As part of National Science Week in 2017, we held a national STEM in Schools event with schools across Australia joining us in a virtual classroom forum to hear from a panel of Australians working in the space industry.

The panel shared insights into their work investigating tricky questions and solving problems related to all things space - think mission control, lasers, telescopes and space junk.

Via a virtual classroom, students were able to ask the panel questions and learn about STEM careers, particularly in the space industry. Following the virtual classroom, schools conducted classroom activities and many schools hosted a CSIRO STEM professional and Federal MP for the day.

Missed the virtual classroom?

You can re-live all the action with our recording of the panel session:

STEM in Schools virtual classroom 2017

 

 

[Image appears of inset screens showing the six speakers on the left of the screen and a view of a satellite dish lit up in the night sky in the centre screen and text appears above: STEM in Schools will start soon]

 

Mary Mulcahy: Good morning everybody and welcome to the STEM in Schools Virtual Classroom.

 

[Image appears of a photograph of Mary Mulcahy wearing a red hard hat and text appears: Mary Mulcahy, Director of Education, CSIRO]

 

I’m Mary Mulcahy, Director of CSIRO’s Education and Outreach Programme. We’re excited to have so many of you with us today. We have more than 300 schools joining us today from all over the country and this morning I’m calling in from Gunderoo Public School.

 

[Applause can be heard and the image shows Bernie Hobbs inset on the left laughing]

 

To begin, I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land that we’re meeting on across the country today and pay my respects to Elders past and present.

 

I now want to introduce our MC for the Virtual Classroom. She’s an award-winning science writer and broadcaster with ABC Science. She’s well known as a judge from the ABC TV’s, The New Inventors, and is a popular commentator on ABC Radio around the country. Please make welcome, Bernie Hobbs.

 

[Image changes to show the six inset screens enlarging and the six speakers appearing in two rows of three and Bernie Hobbs can be seen waving in the top right of the screen and then laughing]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Hi. Where’s the applause Gunderoo?

 

[Applause can be heard]

 

[Image shows Bernie talking while the other five speakers listen and then the image shows Bernie gesturing towards the picture of the night sky behind her]

 

Thanks so much Mary and I am so excited to be here in Canberra with this very strange set up of having almost 400 schools around the country, having five space experts, you can see them, from all around the place, including on the other side of the world, and just so I don’t feel completely lonely here in Canberra, that’s not a real night sky.

 

[The inset image of Bernie pans around to show the live studio audience waving]

 

We’re actually in a studio and here’s our live studio audience and they’re going to say good day.

 

Audience: Good day.

 

Bernie Hobbs: Give them some Canberra spirit.

 

[Image moves back to show Bernie and then pans around to show the tech team waving]

 

Audience: Yay.

 

[Applause can be heard]

 

Bernie Hobbs: The nation’s capital are very excited about STEM in Schools today and about seeing the back end of machinery. So, if anything goes wrong they’re going to be feeling very bad. So, give them some love now.

 

[Applause can be heard]

 

[Image moves back to show Bernie and then the image moves around to show Ellie waving and then the image moves back to show Bernie talking again while the other speakers listen]

 

OK and the other back end there, Ellie, all right great. So, now that you know how the mystery of television works, I want to introduce you to our five panellists.

 

[Image shows Solange Cunin positioned in the middle of the bottom row of speakers waving to the camera]

 

So, let’s start with, we can go, starting in order of where they’re coming from, down in the bottom right-hand corner, that’s Solange Cunin, just wave Solange, and you can speak as well.

 

[Image shows Solange speaking to the camera while the others listen]

 

Solange Cunin: Hi everyone. So, I’m actually in Sydney Opera House right now, so, if you hear any background noise.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera while the others listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: What a bit of a name dropper you are, as well as a space legend, Solange. So, you’ve actually… I’ll just do a quick round up so everyone knows who everyone is and then I’ll come back to you one at a time. But above Solange is Kimberley Clayfield and Kimberley you’re in Brisbane.

 

[Image shows Kimberley inset in the bottom left corner of the screen next to Solange and the image shows Kimberley speaking]

 

Kimberley Clayfield: That’s right. Hi everyone.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera and then Professor Celine D’Orgeville in the bottom right corner on Solange’s other side]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Yep, and then down and in the middle we’ve got Professor Celine D’Orgeville. And Celine you’re coming in from…?

 

[Image shows Celine talking to the camera while the others listen]

 

Celine D’Orgeville: I’m in Canberra, at the Mt Stromlo Observatory. Welcome everybody.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera and the image shows Jason Held in the top left corner waving to the camera]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Oh at Mt Stromlo… perfect, so that’s at an actual telescope. Up in the top left-hand corner, we’ve got Jason Held, with his own backdrop of something very spacey there and Jason’s coming in from Sydney. So, hi Jason.

 

[Image shows Jason talking to the camera while the others listen]

 

Jason Held: How are you going, everybody.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera and then the image shows Paolo de Suza in the top middle of the screen next to Bernie, waving at the camera]

 

Bernie Hobbs: And not to be outdone, in the bottom left-hand corner is Paolo de Suza and Paolo is coming in not from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, not from New Zealand, not from Hawaii.

 

[Image shows Paolo laughing as Bernie continues to talk to the camera]

 

Paolo is coming from the Amazon, which now comes equipped with beautifully decked out bedrooms and you know nice bits of plasterwork and art. So, it’s come a long way since those movies we saw as kids.

 

So, if we can just come around one at a time and get to know each of you a bit. So, what’s happening today, is like Mary said, we’ve got almost 400 schools taking part right around the country. All of our experts are in different places.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking while the others all smile and laugh]

 

I’m not sure if you’ve heard the term “epic fail” but the potential for an epic fail when you’ve got that many schools, relying on the internet connection and all of this is pretty astronomical, to use an appropriate term for today. So, we are working really hard to make sure this goes great.

 

What we’re going to do, the schools have been sending in questions and we’ve picked eight of our favourite questions and we’re going to put those questions to our experts here, so everyone here works in space, in the space industry, in Australia, around the world. And so, we’re going to hear all these great different things and experiences from our experts, everyone except me. OK, I work at the ABC which is, you know, sitting at a computer like everyone else. But all the other people have these great space-based jobs.

 

[Image shows Bernie continuing to talk to the camera while the others listen]

 

So, we’re going to put your questions to them. So, we’re going to switch over and hear from kids in schools right around the country and get answers from here as well. But before we do that, we just want to hear from each of our experts. So, we’re going to start… this is not necessarily in order of age but we are starting with by far the youngest, Solange Cunin. Solange, you are… is this right, are you really 24?

 

[Image shows Solange smiling and then talking to the camera]

 

Solange Cunin: Yep, that seems to be.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera and the other panellists laughing]

 

Bernie Hobbs: OK because you look about 11, OK. So, you’re certainly ageing very well. And so tell us, you run this programme called Cuberider, which I know some of the kids in some of the schools will have heard of because some of their experiments just ended up on the International Space Station, thanks, thanks to you. So, can you tell us a bit about how at 24, you ended up running your own business that helps kids get experiments on NASA vehicles up in space?

 

[Image shows Solange talking while the rest of the panellists and Bernie listen]

 

Solange Cunin: Yeah, sure. So, for any of you guys that did watch the News this week or just browse the internet as you do and saw a Space X rocket go up, that had a whole bunch of Australian student experiments go up from our programme which is very exciting. And it’s really quite simple, it’s just a bit of rocket science.

 

[Image shows Bernie laughing and Solange continuing to talk while the others listen]

 

It’s just as simple as that. No really, it’s a lot of effort, an international effort. We have partners across the world to make it happen. We’re the only Australians to have access, to have you know, hardware and infrastructure on the space station.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera while the others listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: So, if you are in Australia and you want to get stuff up on the International Space Station, you’ve got to go through you, through Cuberider, through the 24-year-old gatekeeper.

