The Sydney Science Festival is on again this August with a program of offerings that covers every field of interest for every age and knowledge range across a variety of venues. It’s the fifth year of the festival and it has grown at the rate of an exploding supernova.
“Last year was the biggest year for the festival so far – we had over 85,000 people come to the event. We had over 200 events,” says Catherine Polcz, who has been involved with the festival from the start and became program producer last year. With a broad spectrum of offerings covering technology, astronomy, space travel, conservation, and human nature the program has something for everyone.
“It’s not just scientists in the audience, but people who are interested in learning more about science,” says Polcz.
The 50 year anniversary of the Moon landing has piqued enthusiasm, but it’s not the only significant milestone.
“This year is also 150 years of the periodic table, so the chemists are all excited about that, and it’s also 30 years since the invention of the world wide web – so it’s a big year of anniversaries,” says Polcz.
The festival features a line up of local and international speakers, with many of them being women – something Polcz says was unintentional but gratifying.
“I think with the festival we can change the stereotypical image people see of a scientist in their head.”
Speakers include: Sylvia Earle, a champion of ocean conservation since the 1970s who worked with the Obama administration to create submarine parks; Andrea Boyd, a flight controller for the international space station; Elizabeth Blackburn, the first Australian to win a Nobel Prize in Chemistry; Clare L Evans, science writer and musician who has written a feminist history of the internet; Julia Shaw, a Canadian psychologist who is exploring the concepts of “evil”; Paul Davies, a physicist interested in the origins of life. That’s just to name a few.
Highlights include “Days Of Our Hives” with comic beekeeper, Alanta Colley; “Night Of Illusions” with scientists presenting optical illusions, mind games and other fun stuff; “Science In The Swamp”, a family day of activities throughout the Centennial Parklands. There is also an extensive schools component.
“I think it’s a really strong program this year, and really there’s something for so many different people,” says Polcz.

August 6 − 18, various venues.

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