National Quantum & Dark Matter Road Trip 2022 round-up

The National Quantum & Dark Matter Road Trip saw 24 members of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Engineered Systems (EQUS) and/or the ARC Centre of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics (CDM) drive from Brisbane to Perth over National Science Week, 8–26 August 2022.  The team visited 25 regional schools and delivered 14 public events during the trip, engaging members of the public at schools, pubs and committee hubs in all things quantum and dark matter.


Road-trippers hanging out in Coffs Harbour, Tharwa and Kalgoorlie

Overall, the road trip was a huge success.  The feedback so far has been really positive, especially from students, teachers and attendees at our public events, but also from the road-trippers.

Ben McAllister—road trip organiser and participant—said: “The road trip was a fantastic opportunity to get out into regional and rural areas, and talk to school students and people who wouldn’t typically get that kind of engagement.  The students had some fantastic questions—there was so much curiosity about the nature of the Universe, at all levels, which was really encouraging to see.”


Stefan, Graeme and Riddhi presenting to students at Stawell High School, Cunderdin District High School and Yass High School, respectively

In total, the team engaged around 2,000 people at schools, pubs and community centres in quantum technologies and dark matter, including around 1,400 high-school students.  We also received a huge amount of media coverage, including 11 unique print and/or online media stories (syndicated across roughly 120 titles), 15 radio spots and a feature on WIN News Toowoomba (syndicated across Queensland).  As well as being great promotion for the road trip, EQUS and CDM, it provided EQUS and CDM members with the opportunity to practice their science communication.  In particular:

  • Ben was interviewed by ABC Goulburn Murray, ABC Wimmera, ABC Mildura–Swan Hill, 2GB/3AW and ABC Statewide, Bendigo HIT FM, quoted in the Yass Valley Times
  • Cyril Laplane was interviewed by ABC Newcastle
  • Emily Filmer was interviewed by ABC Great Southern Mornings
  • Jacinta May was interviewed by and quoted in the Bendigo Advertiser
  • Jeremy Bourhill was interviewed by Noongar Radio and ABC Midwest & Wheatbelt, and quoted in Western Australian articles
  • Maverick Millican was interviewed by WIN News
  • Renee Key was interviewed by WIN News and Bay FM


Left to right: Maverick setting up the ion trap demo at Murwillumbah High School; Jacinta and Alex explaining the diamond demo to students at Yass High School; and Ben giving a public talk to an audience of 100 at Stawell Town Hall

Ben said that the road trip was exhausting, but also a tonne of fun, with the pub quizzes being a person highlight.

“As well as being great fun, the pub quizzes proved to be great conversation starters.  People seemed genuinely interested in quantum and dark matter—we spent hours after each quiz chatting to people and answering their questions,” he said.

We’re hoping to do a series of smaller, state-based road trips in 2023, followed by another National Quantum and Dark Matter Road Trip in 2024.

Some road trip stats:

  • 24 scientists and science communicators
    • 11 EQUS members
    • 5 EQUS and CDM members
    • 8 CDM members
  • 22 days of road-tripping activities
  • 12,372 kilometres on the odometer:
    • Car 1 (Brisbane to Perth): 7,115 km
    • Car 2 (Brisbane to Adelaide): 3,656 km
    • Car 3 (Kalgoorlie to Perth): 1,601 km
  • 25 school visits
  • 14 public events
  • 40+ cities & towns
  • 3,000+ items of merch
    • 2,000 stickers
    • 270 bags of jelly beans
    • 200 fridge magnets
    • 30 seed packets
    • 500 EQUS/CDM merch items
  • 2,000+ people engaged
    • 1,400 school students
    • 120 pub goers
    • 165 public talk or lecture attendees
    • 315 attendees at other public events
  • 0 ghosts

Top to bottom: Corrigin District High School;
UQ Open Day; pub trivia at The Bentleys Hotel, Clare;
and Manangatang P–12 College