Fun characters from National Science Week. A girl wearing a VR headset reaches up to pat a virtual dinosaur. A boy with a space helmet pointing to a shooting star. And a woman engineer puts together a robot. A girls with binoculars looking for birds. A young man holding a tablet across his chest with an xray of his skeleton and heart. A guy in a wheelchair blowing bubbles.

From deadly science to a multisensory book exhibition. From a national quantum and dark matter road trip to a national science quiz. This is a small glimpse into the exciting program for National Science Week 2023

With over 1,700 in-person and online events, Australia’s annual celebration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) has something for everyone. 

National Science Week is a big part of the Australian Government’s approach to science engagement and inspiring Australians to pursue a career in STEM. 

In launching National Science Week 2023 at Parliament House, Minister for Industry and Science Ed Husic stressed the importance of STEM for Australia’s future.  

‘National Science Week has been shining a light on the world of science, technology, and innovation since 1997. From those early years, it has grown to over 1,700 events this year - all inspiring children and young adults everywhere to pursue STEM careers,’ Minister Husic said. 

‘Why is this so important? Because we want a future made in Australia. One based on our expertise in quantum computing, medical science, renewables, and other advanced technologies. To get there, we’ll need to grow our STEM talent pool.’


Australian science is exciting and diverse.

We spoke to some of Australia's most inspiring scientists and innovators about their work and what inspires them. Watch our YouTube playlist below to see what they say.

Dr Verity Normington

As a young kid, I used to pick up rocks and those sorts of things.

I've always been really curious. Like why are the mountain ranges there? How did they get there? Those types of things. So that's what inspired me to get into STEM, it’s just an innate curiosity about how the world works and why things are where they are.

A very, very, very long time ago, there was a big glacier that moved from Antarctica through South Australia, and up into Central Australia. And at this place called Hallett Cove, there's this big clifftop at the top and it's smooth.

And so we can tell from that polished surface as a scientist, as a geologist, that there used to be, there was a glacier there and it moved in that sort of way and polished it up. Those striae, those scratches that the glacier put in, in this hard, hard rock, give us a sense of direction.

I did a lot of my PhD research on those sorts of rocks, and I always get a sense of wonder every time I go back to that spot.

There's now technology that we can look at what's in waste piles and actually extract things like copper, like critical minerals, the rare earths that are absolutely vital for us to use to make solar panels, EV, your phone, your computer, all of those types of things.

My advice for any young person that wants to become a scientist, or a technologist, or a mathematician, or an innovator, is keep asking questions, keep blazing the path.

If someone says you can't do that because no one's ever done it before, you can be that person to do it first.

Try to say yes to as many things as you can, and that will open you up to an amazing career in whatever it is within the STEM world that you want to do.

We have a fantastic initiative here called Science in the Centres, where there's all these pop-up booths in the shopping malls.

I will absolutely be going and visiting some of those and learning some new things about science that I didn't understand or didn't know about.

Happy National Science Week, I hope everyone has an amazing time.

Dr Xia Hua

When I was a kid, about five, I got this gift from my parents.

I still remember there is a book cover where it has a glass frog. And if you hadn't heard about glass frog, glass frog are basically transparent. So you can see the organs of the frog through its skin.

So this is the first spark and this is why I love biology in the beginning.

Using the exact mathematics with a little bit tweak, you can actually apply the methods that we use genes, in our bodies, to trace our evolutionary history back to our ancestor, using heavy metals that was generated by supernova, in our Milky Way, to trace back how different gas they flowed during the formation of our galaxy.

I think that so far would be the coolest story of my work.

STEM is evidence based, innovation happens every day in STEMs, and also STEMs is problem driven.

So in order to be successful in STEM, the first thing you need to do is to make sure you learn something new every day.

You want to keep yourself updated with the new advancement in STEMs.

This is my first baby, I become a mother in August so I probably will celebrate the National Science Week by studying the crying language of my baby.

But I am looking forward that, in future years, I can bring my son to all events of the National Science Week, and I also are interested in engaging in communicating science with young kids, in the future.

Happy National Science Week.

Associate Professor Brett Hallam

My name is Brett Hallam and I'm an Associate Professor specialising in solar engineering at UNSW in Sydney.

I grew up in country Victoria with my dad, who's a plumber, installing solar hot water systems, and that's where I got my interest in solar technology from and what it can do for the environment.

I was fascinated about how it can turn sunlight into electricity, and from this I decided to study solar energy engineering at UNSW.

Australia is a world leader in using rooftop solar. More than 30% of houses have solar panels and this is a fantastic achievement.

But what people might not know is that ironically, when we put solar panels out on our rooftops or in the field, they can lose some of their performance when exposed to sunlight.

My work focuses on improving solar panel technology to make them cheaper, more efficient and more reliable.

