lead to. I also want to show students that science isn’t something that happens in a laboratory or something that adults argue about. More importantly, I want to be able to demonstrate that science can be fun even when it isn’t being looked at by the Mythbusters team.