Curious Kids Dive into Far Out Science 2019

By Dr Siobhan Dennison and Andrea Jaggi

1000 curious students, 62 inspiring facilitators, 34 primary and high schools, 27 energetic guides, 22 hands-on activities, over 20 amazing behind-the-scenes staff and two enormous days – that’s Far Out Science for 2019!

On Thursday 7th and Friday 8th November, students in years 5-10 from as far as Moree, Coonabarabran, Tenterfield, Coffs Harbour – and everywhere in between – descended on UNE for two days of hands-on, interactive science experiences. Academic and technical staff from across our schools of Environmental & Rural Science, Science & Technology, and Medicine & Health donated their time, expertise and passion to showcase some of the incredible research and facilities UNE has to offer, while inspiring students to delve into the world of science and explore, ask questions and try things they’ve never tried before!

Students measured pulses, burned elements and stretched slime; magnified insects, discovered new creatures, re-built T-Rex and sped through timing gates; exploded hydrogen balloons, analysed biomass, uncovered mystery substances and experimented with gastronomy; observed immune systems in action, engineered motors, extracted DNA and digested some poo (not the real stuff, we promise)!!

These were only some of the fantastic activities students were able to be a part of, learning through play, exploration, and uncovering scientific wonders – all on campus in Armidale.

Days like Far Out Science aim to not only inspire students to explore what science has to offer, but to show them just how much it permeates our lives. Scientists don’t all wear white coats and sit in a lab making colourful concoctions – they are the ones using drones and robots to make our farming practices more efficient; they are the ones working out how our brain can heal itself after trauma; they are the ones working to protect our vital ecosystems and native species. Science is more than just collecting data – it’s looking at the world around you in a critical way – thinking deeply and asking questions about what you see. There really is something for everybody!


Students from one school even contributed to a significant ecological find – during the MiniBeast Hunt, in which they were collecting insects for identification, they found a moth that was a little bit special…UNE Postdoctoral Fellow, Dr Manu Saunders, who ran the workshop, identified the moth as Tortricopsis uncinella – a species that, until last week, had never been documented north of Canberra! This find has now been shared on international databases used by researchers all over world, and contributes to our understanding of biodiversity and species distributions in Australia

This year was the 16th year that Far Out Science has been run – previous iterations have been known as Science in the Bush, Science Comes to Life, Science on the Road – and many others who have come before us have worked hard to build the event up to the incredibly popular institution it is today. It is a favourite in the school calendar, with many teachers contacting us months in advance (before we’ve even advertised!) to secure their spot. This highlights the demand and enthusiasm for science outreach in our community, and the role

We at UNE play in the educational space, before students even choose us for their tertiary studies. Many had not experienced a university setting before Far out Science, and providing students with the opportunity to explore what science can be beyond school helps them visualise the endless possibilities of a career in science, building aspiration and encouraging them to think beyond what they know.

We’re already getting requests for spots in next year’s program – so an enormous thank you to everyone who made the days possible, and the huge success they were – we can’t wait to do it all again with you next year