Our team has developed a world first technology at UNSW using light and heat to activate hydrogen and use that hydrogen to neutralise defects in solar cells that we put into solar panels. This process is known as hydrogen passivation.

This technology has been patented and commercialised worldwide and now features in more than 95% of solar panels we see in Australia and abroad.

Beyond the research, what I love about my job is working with an amazing team and seeing them grow as our technology grows.

People that I've worked with in my team have now gone all around the world to help deploy solar panel technologies.

A career in science can give you an opportunity to continuously learn and develop technologies to improve the world.

Happy National Science Week.

Dr Pip Karoly

My name is Dr Pip Karoly and I'm a Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Melbourne and a data scientist at Seer Medical.

Seer’s vision is to develop technology to help people with epilepsy to better manage their health.

Currently, at least 250,000 Australians are affected by epilepsy, so all of us know someone who has epilepsy.

Epileptic seizures, even small events can be a serious problem for people's lives. Not knowing when a seizure will happen can cause a lot of anxiety
and risk for people. Activities that we take for granted, such as driving, exercising or swimming, even a hot cup of tea can become dangerous.

We've launched a mobile and wearable app to forecast people's risk of having a seizure.

You can think of the app as a little like the weather forecasting app on your mobile phone. So each day you might have a look at the probability of rain and think about whether you need an umbrella.

Similarly, for people with epilepsy, they can look at their risk of having a seizure and plan their activities around that.

I realised that a career in science could help me bridge my interests in medicine and biology, technology,
through to problem solving and maths.

Now, one of the things I love most about my job is getting to do blue sky research and work towards understanding the mystery of the human brain.

A really rewarding aspect of my work is being able to span right from research through to clinical translation and being able to work with the people who benefit from the technology and hear their perspectives firsthand.

Don't think of yourself as being a person who loves science or loves being creative, because science is one of the most creative fields
you can work in.

A career in science will give you work that is always exciting, different and creative.

Happy National Science Week.

SwarmFarm Robotics

I'm Andrew Bate from SwarmFarm Robotics.

We're here at a farm called Bendee, which is the home of SwamFarm Robotics. We actually run a farming operation here, so we run beef cattle as well as grow grain crops.

The reason we started SwarmFarm in the first place was to build more sustainable farming systems and better ways of farming.

We actually have like an app store and a developer ecosystem that we call SwarmConnect.

And what that does, it allows other people, other innovators around the world to develop new Ag technology that suits their region, their climate, their cropping system that they produce food in and allows them to release this new robotic technology as part of our robots.

We build the robot itself, and that's our base robot.

The first prototypes, the first robot we brought out were really a conversation starter with farmers saying, look, this is something that's going to fundamentally change the way you get out of bed in the morning and think about growing your crops.

And that's something we're really proud of because we're a team here in regional Australia, most of Ag Tech companies are based in capital cities, we're right here in the heart of agriculture on farm delivering cutting edge technology.

I'm Sarah Nolet, I'm one of the managing partners at Tenacious Ventures.

SwarmFarm often get asked, how do you think about are you taking jobs away or regional communities going to be smaller?

It's actually the opposite. If there are going to be young people coming back to these communities, what we're seeing is they want to work on the farm where the robot is.

And so it's actually quite a talent attractor and I think is heralding some of the future of work and service providers and talent that we will see in regional communities.

I still work on a fully commercial farm here. I don't spend a lot of time farming anymore and my life's tied up with robots and really proud to be an Ag Tech company that's based out in rural Australia.


Event details and activities

National Science Week 2023 runs from Saturday, 12 August to Sunday, 20 August. 

The 2023 theme is ‘innovation: powering future industries’. This includes advancing technology in all industries especially using artificial intelligence (AI).

This year our department supported 32 innovative public science engagement projects with nearly $500,000 in grant funding. Many projects will focus on First Nations science and scientists, diversity, and take place in remote and regional Australia. 

Events we supported include: 

  • The Indigenous Science Experience @ Redfern brings together the learnings of 60,000 years of First Nations science to the community through immersive online and in-person activities.
  • Microtoons is an animated science story produced with autistic and neurodiverse talents.
  • The Gurraj Region Science Week brings science and other culturally relevant learning sessions to remote First Nations communities.
  • The National Quantum and Dark Matter Road Trip is a fortnight-long interactive travelling science show, unshrouding the mystery of quantum physics.

Many of the activities are virtual. Here are just some of the inspiring online events you can join:

  • Watch a battle of the brains in the National Science Quiz – the losing team will get slimed on stage! Play along at home for the chance to win cash prizes.   
  • Learn how to make the perfect paper plane with the team at Questacon for Foldable Flight. 
  • Join CSIRO for an introduction on how to bring AI and machine learning into the classroom. 

Join us at National Science Week and share your stories on social media with the hashtag #ScienceWeek.

Visit the National Science Week website

Find out about all the events happening online or around your local area.