 

[Image shows Solange laughing and then talking while the others listen]

 

Solange Cunin: Well, the only people who have access are our students. So, you know, our students are the pioneering, ISS scientists at this point for Australia. It is very exciting.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking while the others listen and then Bernie cheers and punches into the air]

 

Bernie Hobbs: It’s fantastic and I want to give a shout out to one school who is with us today who actually got their experiment up there. Doonside Technology, let’s hear it for Doonside Technology.

 

[Applause can be heard and Solange and Celine can be seen clapping while the others smile]

 

[Image continues to show Bernie talking to the camera while the others smile and listen]

 

And we will give some more shout outs during the rest of the morning but yeah, we just want to make sure we don’t make the NBN fall in a burning heap somewhere in the middle of the country in the meantime. So, thanks for that Solange. We’ll get to you with some questions a bit later.

 

Now, Celine, out at Mount Stromlo there. You are a space scientist with a real interest in lasers, and I mean space and lasers, it’s all pretty sci-fi but I found out this morning that you do a thing called Laser Guide Star which just sounds absolutely incredible. It helps our telescopes on the ground here take pictures as good as the Hubble does. Can you tell us what it is that you do?

 

[Image shows Celine talking to the camera while the others all listen]

 

Celine D’Orgeville: Sure. So, my specialty is building artificial stars in the sky using lasers. So, what you do is that you use a ground-based telescope, propel the laser through the atmosphere and that uses a very special colour, its wavelength, that’s the way its called, exactly the colour you need to [08.29] some of the atoms which are located about a 100 km above the ground. And when you [8.33] the atoms with laser they glow and they create an artificial star.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera and pointing upwards while the others all listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: So, hang on a minute. Your job is to make fake stars up in the night sky, only 100 km up, is that kind of dangerous?

 

[Image shows Celine talking to the camera while the others all listen]

 

Celine D’Orgeville: No, it’s actually not dangerous but we do have to pay attention to passing aircrafts and we make sure we never hit them.

 

[Image shows Bernie laughing and then continuing to talk to the camera while the others listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Yeah, good call, good idea. Thank you. And so, when you’re doing that, the reason that you’re doing that is so the way the atmosphere affects the light coming from that fake star, it’s so you can understand what’s happening there and then you can use that to correct.

 

 

[Image shows Celine talking to the camera while the others all listen]

 

Celine D’Orgeville: Yes, that’s right. The reason we create those artificial stars is so that we can probe the atmospheric turbulence because that turbulence is detrimental to the work we do with ground- based telescopes. It messes our bioimages. That’s what makes the stars twinkle by the way, it’s the atmospheric turbulence but we want to remove that twinkle because really, it’s not the friend of the scientists doing astronomy.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera while the others all listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: You are taking the twinkle, twinkle out of little stars. That’s not very romantic Celine.

 

[Image shows Celine talking to the camera while the others all listen]

 

Celine D’Orgeville: I’m very sorry we’re doing that but we’re trying to replicate conditions as if we were in space and if you are in space the stars don’t twinkle.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera while the others all listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Oh, OK. I love it. It’s absolutely brilliant and you also work in Hawaii on this. So, you’ve had a bit of travel and I think that accent is not from Adelaide. So, I’m guessing you’ve travelled quite a bit in your career.

 

[Image shows Celine smiling and talking to the camera while the others all listen]

 

Celine D’Orgeville: Yes, I’m French originally and I’ve travelled through Hawaii and Chile before I came to Australia five years ago.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera while the others all listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Oh, fantastic. OK. Well, thanks so much and we’ll keep moving and introducing the rest of our special panel here today.

 

[Image shows Jason Held giving the thumbs up signal and laughing while Bernie continues to talk to the camera and punches the air]

 

We’re going to go up to the top left, to Jason Held there and Jason I love this, it’s hilarious, you are the CEO of Saber Astronautics, it’s the most space-agey crazy name for a company, Saber Astronautics. So, were you the kid who just grew up wanting to be Luke Skywalker?

 

[Image shows Jason talking to the camera while the others all listen]

 

Jason Held: Yeah, quite literally. People would say, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”. I’d say, “I just want to be a Jedi like my father”, kind of thing.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera while the others all listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Like your father, right!

 

[Image shows Jason talking to the camera while the others all listen]

 

Jason Held: Yeah, you know the [10.52], that’s the thing you know. So, you grew up wanting to do these things. I had very bad grades when I was in high school and I wasn’t the best undergraduate student either and I didn’t find my academic life until a few years later.

 

And you know, sometimes like, you don’t realise it, but you actually, your brain does develop even into your twenties. So, when I was like 17, 18, I was a smart kid but it was hard to focus and then when I got older I could focus and then I was able to do all these things that I’d always wanted to do.

 

[Image shows Bernie raising her eyebrows as Jason talks]

 

So, you know, when I was 17, 18, people said, you know, “You’re not going to make it doing anything in life, so you might as well apply for like a community college or something you can do”.

 

[Image continues to show Jason talking and the others listening]

 

And I was just too bull headed to say no and I kept going and was able to do quite a few very exciting things later. So, that’s the story.

 

[Image shows Jason leaning forwards and putting his finger out in a pointing motion]

 

And don’t let anybody tell you, no, kids.

 

[Image shows Bernie laughing and then copying Jason’s pointing motion and talking to the camera]

 

Bernie Hobbs: You’re a little bit freaky when you do that Jason, but I like it. What are you doing, with Saber Aeronautics, what sort of stuff are you doing?

 

[Image shows Jason talking to the camera while the others all listen]

 

Jason Held: Saber Astronautics is making the next generation of space control software. So, our software, it controls satellites, it allows you to see when the International Space Station’s overhead. Australian companies are using our software to design missions of like 100 satellite constellations. The Australian Airforce has picked us up because you know, our technology is good for their operations and US Airforce is looking at us as well.

 

So, we’re looking at kind of an interesting time right now. Everybody’s launching smaller satellites and you know, listen to what Solange says, kids like yourself can actually get involved and we’re seeing the same sort of thing in the United States. So, you know the number of satellites is increasing. So, like thousands of satellites are going up so you need space traffic control now and nobody’s actually doing space traffic control, not even, not even like [12.56] is doing space traffic control the way it needs to be done. So, that’s what we’re looking at, solving somebody’s problems.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera while the others all listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Wow, it’s amazing isn’t it, that, like a lot of people don’t even think that there’s a space industry in Australia but you’re all here, working in it and making it happen. It’s fantastic. Now, Kimberley Clayfield, you’re at CSIRO and you head up the, the Astronomy Science Section there and Jason just mentioned smaller and smaller satellites and I know that that’s something that, that you’re part involved in is Cubesat. Can you tell us a bit about that?

 

[Image shows Kimberley talking to the camera while the others all listen]

 

Kimberley Clayfield: Yeah, so I’m actually managing a new technical programme, which we’re working on in collaboration with Australian industry and with other research partners to develop new sensors and data processing systems which are suitable for very small satellites like Cubesat.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera while the others all listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: So, how big is Cubesat?

 

[Image shows Kimberley talking to the camera while the others all listen]

 

Kimberley Clayfield: So, the basic size of a Cubesat is a 10 cm cube. So, about the size of one litre of milk but you can group them together to create larger satellites too.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera and then laughing while the others all listen and laugh]

 

Bernie Hobbs: And do not try drinking Cubesat. No. Don’t have them on your cereal. You’re also running, or you’re really involved in the Square Kilometre Array and I know we’ve got some schools in WA and they would be all across this but can you tell the rest of us a little, just a little bit about the Square Kilometre Array and what it’s doing?

 

[Image shows Kimberley talking to the camera while the others all listen and Solange looks upwards and smiles]

 

Kimberley Clayfield: Yeah, so, the Square Kilometre Array or the SKA is part of our radio astronomy activity in CSIRO. We run a number of radio telescopes and the newest one that we’ve built is called the Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder or ASKAP which is in Western Australia and it’s an array of 36 separate antennas that are all linked together to act as a single telescope with an extremely wide view of the sky.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera and putting up her hands and moving them in sync together to the left]

 

Bernie Hobbs: And so that’s the kind of thing, that’s the kind of thing when you see them and they all go, zhhhh, at the same time, they all move around. It’s very cool. Yeah.

