Australian Seismometers in Schools

Are you student’s curious about the latest earthquake in the news?
Would you like your school to be part of a national geoscience experiment?


The Australian Seismometers in Schools (AuSiS) project has 40 seismometers to place in schools around Australia. Students will look after the seismometer, which will monitor and record seismic data. This data can then be used by geoscientists, as well as accessed by other schools. Follow the progress of the project on their Facebook page

If you would like your school to participate, you can fill out an Expression of Interest form at the AuSiS website.

Selene: A Lunar Construction Game

Would young people learn science better if it were packaged in a videogame?

That's the question at the heart of the Selene project. Originally funded by NASA and now carried on through a four-year grant from the National Science Foundation, Selene studies videogame learning and the ways researchers can assess how effectively that learning takes place.

The Center for Educational Technologies® at Wheeling Jesuit University created the Selene online game to see how organizations like NASA could best use videogames to introduce important science concepts.

Named after the Greek lunar goddess, Selene challenges players to learn the major geologic processes scientists believe formed the modern Moon. Players create their own moon and then pepper it with impact craters and flood it with lava. It's a great opportunity for students to learn about lunar geology while helping researchers study some key videogame design principles.

The Center for Educational Technologies produced Selene to conduct its research. If you're a student between the ages of 9-18, they'd love to have you play. The game takes about an hour to complete, but you can spend more time after checking out Selene's various resources about the Moon. To play, though, you have to be enrolled by an adult recruiter to ensure parent/guardian consent for your participation.

VLSCI Provides Opportunity for Students to Meet Dame Linda Partridge

VLSCI Provides Opportunity for Students to Attend Graeme Clark Oration and Meet Dame Linda Partridge

The 2012 Graeme Clark Oration was delivered by Professor Dame Linda Partridge at the Melbourne Convention Centre on the 18th July. Dame Linda explored the science of ageing, and research from around the world that is helping us understand the genes and mechanisms that contribute to a long healthy lifespan. The oration is an initiative of the ICT for Life Sciences Forum. If you were unable to attend the oration, the webcast is available for free download.

In addition to being a major sponsor of the event, the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative (VLSCI) invited a group of students and teachers to attend the oration and dinner, and tour the supercomputer before the event. The students were very excited to meet Dame Linda as well as researchers using the supercomputer.



VSSEC Receives Australia-Japan Foundation Grant

VSSEC Receives Australia-Japan Foundation Grant

After the success of the It IS Rocket Science! Teacher Trip to Japan, VSSEC is pleased to announce that it has received a second Australia-Japan Foundation grant to bring Japanese Teachers to Australia.

The Space Down Under: Japanese Teacher Program in Australia, will build on the existing collaboration between VSSEC and the JAXA Space Education Center and promote future collaboration between Australia and Japan in the areas of education, science and technology. The program is supported by the ANU Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, the CSIRO through the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, Questacon and the ACT Government Department of Education and Training. It provides an opportunity for six Japanese science teachers, accompanied by a JAXA representative, to travel to Australia and work with experienced space science educators, experience some of Australia’s leading space technologies, and share ideas with Australian science teachers. The program will be conducted mid 2013 and includes:

- two days at the Victorian Space Science Education Centre investigating how VSSEC uses scenario-based learning to increase engagement and achievement in STEM education . The program will include an in-depth look at VSSEC’s Mission to Mars, Robotic Mission to Mars, Mission to the Orbiting Space Laboratory and Living in Space Language (Japanese) programs. In particular the program will explore how Japanese teachers can access the Robotic Mission to Mars program and control the VSSEC Mars rover from Japan, and the support provided by the JAXA Space Education Centre during the development of the Living in Space Language program;

- a day at the Mt Stromlo Observatory with Australian teachers including: a briefing on Australia’s involvement in the Giant Magellan Telescope project; a tour of the Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre and a briefing on its satellite assembly and testing capability; a CanSat workshop; a tour of EOS Space Systems and an expert presentation on monitoring space debris; an opportunity for Australian and Japanese teachers to exchange ideas (including a video link with participants of the previous project); and an evening astronomical observing session with an expert presenter;  

- a behind the scenes tour of the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex and an expert briefing on Australia’s support of space exploration missions such as Voyager, the Moon landings, the Huygens Titan probe, the Mars rovers Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity, and more…. 

- a tour of Questacon and an opportunity to explore how science is communicated to the public in an interactive setting

- a visit to the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and the opportunity to interact with Australian wildlife

Australian teachers interested in participating in the program should contact VSSEC at

Celebrate the historic landing of Curiosity Rover on 6th of August at VSSEC

Celebrate the historic landing of Curiosity Rover on the 6th of August at VSSEC

Be there as Curiosity lands on Mars, meet Mars experts and help to Launch Engineering Week.

