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The Top Talks, Workshops and Activities to Catch at This Year's Sydney Science Festival

Get educated on the past, present and future of all fields of science during this Sydney-wide celebration.
By Alec Jones
August 03, 2023
By Alec Jones
August 03, 2023

in partnership with

Science is magic. It's a study and practice that we can't live without, designed by us to make sense of the nonsensical. It's a sky full of stars, an impossible reaction of elements, a brightly coloured coral plume or the miracle of our own lives. And if that's not worth celebrating, I don't know what is.

The Sydney Science Festival is almost upon us, that annual celebration from the good people at the Powerhouse Museum that treats curious humans to nine glorious days of uninterrupted science. The theme for this year is 'Trace', exploring the trace of humanity and our impact on the world. If you don't have time to explore the festival's full program, fear not, dear reader. We've gathered a must-see hit list of events across the festival, from Parramatta to Ultimo.



One of the final events of the festival is an after-dark entry that brings a light-hearted and entertaining approach to science with an evening of conversations, performances, workshops, live music and a fully stocked bar. Spend your evening being educated on botany, philosophy, sonification and more.

There'll also be 'The Drag Experiment', a performance exploring LGBTQIA+ talents in STEM, a drawing workshop with a leading Aussie artist, live music from DJ Mistry and drinks from beloved Marrickville brewery Grifter.

Powerhouse Late: Science takes place in the Powerhouse Museum, Ultimo on Thursday, August 17 from 5.30pm to 9pm. To register and find more information, visit the website.


Cassandra Hannagan


If you've got any aspiring junior scientists in your life then bring them to Parramatta Square for this family-oriented addition to the festival program. It's built around local scientists sharing their knowledge through hands-on activities and interactive performances that spread the good word of science to younger audiences.

Ranging from live experiments, storytelling, musical performances and insightful demonstrations, attendees will learn about temperature, solar power, sustainable food practices, clean water, coding, medicine, rockets, 3D printing and much more.

Family Science Day will take place in Parramatta Square on Saturday, August 19 from 10am to 3pm. Visit the website for more information.



This keynote conversation is between two scientific experts, one a multi-award-winning journalist and the other an astronaut reservist who will soon be one of the first Australian women to travel to Earth's orbit. The latter, Dr Meganne Christian, holds a Bachelor's and PhD from UNSW and has years of experience in the field, including a year of atmospheric research in Concordia Station, Antarctica.

She is part of 17 ESA (European Space Agency) reservists chosen from over 22,000 applicants and will be talking about her career and missions to come with celebrated journalist Rae Johnson. Johnson is known for her coverage of topics around science and technology and all things geek for NITV at SBS, plus her work in television, radio and multiple podcasts.

From Earth to Orbit will take place in PHIVE, Parramatta on Saturday, August 19 from 11am to 12pm. Secure your tickets here.



This one is a bit different. 100 Climate Conversations isn't a single event, it's a podcast series that profiles scientists leading the net-zero carbon revolution. Journalist Nate Byrne will be interviewing several scientists in live recordings during the festival.

Those scientists include Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, chief scientist of The Great Barrier Reef Foundation and one of the first figures to warn the world of the risks climate change poses to our reefs. Hoegh-Guldberg will be recording his conversation on Friday, August 11. Another will be with climatologist Professor Neville Nichols who used decades of experience to create a revolutionary early-warning heat wave system that has been saving lives since 2009. He'll be recording his conversation live on Friday, August 18.

100 Climate Conversations will be taking place across various sessions in the Powerhouse Museum, Ultimo. Visit the website for more information and to book tickets.



Created by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, this multi-sensory installation is designed to immerse and educate on the wonders of our world. Lozano-Hemmer was inspired by an idea of 19th-century scientist Charles Babbage, the idea that air is a 'vast library' containing records of every word ever spoken.

That idea is stretched across 18 immersive artworks that are made with cutting-edge technology from the fields of AI, robotics, 3D printing, nanotechnology and more. Those artworks include the world's first 3D-printed speech bubble, thousands of speakers playing individual field recordings, a ripple tank and a huge 360º projection chamber. It will be very cool indeed.

Atmospheric Memory will run in the Powerhouse Museum, Ultimo from Saturday, August 12 to Sunday, November 5. Book your tickets here.



This keynote turns our eyes down from the stars to the depths of our ocean. This session is hosted by Dr Nicole Yamase, a leading ocean scientist who was born in the island archipelago of Micronesia. She took her heritage and ocean-going childhood and turned it into a career worthy of celebration, graduating with a PhD in Marine Biology from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, specialising in the study of macroalgae and nearshore plants, now dedicating her life to the conservation of our oceans.

Dr Yamase achieved new heights in 2021 by becoming the first Micronesian woman to visit Challenger Deep, the deepest point in all of Earth's oceans. She's also a community leader and part of the team behind the Madau Project — a community group that works with diasporic Micronesian youth to teach them about their rich heritage and their people's history of wayfinding across the Pacific.

Pacific Odyssey will take place in the Powerhouse Museum, Ultimo on Saturday August 12 from 6pm to 7pm. Secure your tickets here.



As mentioned, one of the biggest parts of the festival is 'Atmospheric Memory', an installation in the Powerhouse Museum in Ultimo. The artist behind the installation is Mexican-born Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and he'll be joined in this keynote by Matthew Connell, Director of Curatorial, Collections and Programs at the Powerhouse Museum.

They'll discuss Lozano-Hemmer's career and past works and how it intersects with the extensive collection of works owned by the Powerhouse. Lozano-Hemmer's work has been a part of over nine Biennale showcases and 75 solo exhibitions worldwide. Now he brings that experience to the Sydney Science Festival and is keen to tell us all about it.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer in Conversation will take place in the Powerhouse Museum, Ultimo on Sunday, August 13 from 3pm to 4pm. Secure your tickets here.



Humans have been looking up at the sky for as long as we've existed, but what knowledge did our ancient ancestors draw from it? That's a focus of this talk between leading space archaeologist Dr Alice Gorman and First Nations Astrophysicist Karlie Noon.

Their conversation will unravel the festival theme of Trace by exploring topics of space junk and preservation, the connection between astronomy and cultural heritage and the future of Aussies in space. If you have a love for history or astronomy, you should definitely keep this on your radar.

Country and Sky will take place in the Powerhouse Museum, Ultimo on Monday, August 14 from 6pm to 7pm. Secure your tickets here.


The Sydney Science Festival runs in various venues across Sydney from Friday, August 11 through to Sunday, August 20. Some events will run beyond those dates. For more information and to book tickets to select events, visit the website

Published on August 03, 2023 by Alec Jones
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