 

[Image shows Kimberley talking to the camera]

 

Kimberley Clayfield: That’s right, that’s right and this is going to be a test bed for the science that will eventually be done by the Square Kilometre Array itself which is an international project to build the world’s largest radio telescope.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera]

 

Bernie Hobbs: And because we’ve got such great dark skies in that part of Western Australia and such radio silence out there we were a really good place to build it. So, it’s really exciting stuff and augurs well for our space science future in Australia. Yeah.

 

[Image shows Paolo smiling and then laughing as Bernie talks]

 

Now, now, we’re going to go very far afield. We’re going to go to Brazil to the Amazon River which I never thought would like anything like this but the reason Paolo de Suza that the Amazon looks like a hotel room is because you’re in a hotel room right near the Amazon River and that’s because it’s 10 pm there. So, we don’t get to see any day time views but you did have a photo of you training. You can show us what it’s like where you are in the daytime.

 

[Image shows Paolo smiling and then holding up a photograph of himself with two buffaloes on a beach and then talking to the camera]

 

Paolo de Suza: The outside looks like this, with buffaloes in the back.

 

[Image shows Bernie laughing and talking to the camera while the others smile and listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: On every beach in Brazil there are buffaloes and astronomical scientists as well. Now, Paolo, I mean, I know some of us will have heard of things like the Square Kilometre Array and satellites, some of us, well definitely we’ve all heard of light sabers and I’m intrigued about making these fake stars to give better pictures that Celine does and of course Solange’s entrepreneurial feat to get high school kids from Australia getting their experiments up on little pioneer satellites up on, well that kind of thing up on the Space Station but I reckon everyone, am I right, in the room here, has everyone heard of the Mars Rover Missions?

 

[Image shows Bernie talking while the others nod their heads and then the camera on the inset image of Bernie swings around to show the studio audience and then back to Bernie talking again]

 

Yep, they’re nodding their head fiercely. Nod those heads for everyone. Oh, yes, yes. We’ve all heard of the Mars Rover and you actually worked on the Mars Rover Mission. Can you tell us what you did?

 

[Image shows Paolo talking to the camera]

 

Paolo de Suza: Well, I helped to develop mount of one of the sensors that is on the robotic arm of that Rover on the surface of Mars today.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Wow, so, and they’re still there. Those little guys, spirit and opportunity, walking around.

 

[Image shows Paolo talking to the camera]

 

Paolo de Suza: Yeah, one of them is still at work for six years and [17.46] is still working as we speak. So, we got the first images from Mars this morning.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Oh really, did you see anything new? Were there any Martians doing a selfie or…?

 

[Image shows Paolo talking to the camera]

 

Paolo de Suza: Look that’s secret. If I tell you, I have to kill you after.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera, rolling her eyes and then disappearing off the screen and then reappearing and laughing]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Yeah, well, you don’t know where I am so…

 

[Image shows Paolo holding up a satellite image of Mars and then talking to the camera]

 

Paolo de Suza: That’s the first image. Well, you can see a little bit of the Rover there, the landscape. Yeah. It’s just the image.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera and laughing]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Man, your junk mail is way more interesting than mine, I tell you. You’re getting sent live images of Mars. That’s absolutely fantastic. One other thing that you’re doing and this, this is what I love about it because you guys work in all sorts of different areas and you know, Kimberley you started as a Mechanical Engineer and you were just obsessed with this big gear and you love it.

 

Solange, your, your background is also in aeronautical engineering. There’s all this crazy stuff, photonics for Celine. Paolo, you’ve been working in space, space, space but then you made this, you made this other thing that’s got nothing to do with space. So, if we’ve got some people there who are like, space, yeah, whatever, I can’t imagine that’s true of anyone, but if we do, Paolo is, has also made this amazing thing which I’m going to show you right now and I have to be very careful because it’s extremely tiny and whoops, dropped it, nothing.

 

[Image shows Bernie holding up a speck on her fingertip and talking to the camera]

 

Can you see, there’s a… whoops, tiny little speck on the end of my finger.

 

[Image shows Bernie holding up her Smartphone and showing a photo of the chip on her finger as she talks]

 

Now, it’s not well focussed so I took a photo of it earlier and that little tiny chip, see that photo, so that’s how big my finger really is, that chip, hilarious, it’s a backpack for a bee. So, it’s so that parent bees can keep track of their young bee children and know where they are at all times and if they really went to their… no, it’s so people can study what bees are doing, where they’re flying, what they’re doing around the hive, learn more and more about bees.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking and then laughing]

 

I probably should let you tell the story Paolo but I’m so excited that you’ve made this backpack for a bee. So, you were doing that work in Australia, tell us a bit about it, if I haven’t already blown it.

 

[Image shows Paolo talking to the camera while the others listen]

 

Paolo de Suza: We developed the technology the same way we developed space technology. So, there are a number of constraints for us. So, it’s the mass, it’s the weight, of course the mass of this device we can put on a bee. It can’t be too heavy. It’s just the same as we do with mini Cubes we send to space. The amount of power that you can generate and it can consume. There are a number of constraints that we have to look after when we develop space technology and the very same way we developed this microchip to put on the back of bees and there are bees with backpack, then you can follow them as they fly and then you can understand better how they react to the environment, to the presence of pesticides, pathogens, a number of pests, many other things and this way we try to help, understanding why the population of bees are going through a collapse and how we can help to increase the number and to continue to flourish.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera while Paolo nods and the others listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: And that’s what you’re doing in the Amazon right now, is studying the bees there. It’s fantastic. I mean do people just, do people think you’re just making it up because really you could just cut out any bit of alfoil and say, “Yeah, no it’s a sensor for the back of a bee” because no one can tell what it is.

 

[Image shows Paolo talking while the others listen]

 

Paolo de Suza: Yes, we could.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera while the others listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Yeah, and the best part about it, it doesn’t have its own little battery. What powers it?

 

[Image shows Paolo talking while the others listen]

 

Paolo de Suza: It’s the movement of the bee. As the bee moves around, it, you know it vibrates and that vibration is enough to power the sensor to store that energy in a small micro battery that we developed at CSIRO and that can be used then by the sensor to make measurements and to do things for us.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera and raising her hand to indicate a measurement while the others listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: OK. So, I think that’s just about you know absolutely peaked on the cool meter here today. Can we hear, what do we think of the backpacks for bees?

 

[Camera swings around to show the studio audience clapping and then the image moves back to show Bernie talking again while the others all smile and listen]

 

Audience: Yeah great.

 

Bernie Hobbs: And everything else? Yeah, yeah. We’re going to do some shout outs as well. OK, so now look, I’ve been raving on because I do get a little bit hyper excited. I mean for starters it’s Science Week and I’m just having a total nerd alert but also hearing all these great stories is great but we need to get to your questions at different schools. So, I need to know if we’re ready to open the, OK, Virtual Classroom has now begun,

 

OK. So, we’re ready to have, hear from your questions. But first of all we’re going to do a couple of shout outs OK just to make sure we’ve, it’s like a roll call. We probably won’t shout out for all 380 schools at once but if we can just do them one at a time.

 

[Image shows Bernie smiling and putting her hand behind her ear in a listening symbol as she talks]

 

So, for no reason other than it’s a great name, do we have anyone here from Burnie High School. Burnie are your there? Can you give us a shout out?

 

[Applause can be heard]

 

[Image shows Bernie laughing and then talking to the camera again]

 

Alright, go Burnie High School. Best name ever. OK and we also are going to Kingsford-Smith School which I know we are definitely not going to Kingsford-Smith School. Do you want me to show you what the team just did then?

 

[Camera swings around to show the tech team in the background waving and then the camera swings back to show Bernie talking again]

 

Female: Quick, turn the cam.

 

[Image shows Bernie laughing and then talking]

 

Bernie Hobbs: But, you know, you’ve not been misbehaving Kingsford-Smith. We’re just, you know, maybe there was a little internet bouncing there. What about Nossal High School. OK, can we hear from Nossal High School?

 

[Image shows Bernie putting her hand behind her ear in a listening symbol and then laughing]

 

Are you there Nossal High School?

