National Science Week at the Museum

What a weekend! The waterfront was full of visitors looking to explore the underwater world of Sydney Harbour. Over 1200 people came through the door and we hope every one of them left with a greater understanding of the harbour’s diversity of life and work that is being done by organisations across NSW to protect and engage with this underwater world.

Up close with the secrets of Sydney Harbour

The Sydney Harbour Laboratory was a highlight. Housed in the sunny Endeavour Pavilion, next to our historic replica tall ship HMB Endeavour, the Sydney Institute of Marine Science, Office of Environment and Heritage and Silentworld Foundation joined the Museum to present a suite of hands-on learning activities.

Experiences included ‘design your own’ seawalls, plankton illustration, microplastics and beach watch, and virtual experiences of bathymetric surveys, Heritage Near Me and underwater Sydney Harbour. There was a touch tank (everyone loves touch tanks) and the chance to talk with maritime archaeologists, see some diving gear and touch artefacts recovered from shipwrecks.

At Kids on Deck families enjoyed face painting, art making, experiments and interactive games inspired by maritime archaeology and marine life – engineering boats that float and paper submarines, printing reusable tote bags and sea creature softies.

Out on the performance platform, Professor Pufferfish and his trusty side-kick Charlotte debunked the scientific myths and mysteries of the harbour environment in our Harbour Hoots show: how seagulls fly, how boats float and the perils of plastic pollution in the water. This message was supported by a working ocean rubbish bin (seabin) on loan from The Seabin Project for National Science Week.

Our Seabin has recovered almost an entire wheelie bin of rubbish in just two weeks! Image: Seabin Project.

Our Seabin has recovered almost an entire wheelie bin of rubbish in just two weeks! Image: Seabin Project.

Our Seabin has recovered almost an entire wheelie bin of rubbish in just two weeks!

A closeup look at the debris recovered by the Seabin. Image: Jackson Pellow/ANMM.

A closeup look at the debris recovered by the Seabin. Image: Jackson Pellow/ANMM.

The Museum recently purchased a suite of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). National Science Week was a chance for us to get them in the water as visitors had the opportunity to get hands-on with underwater robots and practice driving them around the Sea Science Pontoon, spotting fish and other hidden treasures.

Visitors could pilot the underwater robots (ROVs) and practice driving them around the Sea Science Pontoon, spotting fish and other hidden treasures. Image: Emily Jateff/ANMM.

Visitors could pilot the underwater robots (ROVs) and practice driving them around the Sea Science Pontoon, spotting fish and other hidden treasures. Image: Emily Jateff/ANMM.

Adrift with citizen science and plankton

Dr Martina Doblin of UTS gave a presentation on the citizen science project Adrift in the museum theatre. This was followed by the launch of the installation Adrift at the Museum, where visitors are invited to go on a journey with the microscopic marine plankton known as ‘Gymn’.

This installation is part of the Adrift project, which encourages Citizen Scientists to map, in a simulated web environment, where marine microbes experience the largest variation in their environment, and pinpoint areas of the global ocean where cells must have large tolerances to survive. Adrift is a collaborative project developed by the University of Technology Sydney’s Climate Change Cluster (C3), Faculty of Science and Data Poetics, Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building together with the Centre for Science Communication at the University of Otago, New Zealand.

Anglerfish: An expected ‘winner’ of scientific debate

Rounding out the day, and the end of a fantastic science week at the Museum, we hosted The Science Nation debate tournament: the greatest discovery ever made. Doing battle in Sydney were: theoretical physicist, Dr Sam Bladwell; oceanographer, Prof Martina Doblin; marine biologist, fish sex researcher and underwater explorer, Prof William Gladstone; Maritime archaeologist, Kieran Hosty; biologist, maritime archaeologist Renee Malliaros; neuroscientist, Dr William Redmond; physicist, Dr Peter Rohde; and psychology PhD student Nikki-Anne Wilson.

After an hour and a half of whirlwind debate, Bill Gladstone emerged victorious as the winner, with his support of the sex lives of anglerfish as the greatest discovery ever made.

— Emily Jateff, Curator of Ocean Science and Technology

Posted in: ANMM Events