National Science Week is about connecting the community with science

National Science Week is about connecting everyone, of all ages and backgrounds, with scientific discovery. Photo: Shutterstock
National Science Week is about connecting everyone, of all ages and backgrounds, with scientific discovery. Photo: Shutterstock

This week is National Science Week - a nationwide, week-long festival of all things science. It's a week where we open our labs (and our hearts), where we take science into schools, into the streets, into libraries, into pubs.

This week, I'll be heading to a climate change fundraiser movie night, talking about women in science at a local Rotary club, going to a night of science in the pub, and hosting a science-themed morning tea.

And of course, I'm not the only one. Scientists in all states and territories are heading out into their communities, running activities or attending events for science week. There are literally thousands of events running across the country, staffed mostly by volunteers.

So why do we do it? National Science Week is about connecting everyone, of all ages and backgrounds, with scientific discovery. I can't speak for all scientists, but I get involved because I want to help people better understand not just scientific facts or concepts, but what science IS.

How it's about curiosity and a desire to understand the world around us.

How it's about systematically working to find solutions. How it's about using creativity to solve problems. How it's about discovering things that can change lives or improve the way we do things.

I think now, more than ever, Science Week is important. In recent years, we've seen participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects at school drop to an all-time low.

Yet these STEM skills are in high demand, and look set to remain so in the future job market.

We're living in a world where many influential people - including some politicians - seem to have little regard for scientific discovery and evidence-based research.

In many ways, there seems to be a disconnect between the science and technology that people use day to day, and the science that they know or understand.

This Science Week, I hope that everyone around the country can get involved in science in some way - maybe it's an activity at a local library, or a school science fair. Maybe it's engaging with science through a documentary on TV, or heading out to museum or science centre or going to that local science talk.

Whichever way you choose to get involved, I hope that you can experience some wonder, some excitement and a sense of discovery. Because science really is all around us.

Dr Mary McMillan is a lecturer at the School of Science and Technology, University of New England