Splendour in the grass

Science in the grass

Mixing science and music, this Science Tent brings zombies, sharks, and edible ants to the Splendour in the Grass festival.

Forty STEM researchers dazzled the crowds at this year’s Splendour in the Grass, a popular 3-day music festival held in Byron Bay. The first ever Science Tent presented scientists and technologists from across Australia all day, everyday, from 10 to 7 pm, giving 35,000 festival-goers a chance to to chat to scientists and hear about some of the incredible research projects underway.

Co-curated by Inspiring Australia (NSW), Future Crunch and Southern Cross University, #ScienceintheGrass began as an experiment, with festival organisers seeking to extend science content after overwhelming interest in last year’s appearance by the legendary Dr Karl.

With dozens of researchers agreeing to get involved and develop compelling presentations that would appeal to a young festival audience, the resulting program hit the mark, embracing the playful atmosphere of Splendour. We were all astounded at its success!

On the science program at Splendour in the Grass

On the program were sharks, viruses, corals and edible insects.

Researchers played the Theramin, mixed foaming potions, played with fire and explained how sound was made by whirling objects.

A zombie outbreak was simulated to show how viruses spread.

Audience members learned about the chemical basis of sexual attraction and why listening to music can be so pleasurable.

Their phones were hacked in session led by cybersecurity experts to demonstrate how easy it is to break into online systems why we need pay attention to online privacy settings.

The crowd learned cheeky dance moves based on scientific formulae. Future Crunch brought a poetic touch to research presentations with live music, comedy and improvised songs.

To keep the energy going after the event, Future Crunch used the occasion of Splendour to conduct a live Half Glass experiment. Filmed over three days, its purpose is to measure how optimistic young people are.

With the Science Tent a raging success, #scienceinthegrass represents a whole new way of bringing STEM research to young people and showing its relevance to life. Look out for more iterations of this brand new festival offering and do get in touch if you’d like to see something similar presented at a festival near you.

If you love music, check out these creative careers.

– Jackie Randles

Jackie Randles manages Inspiring Australia (NSW), the national strategy for public participation in STEM and innovation. Her mission is to take science, technology and engineering practitioners to places people go and to build bigger audiences for STEM researchers.

Photography by David Vagg

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