Australia is playing a key role in the landing of the NASA Curiosity Rover, on Mars.  Curiosity is the most sophisticated robot to be sent to Mars and the NASA Deep Space Tracking Station at Tidbinbilla will the first to receive the signals.  Celebrate this momentous occasion and the launch of Engineering Week at VSSEC.  Drive the VSSEC Mars Rover, the first rover developed purely for educational purposes.Meet Marion Anderson, a scientist from Monash University involved in the selection of the Curiosity Mars Rover landing site.  Speak with Dr Adrian Brown, an Australian working on Mars research, live from NASA.  See how VSSEC is developing Australia’s own science and engineering future workforce.
This landing represents one of the more important Human Engineering Feats of the decade; you and your family are invited to celebrate this event with us.  Be part of history as Curiosity lands, meet Australian scientists and engineers working in Space research and have some fun with some great hands-on activities.Please click onto this link to register for this event: you are unable to join us on the day, stay tuned to the event with our live Ustream broadcast:


 Dr Adrian Brown is a planetary scientist working at the SETI Institute and NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. His fields of research include Mars, astrobiology and remote sensing spectroscopy with a focus on the analysis of data from the "CRISM" instrument on-board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.    Adrian is the coordinator of the SETI Institute Seminar series - a weekly science talk from cutting edge researchers in the Northern California region and he also helps teach an online planetary science course at the Astronomy Department of Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia; Adrian is also involved in the running of the VSSEC-NASA Australian Space Prize.
 Marion Anderson is a lecturer and first year coordinator at Monash University Clayton.  Marion’s fields of research are the early evolution of life and the mineralogy and geomorphology of Mars.  Marion is also a member of the site selection committees responsible for the selection of the landing locatlities of the Spirit and Opportunity Rovers and for the selection of Gale Crater, Curiosity’s Martian destination and has been so since the Spririt and Opportunity MER misisons.
  Franceso Pignatale holds a Masters in Astronomy from the University of Bologna, Italy,  focusing on procedures of spectral analysis  and the chemical evolution of globular clusters.  He is currently a PhD candidate at the Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing (CAS) at Swinburne University, Melbourne.  Francesco works on the physical chemistry of our prehistoric solar system, and the formation of the very first dust grains that were formed at the birth of our solar system.

Australian Artist and Space Advocate, Sarah Jane Pell, to Speak at TEDxISU 2012

Australian Artist and Space Advocate, Sarah Jane Pell, to Speak at TEDxISU 2012

During TEDxISU, leaders from the Space Community will address how the power of ideas in technology, entertainment, and design influences and inspires their work in Space.  The audience will be a mixture of leaders from the Space industry, participants of the ISU SSP12 session, host site personnel from the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) and NASA, local Space Companies, and the general public.

TEDxISU theme this year is 'Open Source Space', how the power of new ideas can drive whole new paradigm shifts in our society. TEDxISU 2012 focuses on how Space is of Service to Humanity and the Environment; that is, how our work in Space makes life better down here on Earth. TEDxISU marks the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the ISU Summer Session Program and launches the official ISU Alumni Weekend celebrations at KSC, and FIT.  

The event will be webcast live via the TEDxISU website July 6th 8:00am-12:30pm (Florida time). Australian artist, diver and ISU Alumi, Dr Sarah Jane Pell, is part of the distinguished speaker list.

"In typical surrealist fashion, I am preparing my presentation from a little harbour town on the west coast of Tasmania at the edge of the Gordon-Franklin world heritage wilderness area. In between repetitive diving and remote life, I am connecting open-source space material and my own aquatic practice to devise new works of art - somewhat like civilian ground-based space analogues - in an effort to champion that 'every space project needs an artist'." Sarah Jane Pell

The full list of speakers is:

Dr. Peter Diamandis. Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation and is also one of the Founders of ISU, SU, and SEDS.
Michael Potter. Founder of Geeks Without Frontiers and is a multi award winning producer and director (Orphans of Apollo), and ISU Alumni (first ISU SSP in 1988).
Ron Garan. NASA Astronaut Col Ron Garan is a veteran of two space flights with over 100 days in orbit.
Brian Rishikof. CEO of Odyssey Space Research and an ISU Alumni.
Dr. Sarah Jane Pell. An artist and a commercial diver, a TED Fellow and an Alumni of the ISU SSP (06).
Dr. Thomas Painter. A leading Climatologist from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Davy Knowles. Rhythm & Blues guitarist extraordinaire.
Dr. Michael Simpson. Executive Director of the Secure World Foundation.
Cynda Collins Arsenault. Co-Founder, Chairman of the Board, and President of Secure World Foundation.
Dr. Joseph Ritter. University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy.

