BRIGHT SPARK: Steve Liddell presents Street Science at World Science Festival Brisbane in Chinchilla last year.
BRIGHT SPARK: Steve Liddell presents Street Science at World Science Festival Brisbane in Chinchilla last year. Julia Baker

Bringing science to the region

GET ready to don some lab coats and goggles because the World Science Festival Brisbane is headed back to Chinchilla.

The two-day event will run on March 9 and 10 as part of the festival's regional program, which will include hands-on activities, guest speakers and interactive displays.

Queensland Museum acting CEO Dr Jim Thompson said organisers are realising how influential the festival can be in attracting students to studying science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.

"It's very much a festival that's a combination of science and the arts and what we're doing is making science accessible to people, we want to make science fun, we want to take it out of the labs and into the streets and public spaces, so that's been the focus here,” Dr Thompson said.

Festival panellist Charles Gray said she's looking forward to sharing about the parallels between music and maths, and part of her outreach at the festival is to challenge the stereotypes of people who study STEM subjects.

"I think that people have a picture of what a mathematician... an image in their minds of what that person is, and I think that there's a huge gap between what that is and what reality is, so I think first and foremost in terms of my outreach is really just to stand there and look the way I do and talk the way I do, and be a woman,” Mrs Gray said.

"I was told all through my 20s that I wasn't smart, that I was better suited to creative pursuits that were to do with expression and creativity and words and I should avoid technical things... and I don't think anybody would accuse me of being not very technical now.”

"So I think we need to change what we think a mathematician is, and if I can help with that then I feel personally quite compelled because it's people having the wrong idea of what mathematics is, and what a career in mathematics entails, that led to people giving me the wrong advice, that I wasn't suited to this, because this is my dream job.”

Mrs Gray said just last week she spoke to a female engineering graduate who'd applied for a job at a construction company and been told women didn't tend to 'work out'.

"The very reason that women are so driven to be a part of these programs is because the problem is still so bad and I think people, there's a tendency towards complacency.”

"We've got so much more work to do.”

Western Downs regional councillor Kaye Maguire said it was exciting to have the festival come to the Western Downs.

"This is very exciting that the Chinchilla community, but also the Western Downs community has the opportunity to actually have a first-hand look at science and the amazing things that science can do,” Cr Maguire said.

"They have such mind-bending demonstrations they will be showcasing.”

"It'll grab their attention and give them an appreciation of how important science is in our everyday world.”

"It just covers almost every part of our life... it just gives people a rich and educational experience.”


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