AUSTRALIA is celebrating all things science from August 13 to 17 for National Science Week.
This annual celebration of science and technology features more than 1000 events around Australia, including those delivered by universities, schools, research institutions, libraries, museums and science centres.
In Port Macquarie, students embraced the Hastings Valley Science Fair held on Monday, August 13.
These events attract a wide audience from children to adults, and science amateurs to professionals. Over one million people participate in science events across the nation.
Dr John Rafferty is a recognised teaching and research scholar at the School of Environmental Sciences, Charles Sturt University (CSU) and said National Science Week is a fantastic initiative.
"It's terrific to highlight the value of science in our every day lives," he said.
"As a national traditionally we hit well above our average for scientific research. We are great innovators. But it all happens in the background.
“The reality is, most science comes about in a most fortuitous way. We attempt to find answers to one thing and find answers for others that we weren't looking for.
“Some of the best science happens outside of the lab when creative people sit and talk.”
Dr Rafferty believes good things are happening in schools with the promotion of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
"But it actually reinforces the silo nature of our curriculum," he says.
"Science is closely related to everything, even art. Some of the best schools have a fully integrated program where an art lesson is an important aspect of their science curriculum.
"A general problem we see in education is an increased focus on literacy and numeracy, which isn't a bad thing, but often comes at a cost.”
When quizzed on the importance of sciences in school, Dr Rafferty said there is more than enough hours in a day to cover all bases.
"Unfortunately teachers don't have the authority. They are forced into certain things," he said.
"If we give teachers more autonomy and more control we will get much better results.
"I think it's amazing we praise alternative schools for the work they do, but the fact they are called alternative schools contradicts what we know about good education.
"Teachers are given a lot of support and a lot of autonomy and marvellous things happen. In mainstream schooling the opposite seems to happen.
"That is the great thing about science week - we can celebrate the things around us and how we understand the world."