5 weeks to go!

Work is well underway preparing for the 2022 National Quantum & Dark Matter Road Trip.  We’re excited to have 25 school visits confirmed, with more schools potentially being confirmed in the next few days.  Plotting a sensible route across Australia, while fitting in as many schools as possible, has been an interesting challenge.  The focus is now on filling in the gaps with public lectures, pub quizzes and other public events.  Check out our interactive map to see where we’ll be stopping: https://www.qdmroadtrip.org/about/route.

Assigning our scientists to the various legs of the road trip was also a mammoth task.  We had to take into account the availability of our road-trippers and where they’re usually based (to minimise travel costs), while ensuring we had enough drivers for each leg and a mix of experience and expertise.  To get a sense of the chaos involved in this problem, check out our post-it planning:

The team are also working hard on several other fronts: booking accommodation, cars and flights; preparing engaging quantum and dark matter presentations and demos; organising media, merchandise and collateral; and finalising other operational requirements.

We’re very much looking forward to hitting the road!  With only 5 weeks to go, we’d better get back to work…

Road trip to introduce regional and rural Australians to quantum and dark matter

Scientists will travel across Australia to share the excitement of quantum technologies and the search for dark matter in the National Quantum & Dark Matter Road Trip, 8–26 August 2022.

The road trip aims to bring particle and quantum physics to regional and rural areas.

Scientists from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics (CDM) and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems (EQUS), which have bases in multiple states and territories, will visit community hubs along a route from Brisbane to Perth, connecting their research centres.

The event has been expanded to travel across the continent after a successful road trip throughout southwest Western Australia in 2021.

Centre researcher Ben McAllister, from Swinburne University of Technology and the University of Western Australia, said the response to the event had been extremely positive.

“Last year’s road trip was an awesome experience — getting out into regional and rural communities to spread the excitement and wonder of science was so rewarding.  I’m looking forward to reaching more regional and rural Australians this year.”

CDM Education and Outreach Coordinator Jackie Bondell described the National Quantum & Dark Matter Road Trip as “an interactive travelling science and art show”.

“Quantum technology and the nature of dark matter are key Australian research priorities and are vital to unravelling the greatest mysteries of the Universe,” Ms Bondell said.

“During the trip, which spans National Science Week, scientists from two ARC Centres of Excellence will engage and enlighten the public on the importance of the fundamental scientific research taking place in their own backyards.

“The goal of the program is to visit regional communities to engage audiences of all ages with the cutting-edge science happening here in Australia.  Our scientists will provide hands-on activities and give talks in hopes of engaging visitors in conversations about the excitement and the impact of science.”

Funding for the National Science Week activity was announced by the Minister for Science and Technology, Melissa Price, today.

The road trip was among 35 projects that received support in the $500,000 National Science Week grant round.

National Science Week grants provide the opportunity for community participation in high-profile science engagement activities across Australia.  They aim to inspire participation in science, technology, engineering and maths, acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of Australian scientists to the world of knowledge, encourage an interest in science pursuits and foster in younger people a fascination in the world we live in.

Inspiring the next generation for National Science Week

A quantum technology road trip, robotics competitions and an inflatable digestive system ‘poo palace’ are just some of the science projects being supported by the Morrison Government’s 2022 National Science Week grants.

Thirty-five public science projects will share in more than $500,000 as part of Australia’s annual celebration of science and technology.

The grants include funding for:

  • The University of Melbourne’s interactive travelling science and art show bringing quantum physics to regional and rural areas.
  • Student Robotics Club of South Australia’s Robot Scrimmage competition day where students can work together to battle it out.
  • The Hunter Medical Research Institute’s oversized inflatable re-creation of the digestive system where children can conduct interactive food experiments and learn about digestion.

Minister for Science and Technology Melissa Price said National Science Week was a great way to encourage interest and participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

“National Science Week is a fantastic and fun opportunity to recognise the wonderful work of our scientists and hopefully inspire our next generation of big-thinkers,” Minister Price said.

“Science plays a huge part in our daily life, even if we don’t always realise.

“The great events and activities in National Science Week are not only fun and interactive, but they can show us just how much we use science in our everyday life.

“This year, we’ve got a huge range of events and there’s something for everyone, whether that’s learning about the science of bush tucker, quantum physics, robotics or even how our bodies work.

“Last year, we saw more than one million Aussies participating in events across every state and territory, and we’re expecting that this year we’re going to see even more people getting out and joining in on the fun.”

The 2022 school theme for National Science Week is ‘Glass: More than meets the eye’ and is based on the UN International Year Of Glass.

National Science Week 2022 will run 13–21 August.

More details, including the full list of grant recipients, are available at scienceweek.net.au.

WA Quantum & Dark Matter Road Trip a resounding success

As part of National Science Week 2021, researchers from the Quantum Technologies and Dark Matter Lab at the University of Western Australia—Aaron Quiskamp, Ben McAllister, Catriona Thomson, Cindy Zhao, Elrina Hartman, Jeremy Bourhill, Mike Tobar and William Campbell—piled into a minibus and embarked on the Quantum & Dark Matter Road Trip, visiting schools and communities across southwest Western Australia.  It was a resounding success, thoroughly enjoyed by the road-trippers and those they visited along the way.

Over the five-day trip, the team spoke to nine classes across seven schools and delivered three public events, reaching a total of roughly 1,000 students, teachers and members of the public.  They engaged their audiences through demonstrations such as a water clock and an umbrella-based proof of the existence of dark matter, provided a sneak peek into the lives of physicists, and talked up the cutting-edge research being done at the ARC Centres of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems and Dark Matter Particle Physics.

Mike Tobar delivered a public lecture on quantum technology, measuring time, sapphire clocks and the search for elusive dark-matter particles.  On display during the talk was a sculpture by local artist Duncan Moon, Tempus fugit, which explores the human perception of time and space.

The team had a stall at the Newton Moore Senior High School STEM Community Fair, during which Ben McAllister gave a public talk about dark matter and how quantum technologies are being used in dark-matter searches.  They also set-up their demonstrations at the Rose Hotel, facilitating fruitful discussions with local punters.

Road trip stops:

  • Wagin District High School
  • Denmark Senior High School
  • Mt Barker Community College
  • UWA Albany Campus
  • Albany Senior High School
  • Newton Moore Senior High School
  • Dalyellup College
  • The Rose Hotel, Bunbury
  • Nannup District High School

This initiative was enabled by funding from National Science Week Small Grants, and the ARC Centres of Excellence for Engineered Quantum Systems and Dark Matter Particle Physics.  Thanks also to Linda Barbour for helping to organise the road trip.


Route taken by the road trip team

 Jeremy, Ben and Mike at the Newton Moore Community Fair

The team (Mike, Will, Aaron, Ben, Elrina, Cat, Cindy and Jeremy)

Water clock at the Rose Hotel, Bunbury