This week is National Science Week. I’ve been joking with some of my colleagues that it’s just like Christmas – only for science.
During Science Week, as scientists, we get to play the role of Santa.
And the gifts we give are engaging with our communities and sharing our knowledge and love of all things science.
There are science talks, science films, science displays and activities running in locations all around the country. We run trivia nights in pubs.
We judge science fairs at our local schools. We encourage people to get involved in citizen science projects.
I love Science Week because it’s a time when the spotlight really gets shone on how important science is.
And also how much of a part it is of our everyday lives.
Let’s face it, without science you wouldn’t be able to sit and read this on your mobile phone. Without science, we wouldn’t have the medications and medical technology that we rely on to keep people alive.
And if you have an appreciation of science you can understand how so many things in the world work. So, a little bit of science for everyone this Science Week is a great thing.
There is, however, one thing that concerns me a bit during Science Week.
If you look through the long lists of events being held throughout Science Week, you might notice that the vast majority of them are taking place in our capital cities.
If you’re in Sydney, or Adelaide or Brisbane, there are hundreds of events to take part in.
But what about for people living in regional and rural areas? The events are few and far between.
We already know that fewer people from regional and rural areas go on to study or work in a science-related field.
We also know that students in these areas tend to have less access to science activities through schools, which tend to be underresourced, and often lack trained science teachers.
It seems to me that during Science Week, regional and remote areas are once again overlooked.
Science is just as important, and as fun, in the bush as it is in the city.
I really hope that everyone – wherever they are in this great country – gets to take part in some sort of celebration of National Science Week.
And I hope that we can do better in regional and rural areas in the future.
Dr Mary McMillan is an Associate Lecturer at the University of New England’s School of Science & Technology.