Flying Scientists

In collaboration with the Wonder of Science, we are excited to deliver the program 'Flying Scientists: Engaging Rural Queenslanders in Science'.

The Flying Scientists are early-mid career researchers that accompany Young Science Ambassadors into regional Queensland centres for community Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) awareness events.

The program was developed to address the shortage of science related events convened outside South East Queensland – see a survey report (PDF, 1,010.0KB) commissioned by OQCS which highlights this.

For more information visit the Flying Scientist page on the Wonder of Science website.

2021 visits

In March, the Flying Scientists visited Emerald. More than 130 people attended the community event to hear from:

  • Queensland Chief Scientist, Prof Hugh Possingham
  • Snake expert, Dr Christina Zdenek
  • Fossil specialist, Dr Anita Milroy
  • Lead scientist in the Parasites in the Wild citizen science project, Saba Sinai

The scientists spoke about their area of research, their careers and the importance of developing STEM skills. There were interactive displays of fossils from the area as well as the local Science Squad’s work on the citizen science project.

During the visit to Emerald, the Flying Scientists visited Emerald State School and Capella State High School and Prof Possingham lead a bird walk in the botanical gardens.

2020 visits

2020 was an interesting year for the Flying Scientists with social distancing and travel restrictions changing the way they engaged with schools and the community.

Despite these challenges, the Flying Scientists held a range of virtual events with students across the state to talk science.

The topics explored included:

  • fossils and fanged kangaroos
  • earth and space
  • water quality
  • virus science
  • science careers
  • Q&A sessions with scientists.

The Flying Scientists worked directly with a number of regional schools across Queensland and shared their discussions online to enable everyone to learn and enjoy science.

The locations they engaged directly with were:

  • Mt Isa
  • Gympie
  • Cairns
  • Yeppoon
  • and Chinchilla.

For view these sessions online visit the Wonder of Science Queensland YouTube page.

2019 visits

The Flying Scientists program continues to grow with 16 passionate STEM professionals travelling to 11 cities and towns across regional Queensland to speak to local communities about what it is like to work in a STEM field.

Audiences including school students engaged with scientists as they learnt more about educational and entertaining topics such as:

  • volcanoes and eruptions
  • how the human brain makes decisions
  • protecting our precious waterways
  • using microbes to accelerate mine site remediation
  • how bone, tooth, antler, ivory, claw, quill, shell were used to create tools and ornaments by First Australians over the past 65,000 years
  • the 1959 lunar landing 50 years ago.

Flying Scientists’ talks and displays at the World Science Festival's Gladstone (6500 attendees) and Chinchilla (2500 attendees) locations, and the Office of the Queensland Chief Scientist’s community event (200 attendees) at its National Science Week Regional STEM Pop-up in Maryborough attracted large numbers of visitors. A total of 10,916 people engaged with a Flying Scientist in 2019.

See below the 11 locations visited and which Flying Scientist attended:

Gladstone – Dr Michelle Langley

Chinchilla – Dr James Kesby

Cairns – Dr Teresa Ubide

Hervey Bay – Dr Honor Hugo, Dr Audra Shadforth

Charleville Cosmos Centre – Dr Jake Clark, Dr Jyotsna Batra, Dr Eric Street

Longreach – Dr Tom Cole-Hunter

Maryborough – Dr Francesca Frentiu

Cooktown – Dr Michael Simmonds

Mackay – Dr Emma Gagen

Airlie Beach – Dr Jenny Allen

Tullawong – Dr Shaneel Chanra, Dr Michela Mitchell, Dr James Kesby

2018 visits

Flying Scientists visited communities in seven regional locations from Weipa in the north to Longreach in the west to talk about their amazing research and careers.

More than 3300 community members and school students attended presentations on topics from how sunscreen works and the important role it plays in reducing the risk of developing melanoma to crocodiles and how they feed, move around wetlands and what this mean for conservation.

Flying Scientists joined the World Science Festival Brisbane as part of its regional tour to Gladstone and Chinchilla again this year. In August, they also attended the Office of the Queensland Chief Scientist’s National Science Week Regional STEM Pop-up in Longreach.

Both events and the Flying Scientists program bring scientists and the community together, inspiring young minds and engaging many who would not usually have the opportunity to participate in scientist-based activities.

See below the 7 locations visited and which Flying Scientist attended:

Gladstone – Dr Vince Dalbo

Chinchilla – Dr Jonathon Peake

Taroom – Dr Ken Dutton-Register

Longreach – Dr Ken Dutton-Register

Weipa – Dr Fernanda Adame

Cloncurry – Dr Kaylene Butler

Bundaberg – Dr Sri Srinivasan

2017 visits

In 2017, 8 scientists (Dr Shihu Hu, Dr Soi Law, Dr Alice Hayward, Dr Paul Shaw, Dr Paul Luckman, Dr Makrina Totsika, Dr Dimitrios Vagenas and Dr Janine Hoormann) visited 6 locations across Queensland including Gladstone and Chinchilla as part of World Science Festival as well as Charleville, Mt Isa, Weipa and Calen (near Mackay). These scientists reached almost 6000 people with the Gladstone community event covering almost half of that figure.

2016 visits

Three scientists (Dr Paul Pounds, Dr Cheryl McCarthy and Dr Kate Hutson) visited 5 regions across Queensland (Wandoan, Roma, Charleville, Longreach and Cooktown) reaching over 350 people.