Venture down microscopes and up telescopes into the world of the microscopic and sciency topics.

The context

The Bioscience period was one of our first concentrated forays into the realm of serious science. This was a pretty big step for the team, and at times could be pretty daunting as we worked to get our head around protocols, requirements, safe practices and what science looked like outside of a professional lab environment.

The nuts and bolts

Throughout the period we offered a range of workshops and events, along with ongoing projects open to community participation.

The Mad Scientist Tea Parties were a key event throughout the period. Held monthly, these sessions were a way to ensure that science wasn’t just for scientists. Towards the end of the series this event was attracting around 100 people to each session.

Our Catalyst for the period, Dr Cameron Wilson, set out to embed elements of science throughout our building and our calendar. He started by installing a vertical farm in our window bays, providing lettuce for all, and quickly moved into running workshops in the science of fermentation, using bacteria to turn cabbage into kimchi and using yeast to turn ginger and sugar into (low-alcohol) ginger beer.

Cameron’s ongoing obsession though, was the kombucha project, growing sustainable textiles from tea and bacteria. The kombucha went on to claim a permanent home in the so-called Creepy Lab (aka the basement) long after Cameron’s appointment had concluded.

Rebecca Cunningham joined us for a residency, continuing to work on her life-long performance piece, One. Over the period she collected DNA samples from willing participants to compile into a durational performance.

DNA jewellery making was also on the agenda, with Svenja Kratz teaching participants how to extract DNA from a piece of fruit or vegetable and then use it to create wearable art.

The period ended with a bang, as the Science Fair spilled out into the streets (well, the breezeway at least).

The learnings

  • Think twice before working with children, animals or micro-organisms
  • Some things to require experts, and those experts need to be given the structure to share their expertise across all team, from operations to communications
  • It takes time to build a new audience, especially when you are offering opportunities in this area for the first time
  • It’s really valuable to be able to move past concepts into practical activities

The legacy

  • A permanent chemical store is now located in our building
  • We now have a range of scientific equipment available for programming (in an area now fondly known as the Creepy Lab)
  • An ongoing focus on cross-disciplinary entry points to science

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