 

[Applause can be heard]

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera and then the camera swings around to show the studio audience cheering]

 

Oh that’s good, I thought it was a school for robots when I heard those beeps at the start. That’s fantastic.

 

OK, Canberra South High School, who’s better, Canberra or Nossal?

 

[Shouting can be heard]

[Camera swings back to show Bernie talking while the others listen]

 

Nossal, really are you going to let them get away with that. Oh we might have muted you, yeah sorry, Canberra’s better clearly. OK. So, now that’s enough of the energy upping, now we’re going to get to some real questions.

 

So, our first question is an absolutely brilliant one. I love that we’re getting straight into it here.

 

[Image changes to show the six people inset on the left side of the screen and a map pinpointing Radford College beneath the text: National Science Week 2017, STEM in Schools, Radford College, ACT, Question, How do black holes work? How are they formed?]

 

Now we’re going to Radford College and the teacher there is Rekekah Kashmir, but we probably don’t need to know that. So, can you see that pin, that’s where Radford College is and the student that we’re hearing from at Radford College is, are you ready to ask your question now?

 

Yep. Thumbs up, we’re ready for you Radford, come in.

 

Student 1: So, my question is, how do black holes work and how are they formed?

 

Bernie Hobbs: Oh, that’s a very small question. Very easy, everyone knows the answer to that, not. Thank you for that question. That’s fantastic. How do black holes work and how do they form? Who would we like to go to for that one, I think, Kimberley, are you up for some black hole questions? Right, about now, getting the thumbs up from Kimberley. Go ahead Kimberley.

 

[Image changes to show the six inset people on the screen again and the image shows Kimberley talking to the camera while the others listen]

 

Kimberley Clayfield: Great question. So, first of all I’ll start by saying, we still don’t actually know exactly how black holes work or how they’re formed because it’s difficult to study them because we can’t actually see them. We can only see the effect that they have on things around them but the current theory on how they form is like this, that eventually all stars will reach the end of their life when they’ve burned up all their fuel. And when this happens the outer layer of the star gets blasted outwards and the core of the star collapses in on itself and depending on how big the star was to start with, the collapsed centre can form a white dwarf star or a neutron star of if the star was very, very massive to start with, the outer layer explodes in a supernova and the core collapses to form a black hole.

 

Now, a black hole, is not actually a hole. It’s a collection of matter, it’s that collapsed core of the dead star that is so dense, and so heavy that the gravity fields that it generates is so strong that nothing can escape from it, not even light. And after a black hole has formed, it’s gravity will continue to attract mass from around it. So, the black hole will continue to grow.

 

It will absorb other stars around it and it will merge with other black holes around it and when it does that it can form a super massive black hole, and scientists believe that super massive black holes exist in the centres of most galaxies including our own galaxy, the Milky Way. And last year you might have heard the announcement of the very first detection of gravity waves. These gravity waves are sent rippling across the universe when two black holes collide which makes them quite a rare event and very exciting to have finally measured them.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera and then making munching signs with her hands while the others listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Yeah, it was an amazing and outstanding thing. Now, one thing, if there’s a super massive black hole at the centre of our galaxy is it going to keep munching its way through all the stars until it reaches the sun?

 

[Image shows Kimberley talking to the camera while the others listen]

 

Kimberley Clayfield: In theory, but I think that would take an extremely long time. I don’t think we have anything to worry about.

 

[Image shows Bernie laughing and then talking to the camera while Kimberley laughs and the others listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: And maybe that whole acceleration thing, maybe we can outrun it. I don’t think it quite works that way but we’ll have to rely on time. And also Celine, there’s no danger that your little fake stars, 100 kilometres up are going to collapse to form black holes, no danger of that, no risk?

 

[Image show Celine talking and then smiling]

 

Celine D’Orgeville: No, my stars are very safe.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking again and then clapping and the others smiling]

 

Bernie Hobbs: OK, good. Glad to hear it. Just double checking. I didn’t think so but some people here were quite concerned, you know. That’s so great. So, let’s give them a hand. OK, technology has failed to epic fail.

 

[Image changes to show the six people inset on the left side of the screen and a map pinpointing St Michael’s Primary School in the centre beneath the text: National Science Week 2017, STEM in Schools, St Michael’s Catholic Primary School, NSW, What is the most interesting experience you have encountered as a space professional]

 

So, we’re very impressed with that. Question 2 comes from St Michael’s Catholic Primary School and we’re going to see where that is on the map here. Oh, OK, St Michael’s which looks like it’s a bit south of Sydney. So, yeah, it’s round, yeah it’s somewhere in Sydney there. OK, so, we’re going to say a big hello to St Michael’s and the teacher there is Sarah Buckland and our question from St Michael’s…

 

[Applause can be heard]

 

Hello, go St Michael’s. Yeah, alright. And we’re ready for your question, what is it?

 

Student 2: What is the most interesting or funny experience you have encountered as a space professional?

 

Bernie Hobbs: OK. I reckon we can go to a few of them here. The most interesting or funny experience as a space professional, Paolo have you got any stories there?

 

[Image changes back to show the six people inset into two rows on the screen and the image shows Paolo talking to the camera while the others listen]

 

Paolo de Suza: Yeah, I think I have two interesting stories. The first one was when we saw, from Mars we saw earth. That was a very interesting sighting. You can imagine because Mars is half of the size of earth and you would see then, Mars, from Mars you would see earth, double of the size that you would see Mars from here.

 

So, that was really nice and we have a very popular programme on here, in Australia. We have sunrise, then we have earth rise. It’s very popular on Mars. So, you can see earth going through the sky, it’s beautiful. And, but because we have two moons on Mars, Deimos and Phobos and we have the sun, we might be eventually, be able to see an eclipse and guess what, we saw an eclipse on Mars.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Oh wow.

 

[Image shows Paolo talking while the others listen]

 

Paolo de Suza: You might be able to look at Youtube and just check Phobos eclipse on Mars and you would see the eclipse happening there. That was amazing, to get the eyes off the Rover and put it up in the sky and do what we would do here, just like our telescopes you would see things. It’s fantastic, it’s been an interesting experience.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking while the others listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Fantastic. That’s great. What about you Jason?

 

[Image shows Jason talking to the camera while the others smile and listen and Celine has a drink of water]

 

Jason Held: Oh, you know, I don’t have anything nearly as cool as taking a look at Mars from earth but we do have, we’ve had a lot of fun with parabolic flight. You know, so getting in the Astronaut Trainer. For some of our products we made a electrodynamic tether deployer that could drag a satellite down at the end of its mission so it’s not space junk. And we had to test it on the Astronaut Trainer.

 

[Image shows Jason putting out his arms as he talks as if he is floating]

 

So, we, you get in on this thing, you actually feel like an astronaut because you’re floating around, and you’re, you’re testing out your hardware and we did a couple of… so what it is, it’s a normal aircraft and they scrape away half the seats and pad the walls, alright.

 

[Image shows Jason moving his arm in an arc as he talks and then pushing his head back with his hands, then putting his arms up as if he is floating and the others can be seen listening]

 

So, it flies in a parabolic… it’s great, it flies like a roller coaster, it flies in this parabolic arc and you’re in… when you’re climbing and the aircraft’s climbing you’re literally plastered to the back of your seat like this, like in a roller coaster and then it gets to the top and you start going into a controlled free fall and you’re literally floating around for 30 seconds like you’re Homer Simpson, alright.

 

And it’s, they have a few parabolas they do at the beginning and the end of the flight where you’re in Martian gravity or Lunar gravity and you get to test how it feels bouncing around and yeah that was, that was a lot of fun and we had another experiment that we did, which we made a beer you could drink in space, and we had to actually test that, not for the kids, right, it’s not for the kids, but same programme for adults and we had to… we were testing this to see how the alcohol, the human body responds to alcohol absorption in micro gravity because you’re going to have space tourists some day and they’re going to do these things so you have to investigate to see what’s actually safe and healthy. Does that number change, depending on whether you in zero gravity or not? So, we actually had to you know, float around and drink beer while floating around in zero gravity. So, it was the most fun we ever had in doing this sort of thing.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking while the others listen and smile]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Your job just sounds like hell. Like it just sounds very, very...

