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Science Week

Friday, August 26, 2011
Science is so much more than enthusiastic professors wearing lab coats and conducting crazy experiments. Science is the spark that sets our minds on fire. It helps us understand and experience to the fullest the world in which we live. Scientists have given us the internet, high-speed travel, MP3 players and rollercoaster's. It has eradicated polio and small pox in Australia and it is working towards cures for diabetes, asthma, epilepsy, AIDS and cancer. Recently we celebrated National Science Week which featured around 1,000 events across Australia. More than one million people take part in those 1,000 events and this year the Government provided $96,000 to 18 science events happening across the State. The Government recognises the importance of inspiring our next generation of scientists, who will be helping to tackle the big challenges facing the world. From information and communications technology and engineering to medicine, agriculture and clean energies, scientific skills are increasingly needed and valued in a wide range of careers, so it is crucial we actively promote maths and science and show students that those subjects can be interesting and fun. During National Science Week 70 senior high school girls from across Sydney spent a night at Sydney Observatory alongside leading women scientists. Unfortunately, women are underrepresented in many science-based professions—something we need to address—and this event provided a unique way for girls to meet highly accomplished women working in science. I have the privilege of having the Parkes telescope in my electorate and we currently have one of the world's leading experts—a woman from NASA—working at the institute. It is fantastic to see the calibre of that individual working in such a fantastic facility in regional New South Wales. This year the Government ran Science Exposed, a program which encourages community involvement in science events and gives young people more opportunities to engage in science activities. The 18 initiatives supported by the Science Exposed program were chosen for their capacity to get young people interested and excited about the sciences, engineering and maths. Another event that was staged as part of National Science Week saw more than 900 students from 29 schools descend on the Parramatta campus of the University of Western Sydney to take part in one of the region's largest education expos. The students participated in interactive science experiments and demonstrations, heard from up-and-coming young scientists and had their questions answered during a careers panel session. The Government is committed to supporting the State's science community and our research and development activities at our world-class universities and research institutes. Through the Department of Trade and Investment and the New South Wales chief scientist and engineer, the Government works with the science community to promote the work of our publicly-funded research institutions and the groundbreaking research they do. The chief scientist and engineer also works with the research community to build strong links with industry partners and business. This is an important facet of the future of science. Industry and business will inevitably benefit from scientific advances that create a smarter and more innovative economy. Whether in Science Week or the rest of the year, the Government will always support our science community and encourage young people to be actively involved in this vitally important field.

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