In March of 2021 we were tasked with creating a series of livestreamed tours to highlight the amazing research happening in Australia, giving scientists the opportunity to share their workplace and engage with the general public in a casual and exciting way.
The months leading up to the event were filled with virtual meetings, tough decisions and a lot of planning. As first time Pint of Science volunteers, being given full control to create an entirely new event was both an intense challenge and an amazing learning experience. Running the festival online allowed us to present the series on a national level, raising the stakes but also the possibilities!
The process initially seemed straightforward, but little did we know that it would become a lot more involved and time was not our friend. Eventually it all came together, and we were fortunate enough to have five scientists willing to take us on four different lab tours for the good of science engagement, all hosted by our very own Pint of Science Co-CEOs Jirana as the MC and Tom as the vision mixer!
Our first tour featured the amazing Dr Eleanor Campbell who works in Australia’s biggest particle accelerator. Dr Campbell took us on a tour of the Australian Synchrotron, a facility bigger than the MCG that takes images using light a million times brighter than the sun!
Our next tour was all about the forensic world of fingerprint analysis with Dr Willam Gee. Dr Gee showed us the forensics labs at Griffith University, unveiling how forensic practitioners use simulated evidence to solve real life problems. This included cutting edge tricks to get fingerprints from (almost) any surface, from staining gases to glowing powders.
We then went on an out-of-this-world adventure with Dr Melrose Brown at the UNSW Canberra Space facilities. Dr Brown took us through the entire satellite building process, from the meeting rooms where researchers pull together their ideas to the massive testing chambers where they physically test the intelligent satellites that are able to detect and characterise the human-made objects that orbit the earth around 14 times a day. We even got to see a rocket launch!
The final tour for the series brought us to the University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research, where Dr Emanuele Pelosi and Yunan Ye showed us the inner workings of two fertility and development labs. We witnessed the incredibly precise skills required to work with oocytes, from DNA sequencing, delicate machinery and the filtered sippy straw used to move single mouse eggs between petri dishes!
It is rewarding to look back and see the final product of what was a huge team effort. The help and support of the Pint of Science AU team was invaluable, with rapid support from ICT, helpful hints from the comms team and the eternal wisdom, skills and connections of our two CEOs. We’re grateful for the time and effort put in by all of our presenters, as well as everyone that tuned in and asked questions!
Volunteering with Pint of Science was a great experience for us. If you have some spare time and want to help make science more accessible (as well as work with some pretty cool people) we would highly recommend it.
You can rewatch these tours on the Pint of Science AU YouTube page. Remember to comment, subscribe and smash that like button!
Karen and Steph
Live tours Team, 2021