 

[Image shows Jason talking to the camera]

 

Jason Held: It’s really rough, I tell you, I know, I know, I’ll quit at any moment now. No, it’s great. It’s a lot of fun.

 

[Image shows Bernie making an arc with her hand as she continues to talk]

 

Bernie Hobbs: And I’m pretty sure, doesn’t that, the parabolic flight thing, isn’t its nickname the Vomit Comet?

 

[Image shows Jason talking while the others laugh and then continue to listen]

 

Jason Held: Yeah, for very good reason. So, people get sick frequently. Actually 10% of the human population is really susceptible to micro gravity sickness which is a cousin to sea sickness and air sickness. So, if you’re the type of person who gets seasick or air sick, you might also get, you know but it’s not always the same. So, you know, what happens, the inner ear is looking for gravity and there is none and your body just responds differently. So, you have to make sure that you’re not susceptible to it.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera and the others listening]

 

Bernie Hobbs: OK, I know we’re taking quite a long time on this one but just one quick one, she’s saying “Wrap up, wrap up”. But Celine have you had any amazing or funny things happen at work?

 

[Image shows Celine talking to the camera while the others listen]

 

Celine D’Orgeville: Well, I’ll make it short. I’m just going to talk about my first job when I was working in Hawaii. So, all the observatories are located on top of the biggest mountain on the Big Island, it’s called the Big Island of Hawaii and that mountain is Mauna Kea, it’s 4,200 metres high. So, even though you’re under the tropics you can have snow up there. Every time there’s a big storm there’s a dump of snow, fresh snow and I had the opportunity to go skiing on top of Mauna Kea in Hawaii in the morning and then I was on the beach at the end of the day in the afternoon. It was pretty cool.

 

[Image shows Bernie smiling and talking to the camera]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Yeah, no, your job sounds like it sucks too. No, that sounds fantastic. OK, I was being a bit indulgent there sorry and I want to get on to some more questions now. So, if we can go to Question 3 and this question comes from Parkside Primary.

 

[Image changes to show the six people inset on the left side of the screen and a map pinpointing Parkside Primary School in the centre beneath the text: National Science Week 2017, STEM in Schools, Parkside Primary School, SA, What is involved in the process of creating a space mission]

 

Are you ready Parkside? We’ll see where you are first. OK, so you’re in South Australia, you’re in or near Adelaide, and can we hear you yet Parkside?

 

[Applause can be heard]

 

No we can’t hear that at all, give us a bit more Parkside.

 

[Applause can be heard]

 

Go the Crows, yeah. OK. So, the teacher of Parkside Primary is Simone Segat and the question coming from one of the kids at Parkside, can we hear your question now?

 

Cynthia: Hi, I’m Cynthia from Adelaide and my question is, what is involved in the process of creating a space mission?

 

[Image changes to show the six people inset into two rows on the screen again and Bernie talking to the camera]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Oh, the process of creating a space mission, I reckon we’re going to start with you Solange because you are, you piggy back on space missions for a living. So, can you tell us, can you tell us a bit about that?

[Image shows Solange talking to the camera while the others all listen]

 

Solange Cunin: Yeah, sure, so I guess there’s a couple of different things that you have to do in parallel. So, the first one is you have to do all the technology side of things and actually all the engineering and science and make sure you’re going to survive the launch and all the vibrations of a big rocket and then survive space which is another layer of complexity.

 

So, you’ve got to do all the tech side of it and then at the same time, you also have to do all the legal side of it and so that’s, both at a national level and an international level because once you go into space you’re on international ground. So, it’s two levels of legal stuff there. And then you know, you also have to go through at the same time and kind of crisscrossing between those two and going through a whole engineering and science process of making sure you’re meeting all the right requirements.

 

So, whenever you do a space mission, you’re working with lots of other organisations. So, for instance we work with, we’ve got partners in America. We work with NASA. We work with the ISS and so we’ve got requirements that we have to match.

 

[Image shows Bernie interjecting while Solange talks]

 

Bernie Hobbs: The International Space Station.

 

[Image shows Solange nodding and then continuing to talk]

 

Solange Cunin: Yeah, that’s right. The International Space Station. So, we’ve got to make sure that our technology and our space mission fits within the requirements of all of those different organisations that help us have that space mission. And so, you have to do all those three things in parallel or get your school to come and do our programme.

 

[Image shows Bernie laughing and then talking to the camera and the others listening]

 

Bernie Hobbs: OK, there is an Option B, Option B you’ll have done all the paperwork already. Everything is stitched up and signed up and you’re ready to go, that’s great. So, Paolo, you’ve obviously been involved in space missions with the Mars Rover. Is there anything you want to add to what Solange said?

 

[Image shows Paolo talking to the camera while the others listen]

 

Paolo de Suza: Yeah, I think if I take one step back, I would think about, imagine that you are scientist and you have a chance to do something in a cool place like Mars, what would you do, which kind of instruments you need to bring to answer the questions you have. And that is where the mission starts. It starts with big questions. For example, was Mars once wet? Was their life on Mars? Is there life there?

 

We don’t know and that is what is driving us to discover, to explore the planet and to send the special instruments there. So, we need to send there for example geologists. Geologists is our robots that are Rovers that are able to make measurements just like geologists, looking at rocks and looking at the soil and the properties of the atmosphere and trying to answer that question.

 

So, you can understand which kind of instruments that you need to develop to go through all that Solange has been telling us about, the requirements, and all the tests that you have to go through and your instrument must survive the launch, the land, and all the travel through space to do exactly what you are planning to do.

 

And then you have all the operations and all the capability, all scientists from so many areas. We have biologists, physicists, chemisists, geologists, mathematicians, computer scientists, all those engineers working there together to make that happen and it’s not like an endeavour of one. We have seven kinds of people from different areas, working together to make that happen. You need to be a big team to work together.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking while the others listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Well, it sounds fun. The really fun bit sounds like that bit right at the start where you’re just thinking big about what can possibly happen but I love that no matter what kind of science you’re in to, if you’re also into space you can turn it into a space science job. So, that’s great. Thanks Solange and Paolo for answering that one.

 

And I feel like we need to have a few more shout outs. I just want to check the roll you know. The rules are very firm here at CSIRO as well. We do need to do a roll call. So, here is another great name, not that it’s Burnie, it’s another great name for a school. Do we have anyone here from Orroroo Area School. Do we have Orroroo Area School?

 

[Image shows Bernie putting her hand behind her ear in a listening symbol and then laughing]

 

Muted.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera while the other listen and smile]

 

No, they’re there. They’re there but OK we might come back to Orroroo. OK how about… I already mentioned these guys before. Now, it’s time. we’re going to go to Doonside Technology High and they are one of the schools that were in the News the other day because they were on Solange’s Cuberider Mission to take their experiments up in space. Doonside Technology High are you there?

 

[Image shows Bernie putting her hand behind her ear in a listening symbol and then laughing]

 

[Applause can be heard]

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera while the others laugh and listen]

 

Oh, good. I thought there was just one of you for a moment. No, it’s fantastic and congratulations. Are you pretty excited about getting your stuff up on the International Space Station? I don’t mean your stuff up, I mean getting your stuff up on the International Space Station.

 

[Applause can be heard]

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera and the others listening]

 

I think that’s the safest answer, when in doubt, just scream. It always works. Well congratulations, and to the other six schools that also got their stuff up, their, their gear, their experiments up on the International Space Station. One more shout out and this one is to St Emily’s Catholic Primary School.

 

[Image shows Bernie putting her hand behind her ear in a listening symbol and then laughing]

 

Do we have St Emily’s Catholic Primary School?

 

[Applause can be heard]

 

[Image shows Bernie laughing and then talking while the others smile]

 

Is St Emily’s a girl’s school.

 

Students: No.

 

[Image show Bernie talking to the camera while the others listen and laugh]

 

Bernie Hobbs: OK. Thanks, sorry about that. Just needed to confirm. What excellent screamers. I think you would win the war cry competition at any interschool sports day.

