Science

Do you like snow and ice? Would you like to be in Antarctica and have it all around you? Or would you prefer to keep warm? Antarctica is a great place for preserving things. It’s one of Earth’s freezer compartments. We use our freezers in our houses and workplaces to preserve things until we are ready to use them....

March can sometimes be a little quieter for UNE Discovery, but there's one event always stands out – the Glen Innes Minerama! For a whole three days every year (pandemic permitting) hundreds of people gather on the Glen Innes showgrounds for the annual rock, gem, and craft show. UNE Discovery is privileged to be invited along to provide some expert assistance in the rock, mineral, and fossil ID department. ...

Fermentation is one of the oldest, but also a current popular nutritional trend, often mentioned in the same sentence with the words “gut health”. Fermented foods are occupying an increasing space in our supermarkets, but what does this term “fermentation” actually mean, and how can we engage in homemade fermentations and reap the benefits of this elemental process?...

When you go outside in the evening, what can you see in the sky? Some stars and the moon maybe. Do all the stars appear to twinkle? What are the ones that don’t twinkle? They are planets. How many planets can we see? At various times during the night we can see up to 5 planets - mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Any idea of how far we can see into the sky? With the naked eye the furthest star we can see is about 4000 light years away. How far away are the stars? The closest star to the Sun is 4.2 light years away, so we can see a lot of stars between 4.2 and 4000 light years. What is the Milky Way? The Milky Way is a collection of stars held together by gravity to form our Galaxy. The furthest star in the Milky Way are 1 million light years away. ...

Origami is known as the Japanese art of paper folding but it may have had its origins in China or Europe. The practice itself can be a joy and challenge for children and adults of all ages. Origami is all about neatly folding square sheets of paper and transforming the paper into amazing sculptures and models of various shapes and decorative designs. The word origami has its origins in Japan, ori meaning ‘to fold’ and kami means ‘paper’. ...

There’s the old saying ‘you’re never too old to learn’, and we all know it’s so very true. I love it when my daughter comes home from school and tells me about all the interesting and fun things she learnt that day. In fact, we swap stories and our casual chats inevitably end up with more questions than when we started. I often don’t know the answers so it gives us a great opportunity to do some more searching together (or ‘search it up’ as she would say).  With that in mind, she was telling me about earthquakes today. I had my own ‘wow’ moment! Each child in the class chose one of the world’s significant earthquakes for their own research project so I’m going to use this as my own “did you know?” info here based on what I learnt today. ...

On the 7th of August this year NSW went into lockdown again! It was just seven days prior to National Science Week, and many of us were holding our breath waiting to hear if we would be able to hold our long-awaited real-life events to celebrate FOOD as the theme of National Science Week in 2021. The calendar was peppered with events like an 8-course degustation menu at Tattersalls Hotel Armidale, a Science of Beer workshop, Markets in the Mall of Tasting Plates and a Science in the Club night. Of all of them, Science in the Club was the only one able to transfer to an online format, so we did gather online for a quiz night to remember!...

There is a curious little plant growing in my lawn. Whenever I brush against it, small capsules fly everywhere, either hitting me (gently) in the face or pinging off into the nearby grass. I suspect that when I touch the plant, it is explosively dispersing its seeds....

I really enjoy going outside in the evening to check out the wonderful night sky. Now is a perfect time to see three of the major planets in the night sky. Just after the sun sets in the West you’ll be able to see a bright object in the western sky about two handspans above the horizon. This is the planet Venus. It is quite bright and stands out. Venus is also known as the ‘evening star’ even though it isn’t a star. ...

Last month, the UNE Discovery team were pleased to have Sarah Adeney, opera soprano, and Chris Clark, Director, both from the New England Conservatorium of Music (NECOM) visit the Boilerhouse. NECOM hosted an Opera Australia event during that week and we were thrilled that Sarah could come and test out the acoustics in the Boilerhouse stack (the very tall chimney of the Boilerhouse that you can see for miles). Can we just say . . . . WOW!!!! The small crowd we had in attendance were blown away by Sarah’s beautiful voice and the amazing sound that was achieved while Sarah was singing in the stack....

As summer progresses, I have found many dead cicadas around our property. Most of these will become food for other animals, and contribute to nutrient cycling. I have managed to salvage a few and, with my niece, we have carefully pinned and preserved some beautiful specimens for our insect collections. ...

Some parts of Australia have seen a lot of hail falling this spring, and some of the pieces have been big enough to cause some damage. But how do these big hailstones form? ...

I have been doing a lot of garden watching of late, particularly in the cool Armidale mornings. I find it very soothing to sit at the edge of the vegie patch, with a cup of hot tea, watching and listening to the invertebrate critters as they scurry about in the mulch....

You may have seen a creatively named challenge making its way through the ether lately. So, what’s it all about? The 2020 Soil Your Undies Challenge is a collaboration between Dr Oliver Knox, CottonInfo, UNE SMART Farms and UNE Discovery. The original concept of ‘Soil Your Undies’ is a fun and engaging citizen science project, conceived and established by the University of New England (UNE)’s Dr Oliver Knox and CottonInfo. It aims to increase awareness and understanding of soil health, exploring soil health concepts in a novel and fun way, and encouraging participants to share their experiences....

I recently caught up with Dr Jean Holley, exploring the idea that there’s nothing like a hands-on experience for deepening our understanding and appreciation of all things science. Dr Jean Holley is an entomologist and insect ecologist. She is also UNE Discovery Voyager’s Schools Liaison and Booking Officer, as well as a developer and facilitator of several of our activities, including Plants, Poop and Pollinators and Busybots. During her undergraduate years Jean undertook a major in Zoology before completing her Bachelor of Science (Honours). Her PhD focused on insect behaviour. ...

Northern NSW, and specifically the New England area of NSW, is fortunate to have the amazing facility that is Thalgarrah Environmental Education Centre located on Rockvale Road, about 18km north-east of the Armidale CBD. Thalgarrah is a Department of Education school that serves a large area, stretching from the upper Hunter to the Queensland border and from the coast to as far west as Bourke. ...

Have you ever wondered what scientists do after they have finished an experiment? How do they communicate their data and the conclusions they have made to other scientists around the world? One of the most important ways that data and ideas can be shared is by peer reviewed publication in scientific journals. But what does that mean? How do you publish in a scientific journal, and what is peer review?...

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!...

The final Science in the Club night was an extravagnaza of palaeo entertainment, the science of reeeaaallly old things (including invertebrates, dinosaurs and small shelly fossils!), and a celebration of FOUR years of Science in the Club in Armidale! Held on Wednesday the 30th of October at the Wicklow Hotel, the event was timed so that Professor Flint (aka Michael Mills) could host the evening, and his colleagues, taking us on a journey of our own identity. In his words:...

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