 

[Image changes to show the six people inset on the left side of the screen and a map pinpointing Margate Primary School in the centre beneath the text: National Science Week 2017, STEM in Schools, Margate Primary School, TAS, What is space junk and is it a problem for the Earth?]

 

OK. We’re ripping through the questions here and our next question comes from Margate Primary School and we’re going to show you where Margate is, oh it’s in Tassie as well, at the opposite end from Burnie, my favourite school and the question from Margate, the teacher there is Suzanne Bevan, but we’re ready to hear your question Margate Primary. What is it?

 

Student 2: My question is what is space junk and is it a problem for earth?

 

Bernie Hobbs: Oh well, luckily we have someone here who is doing work in exactly this field.

 

[Image changes back to show the six people inset on the screen and Bernie talking to the camera while the others listen]

 

Celine D’Orgeville is doing, apart from you know, making her own fake stars just for the hell of it, and making better pictures through telescopes on earth, she’s also doing research in space junk. So, can you tell us about it Celine, what is it and is it a problem for us?

 

[Image shows Celine talking to the camera while the others listen]

 

Celine D’Orgeville: Alright, so space junk is basically space debris. That is stuff that is orbiting the earth which is [42.54], stuff that is left over from previous missions, so rocket bodies, things like that. Things that have been colliding with other stuff and creating more debris. It can be as small as a speck of paint coming off a rocket body and basically the problem with that space junk is that it’s going really fast in space and it has a lot of energy and if it collides with something else it can really damage that object or destroy it.

 

So, space junk is a big problem for the satellites that are orbiting the earth and which we are using, even though we don’t realise it we are using them in our everyday lives. So, we are using them for communications. We’re using them to receive internet, TV, bank transfers, to study weather on earth, a lot of applications and it’s a big issue if one of these debris collides with one of the satellites because then you lose capability immediately. Obviously it costs a lot of money but it also can have a big impact on your everyday life.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera while the others listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Yeah, so obviously we’ll be using some Wi-Fi today, and I might just mention if you didn’t already know it, that Wi-Fi, every time you use Wi-Fi, that’s because CSIRO’s scientists invented Wi-Fi, and not CSIRO IT scientists or computer scientists, CSIRO space scientists, invented Wi-Fi.

 

So, everything that’s going on that you’ve ever used Wi-Fi for, just say a little humble, thank you CSIRO. Say it with me now, thank you CSIRO. OK. I think I just doubled my fee for today. No, maybe one and a half. No, OK. So, there was one more question. You know you were talking about the tiny specks of dust flying really fast, how fast are we talking, like 10,000 kms an hour? Like what sort of speed are we talking about for these, for space junk?

 

[Image shows Celine leaning on her hand and talking to the camera while the others listen]

 

Celine D’Orgeville: Oh, I’m going to forget that number. I think it’s in the, it’s in the 1,000 kms per second.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera while the others listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Per second. A thousand kilometres per second. So, going from Brisbane to Rockhampton, or Brisbane to Sydney in one second.

 

[Image shows Celine talking while the others listen]

 

Celine D’Orgeville: If I’m not mistaken but maybe some of the other panel members know the exact answer to that question.

 

[Image shows Bernie shaking her head and talking]

 

Bernie Hobbs: No, they don’t. Look at them, they’re just sitting there going, don’t ask me, I don’t know. Jason?

 

[Image shows Jason, then Bernie, then Jason talking to the camera while the others listen]

 

Jason Held: Are you asking, are you asking how fast space junk flies? It’s eight kilometres a second, typically.

 

Bernie Hobbs: Eight kilometres.

 

Jason Held: Yeah, and the problem is that when you’re looking at it you know where it is within a kilometre, right. So, it’s not a danger to earth per se. It can’t hurt anybody else here but it can hurt other things in space. So, everything we’re talking about, Wi-Fi and satellites that help us navigate, if one of those satellites gets hit by this piece of junk, and then it could destroy the satellite or it could do some damage and then you can’t get, you can’t get your Netflix and then life ends because you can’t get your Netflix or something like that.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera while the others listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Oh hang on a minute, oh now it’s really serious.

 

[Image shows Jason talking to the camera while the others listen]

 

Jason Held: If I don’t get my “Game of Thrones” on Monday, there’s going to be some serious pain, you know, so…

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera while the others listen and laugh]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Yeah, I feel your pain. We’re at the last episode of “Orange is the New Black” and oh my God. OK. So 8 km/sec, so six eights are 48. So, that’s almost 500 kms a minute. So, that is going from Brisbane to Sydney in two minutes. That is crazy fast. OK. So, that’s my tricky little extra question in there. Thanks so much Celine and Jason for that one.

 

[Image changes to show the six people inset on the left side of the screen and a map with an upside down pinpoint pointing to Kormilda College in the centre beneath the text: National Science Week 2017, STEM in Schools, Kormilda College, NT, What is the difference between astronomy and space science]

 

OK. Now, here’s a question from Kormilda College and it’s one that I didn’t really know myself. Oh, is everything upside down in the Northern Territory because the pin has turned into a little tear drop? Sad face, Kormilda College, are you there Kormilda? Make sure you’re not sad, tell us how happy you are. Kormilda College. Can you shout back us at Kormilda, we can’t hear you? No, OK. So, we might come back to that question.

 

[Image shows Teddy standing on the left of Bernie in one of the inset squares to the left]

 

Yeah, but no I tell you what, Teddy can I get you to come and ask this question, come up here, my man. This is Teddy. You’re in Year 12 so you’re doing it tough this year with all your final exams pressing. So, ducking out of school for a couple of hours to help us out. So, we’re sorry Kormilda College, but what school are you at Teddy?

 

[Image shows Teddy and Bernie in conversation on the small inset square]

 

Teddy: Erindale College.

 

Bernie Hobbs: Evandale College?

 

Teddy: Erindale College.

 

Bernie Hobbs: Erindale, is that in Canberra?

 

Teddy: Yep.

 

Bernie Hobbs: OK. Great. I’m from Brisbane. So, I know nothing about the names or anything. OK. So, would you just ask that question for us Teddy?

 

[Image shows Teddy talking to the camera on the inset square]

 

Teddy: So, the question is what is the difference between astronomy and space science?

 

Bernie Hobbs: What is the difference between astro…?

 

Teddy: Astronomy and space science.

 

[Image changes to show the six people inset on the screen again and Bernie talking while the others listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Oh nice word. Big round of applause for Teddy, standing in for Kormilda College there and I reckon we’re going to go to Kimberley for that one because I think this is your area. What’s the difference between space science and astronomy?

 

[Image shows Kimberley in the bottom left corner talking to the camera while the others listen]

 

Kimberley Clayfield: So, there is actually some overlap between the two but in very simple terms, the way I like to think of it is that astronomy is the study of celestial bodies outside of our solar system, the stars nebulas, galaxies but also planets. And this is where we get into a bit of overlap.

 

Space science on the other hand encompasses any of the scientific disciplines involved in studying our solar system including the sun, the planets, their moons and other small bodies that are out there like asteroids and of course when I mentioned the planets, space science does include studying our own planet from space and also understanding the earth’s near space environment. For example by understanding space debris, space junk like we just heard about, understanding how solar flares from the sun might affect things that are in orbit as well. So, space science is what enables us to understand the space environment and to develop the technologies that will function in that environment.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking while the others continue to listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Great, OK. So, space is kind of the near stuff and then, and the astronomy is the rest, so the bigger universal kind of picture. OK. So, we definitely have time for one more and depending on how long our answers are.

 

[Image changes to show the six people inset on the left side of the screen and a map pinpointing St Stephen’s School in the centre beneath the text: National Science Week 2017, STEM in Schools, St Stephen’s School, WA, How will space exploration change life on earth?]

 

So, we’re going this time to St Stephen’s School and are you ready for us there St Stephen’s School.

 

[Applause can be heard and Bernie can be seen laughing on one of the inset images]

 

Alright. Go St Stephen’s. Wow, that was really loud even though you’re all the way over in WA. OK. Go you, yelling across the country. So, can we hear the question from St Stephen’s School.

 

Student 3: So, my question is how will space exploration change life on earth?

 

[Image shows Bernie talking on one of the inset images to the left while the others listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Oh, I love your degree of self-interest, St Stephen’s School and that’s what we all want to know. How will space exploration change life on earth? Now Solange, you are 24, you’re mad keen on learning and understanding about space and getting, helping kids across Australia get their experiments up there, what is it that you hope space exploration will change about life here on earth?

 

[Image changes to show five people inset on the screen, Bernie in the middle top row and Solange in the bottom left corner talking to the camera]

 

Solange Cunin: Well, I think there are so many ways that it’s going to impact us. So, one of the ways that we don’t often think about is you know all of the technology and science that we learn in our endeavours to do space exploration and how that helps us in our everyday life here. So, that’s going to be one of the biggest impacts but then what I’m really excited about, there’s two things, one is if we find evidence for life elsewhere, which is…

 

[Image shows Bernie talking while the others listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Wouldn’t that be cool?

 

[Image shows Solange talking while the others listen]

 

Solange Cunin: The 2020 Rovers that are going to Mars are some of the first Rovers to be actually, the purpose is to look for evidence of life. So, that’s very exciting and I don’t know how that’s going to impact the world but I’m excited to experience that. So, that’s the first thing.

 

The second thing is being able to live off this earth and having space exploration help us get off this earth and become a level up in a sense and become a species that’s interplanetary and you know, it gives us so many options. You know, it means we’d have to be a little less stressed about all the finite resources we have here on earth and it really just means that we’re going to live, we’re going to be living in future.

 

[Image shows Bernie laughing and talking while the others listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Yeah, there’s plenty of other planets up there to dig up and burn, yeah let’s go for it.

 

[Image shows Solange talking while the others listen]

 

Solange Cunin: No, actually though, we do, we depend a lot on finite resources here and it’s a source of, major source of a lot of the, you know disputes and suffering on this world and imagine if we didn’t have to have that, those disputes or that suffering because we were interplanetary or we could harness the resources that we can find in space, it would just, it would be amazing.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera while the others listen and Solange bursts out laughing]

 

Bernie Hobbs: You sound pretty, pretty excited about the whole what space could do for us. I will just add a very daggy old thing, space ex… space science gave us Velcro which you know if you were young in the ‘80s and you had sneakers that did up with Velcro you were down with everything. You were the cool kid in that block, I’ve heard. OK, Jason what about you, what do you hope that we could, that could change about life on earth or what we could learn for life on earth, from our space exploration?

 

[Image shows Jason leaning forwards and talking to the camera while the others listen and Bernie laughs]

 

Jason Held: Well, I always kind of see this from the perspective of the kids in the classroom. It’s not about what space is going to change here on earth. It’s about what you as a student, as a person, as an individual, the type of society, the type of life that you want to have as an adult. And you know, I remember being in your shoes. Believe me it goes very quickly. Literally I blinked and from 17 to 45, and I mean, I still feel like I’m 17 inside but I got slightly greying hair, right. So, I mean…

 

[Image shows Bernie talking and then laughing while the others listen and smile]

 

Bernie Hobbs: No, no one can see those. No, you look very young.

 

[Image shows Jason talking while the others listen and Bernie laughs and then listens]

 

Jason Held: See, you can see I cut it short. But look here’s the point. You can be whatever you resolve to be, right and that’s the kind of thing that I’ve lived my life. So, if you want to be a Jedi like your father, if you want to have human societies on other planets, the society you have on earth is the society you want it to be with or without space.

 

So, make your life what you want it to be. No matter what your grades are and no matter what people say you can do, this is the kind of thing I’ve learnt because I didn’t have great grades as a kid, you know so if you want to be a space engineer, if you want to help, you know have our species on other planets, then you sit down with a piece of paper, come up with your own ideas, pursue those ideas. It’s not about the grade, it’s not about the university. You should pursue those anyways but you pursue the idea and then everything else kind of follows, including us together as a community, as a country, achieving the things that we want to achieve.

 

[Image shows Bernie turning to the left and clapping and talking as the others listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: That is, oh let’s hear it, let’s hear it.

 

[Applause can be heard]

 

That’s something for the future.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking and the inset images on the bottom row move across and Paolo’s image reappears on the screen waving]

 

Now, I, sorry if I looked like I was having some kind of fit there, oh Paolo’s back, that’s great. Sorry if I looked like I was having some kind of fit but you should have been some of the hand signals that were going on. It was like the cricket coach going, “No, no, bowl one overarm, no bowl one underarm, no, quick, silly, mid, slip field”, whatever, I don’t know.

 

[Image shows Bernie leaning to the right and then facing the camera and talking while the others listen and smile]

 

Last question, that was what she was trying to say. Pass me a note next time. Yeah. OK. Last question, very basic question and this is from Cairns. I don’t mean basic question, it’s a good question.

 

[Image changes to show the six people inset on the left side of the screen and a map pinpointing Cairns State High School in the centre beneath the text: National Science Week 2017, STEM in Schools, Cairns State High School, QLD, What school subjects are appropriate to move into this type of vocation?]

 

This is from Cairns State High School in Queensland which possibly is the best state in Australia. Cairns, can we hear from you there?

 

[Image shows the inset left image of Bernie putting her hand behind her ear in a listening symbol while the others all listen]

 

[Applause can be heard]

 

[Image shows Bernie talking on the inset image on the left]

 

Fantastic, OK, what’s your question from Cairns State High School?

 

Student 4: What subjects would you have to study in later years to do, get jobs in space science?

 

Bernie Hobbs: OK. Thankyou Cairns, that’s fantastic. Alright does anyone want to answer that one? What subjects would you have to study to get jobs in space science, Paolo?

 

[Image changes to show the six people inset on the screen again and the image shows Paolo in the bottom right corner talking to the camera while the others listen]

 

Paolo de Suza: Yep, I would say anything, anything you love can lead you to stars, can lead you to space. Just do what you love and you will get there.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking while the others listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Great, and does anyone…

 

[Image changes to show Solange in the bottom left corner of the screen talking while the others listen]

 

Solange Cunin: Yeah, I think, don’t be misguided into thinking you have to do the physics or you know hard core mathematics or you know, because that’s what, you know everyone associates with the, you know rocket scientists or whatever. The great thing about space is we require such enormous teams and such varied skills sets that whatever you’re passionate about can almost always be useful and used in space and space missions. So, actually just do the subjects you’ll enjoy and are good at.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking while the others listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Yeah, and if you do happen to be great at physics and maths, like Celine, you might do that. What are your thoughts Celine?

 

[Image shows Celine in the middle bottom row talking to the camera]

 

Celine D’Orgeville: I think looking at the science side certainly helps to get into space science. So, if you’re interested in building stuff or understanding how they work, doing a bit of science, a bit of engineering, will always help you to get to work in space science but as we’ve said before, we don’t need just scientists and physicists and engineers. We also need all the other people that make it happen in the end, the administration side of things and the legal side of things, in biology and all those other fields. So…

 

[Image shows Bernie talking while the others listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: Right. You could be a space lawyer. That would be great and Kimberley did you want to add anything? I feel like Jason, I reckon we’ve heard what your thoughts are on this, but did you want to add anything Kimberley?

 

[Image shows Kimberley in the top right corner talking to the camera while the others listen and smile]

 

Kimberley Clayfield: I would pretty much reiterate what the others have said. If you are interested in the science and the engineering then you do need to do your physics, chemistry, maths but if you’re interested in space but you don’t know if the technical thing is really your thing, then space needs like lawyers, managers, economists, writers, historians, doctors, anything that you’re interested in as a profession can be applied to space. So [58.23].

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera and then laughing while the others listen]

 

Bernie Hobbs: What about ageing ex TV presenters, is there anything going on there? Because I tell you what, I’m getting pretty excited about this stuff today. We’ll talk later, we’ll talk later.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera and then turning to the left and clapping]

 

OK, that’s all we have time for in terms of our panel but I want everyone in every school across Australia now, we’re going to break the internet, screaming out a thank you to our panel. Are you ready, are you ready? Thanks to our panel. One, two, three, whooo.

 

[Applause can be heard]

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera and then laughing while the others all laugh and smile]

 

Yeah, just kidding, we don’t have the capacity to do that, you’re all on mute. Sorry. But hopefully you had a great time at your school. We wouldn’t want to break the internet, not before the NBN really learns to fly. Now I do have a special prize for everyone who answered a question this morning.

 

[Image shows Bernie holding up a fantail as she talks]

 

I’m going to be posting out to you a fantail. OK. There was a bowl of them in the hotel this morning.

 

[Image shows Bernie holding up a badge as she talks and the others all looking on and smiling]

 

I grabbed some as I left and I’ve also got some very cool little badges. One of them says, “Feminist”, and another one says “Time to react”. They’re very cute. So, they’re going to be coming your way very soon.

 

[Image shows Bernie continuing to talk to the camera while the others listen]

 

Thanks panellists, thanks CSIRO, thanks STEM in Schools and thanks to Virtual Classroom. And I also have to say, I’m sorry we did get heaps and heaps of questions. So, I’m so sorry that we didn’t get to anywhere near a fraction of them but thank you so much and I hope you really enjoyed the ones that we did get to answer. So, thanks everyone and have a great Science Week.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking and waving her hands]

 

Thanks to and, and, and, oh yes,

 

[Image shows Bernie laughing and then holding up a handwritten sign which reads: Tell schools to use, #STEMinSchools on social media]

 

OK, hey it’s the social media, social media, it’s a thing, everyone would you use the hashtag, Stem in Schools, write it down, hashtag, can you read it now, up, oh yeah, yeah, #STEMinSchools.

 

[Image shows the handwritten sign being held up a bit higher]

 

Oh yeah, you don’t need the bit about me telling you to do that because you can hear me telling you to do that.

 

[Image shows Bernie talking to the camera and then clapping while the others listen and clap]

 

Thanks everyone, that’s great fun. Have a great weekend and thank you space scientists one and all.

 

[Applause can be heard]

 

Bye, thank you.

 

[Image changes to show the six people inset on the side of the screen again and the map below the heading: National Science Week 2017 – STEM in Schools]

 

STEM in Schools virtual classroom 2017

About the forum panellists and emcee

Panellists

Dr Kimberley Clayfield.

Dr Kimberley Clayfield

Dr Kimberley Clayfield
Executive Manager Space Sciences and Technology, CSIRO

Dr Kimberley Clayfield is Executive Manager Space Sciences and Technology within CSIRO. With a professional background in both mechanical engineering and space policy, she provides space policy advice to CSIRO Executive Management, represents CSIRO in Australian Government and international space forums, and supports the implementation of new space-related activities across CSIRO—for example, establishing a new million-dollar Earth observation program within CSIRO in 2012. Since April 2017, she has also been seconded part-time to the Defence Materials Technology Centre (DMTC), where she is Program Leader of the new High Altitude Sensor Systems Program. This program will support Australian industry to develop new sensing and data processing technologies for small unmanned aerial systems and small satellites.

In 2014-15 Kimberley was also the CSIRO SKA Consortium Officer, managing CSIRO’s administrative obligations as lead organisation of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Dish Consortium, the largest of the 11 international consortia responsible for designing the world’s biggest radio-telescope.

Ms Solange Cunin.

Ms Solange Cunin

Ms Solange Cunin
Co-Founder and CEO, Cuberider

Solange Cunin is a 24-year-old, self-confessed space geek who grew up ‘off the grid’ on her parents’ farm in northern NSW. She was given her first telescope at the age of eight and convinced everyone around her that she would become an aerospace engineer.

Solange studied a Bachelors in Mathematics and Aerospace Engineering at University of New South Wales. In 2015, she founded Cuberider, a leader in innovative STEM education, which brings access to space down into the classroom.

Prof Paulo de Souza Junior

Prof Paulo de Souza Junior

Prof Paulo de Souza Junior
OCE Science Leader, Data61 | CSIRO

Dr Paulo de Souza is an internationally recognised and awarded researcher and research manager in fields of geochemistry, sensors, sensor networks, and ICT. He has 20 years of experience in industry and research organisations; more than 200 peer-review publications, three patents and four books published, and successful track record in business development and commercialisation of research products.

Paulo was a collaborating scientist on NASA's Mars Exploration Rover mission, which landed two large robots, Spirit and Opportunity, on the surface of Mars. He is now the leader of the Global Initiative for Honey bee Health, which equips bees with tiny microsensors, also known as backpacks, to monitor the bees’ movement and environment.

He has held senior positions in government agencies, universities and industry and is passionate about translating science into meaningful outcomes for government, business and the community.

Céline d’Orgeville.

Assoc Prof Céline d’Orgeville.

Assoc Prof Céline d’Orgeville
Instrument Scientist and Adaptive Optics Group Manager, ANU

Céline d’Orgeville is an Associate Professor and Instrument Scientist (Laser Physics) at the Australian National University. In 2012 she moved to Australia and joined the ANU RSAA instrumentation group to lead Laser Guide Star activities—on ground-based telescopes used for astronomy, satellite imaging, and laser tracking of space debris. Prior to moving to Australia, Céline worked at the Gemini Observatory where she led the design, fabrication and commissioning of the Laser Guide Star facilities in Hawaii and Chile.

Céline holds two Masters degrees, in Optics and Photonics (Paris XI University), and in Optical Engineering (Institut d’Optique Graduate School, Orsay, France). She has a particular interest in equity and diversity issues stemming from her professional and experience working in the astronomy community world-wide.

Image of Dr Jason Held

Dr Jason Held

Dr Jason Held
Founder and CEO, Saber Astronautics

Prior to founding Saber Astronautics, Dr Held was a US Army Major and team leader for USSTRATCOM and deployed internationally in support of military space missions. He was a lead instructor at the Interservice Space Fundamentals Course and an engineer at Army Space and Missile Command Battle Lab. He conducted flight software for the Wide Field Camera 3 of the Hubble Space Telescope and testing for the International Space Station. He also conducted testing for an invasive class II medical device. Dr Held guest lectured for the IRS Space Station Design Workshop, University of New South Wales, and International Space University. He led a research expedition in the high Canadian Arctic and co-founded several groups, such as the Delta-V SpaceHub Startup Accelerator and the University of Sydney space engineering laboratory.

Emcee

Ms Bernie Hobbs

Bernie Hobbs is best known as a popular judge from ABC TV's The New Inventors, and she's a firm favourite with audiences for her weekly science spots on ABC radio around the country.

Bernie has that rare combination of a sharp intellect, quick wit and warmth. With a background in medical research, environmental writing and science teaching, Bernie can tackle tough or technical subjects and bring the driest topics alive for lay or expert audiences.

She's worked with kids, animals and rocket scientists, and shared the stage with prime ministers and rock stars. She happily takes the hot seat at triple j when Dr Karl can't, and loves nothing more than working with a live audience.

Bernie has won awards for the kids TV show the experiMENTALS, and for her infamous greenhouse website Planet Slayer - where you find out what age you should have died at so you don't use more than your share of the planet.

She has a first class honours degree in biochemistry and microbiology, a very nerdy habit of birdwatching, and more than a passing interest in cycling, kayaking and ridding her backyard of asthma weed.

She's MC'd and chaired her way through forums and events for clients including: Prime Minister's Prizes for Science, the Association of Consulting Engineers Australia, a swathe of CRCs, GHD, Queerscreen, the Queensland Government, The Queensland Resources Council, CSIRO, The Australian Society of Medical Research, The Australian Fodder Industry Association, Brisbane Ideas Festival, The World Congress of Science Journalists, Questacon.

Ms Bernie Hobbs appears by arrangement with Claxton Speakers International.

If you have any questions regarding the event, please contact STEMinSchools@csiro.au

Contact us

 
Your contact details

First name must be filled in

We'll need to know what you want to contact us about so we can give you an answer.