TED started out in 1984 as a non-profit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. The main stream is to bring together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, and Design. TED holds annual conferences in Long Beach, Palm Springs and Edinburgh UK. TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.

Zero Robotics Video Challenge


Kids are always told to reach for the stars. Now, NASA is literally giving them a chance to by providing middle and high school students with unprecedented access to the International Space Station and letting them write the programs that control state-of-the-art robots on the International Space Station -- no Ph.D. in astrophysics required!

The NASA Tournament Laboratory, established by NASA and Harvard University, along with the enabling capabilities of the TopCoder community, have partnered with Tongal to hold a competition with cash prizes for winning ideas, pitches and promotional videos to inspire tomorrow’s scientists to see mathematics as more than just digits on a calculator, to further the study of outer space and to push the limits of human knowledge about the worlds (and the space) beyond our planet. The winning videos will help inspire middle and high school students to compete in the Zero Robotics Challenge, which is managed for NASA by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT.

To learn more and to participate in this challenge, visit

Important dates for the Zero Robotics Video Challenge are:

June 19 - 26, 2012:                              Idea phase
July 2, 2012:                                        Five winning ideas selected
July 2 - 16, 2012:                                 Pitch phase
July 20, 2012:                                      Five winning pitches selected
July 20, 2012 - Aug. 20, 2012:             Video phase
Aug. 27, 2012:                                     Seven winning videos delivered to NASA

NASA Launches STEM on Station Page for Educators and Students

NASA Launches STEM on Station Page for Educators and Students

NASA Education has launched a new web resource for students and educators. STEM on Station is part of the Teach the International Space Station section of the NASA website and presents videos that were filmed on the space station about science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM. Students can follow astronauts as they demonstrate principles such as Newton’s Laws of Motion, surface tension and advances in technology. NASA lesson plans and other resources supplement the STEM videos.


FREE Swinburne Public Talk: Astronomy from the Antarctic Plateau

FREE Public Talk at Swinburne Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing
Astronomy from the Antarctic Plateau

Presenter: Prof Jeremy Mould 
Date: Friday 20 July 2012 
Venue: Swinburne University, Hawthorn Campus, ATC building, ATC101 
Time: 6.20pm for a 6.30pm start
Cost: FREE, register on-line

Dome A may be the best site for astronomical telescopes on Earth. In the Mawson centennial year we should note that Australians have been pioneers in collecting these site test data. We now have an opportunity to join a Chinese project to build a 2.5 metre telescope at Dome A. This would be the most powerful infrared survey telescope anywhere. A 2 micron survey of the southern hemisphere would find targets for spectroscopy with NASA's successor to the Hubble Space Telescope, JWST. We would detect the first generation of stars to form in the Universe after the Big Bang and see the powerful supernovae that produce the first black holes.

The audio recording from previous lecture can be accessed via the Swinburne website.

Consultation Forums for Australian Curriculum

Consultation Forums for Australian Curriculum
AIP Consultation Forums for Physics Curriculum

Drafts of the senior secondary Australian Curriculum content and achievement standards for English, Mathematics, Science and History have been released by ACARA (Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority) and are now open for consultation. It is important that teachers comment on these drafts, as either accepted, rejected or modified, they will impact on the working lives of teachers from the mid-decade onwards. There are many ways for teachers to provide their feedback:

On-line Questionnaires
The ACARA website has a consultation questionnaire (closing date 20th July)
The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA) website has a consultation questionnaire (closing date 6th July)

VCAA Online 'Collaborate' Session
The VCAA is holding consultation forums across the state on Thursday 14th June. Check the VCAA website, for details of venues and times. These forums are for English, Maths, History and all the Sciences. Participants will be briefed on the structures of the senior secondary subjects and the timeline for implementation. This will be followed by a group discussion for each of the four curriculum areas. It is expected that the Science group discussion will address all the sciences together.

Australian Institute of Physics Consultation Forums
The AIP Education Committee will be running after school consultation forums in metropolitan and regional areas 17th to 19th July. The forums will run for two hours and be run by experienced physics teachers.

The Forum will open with a brief introduction of the issues to be discussed, with the bulk of the meeting time devoted to small group discussion, the occasional brief reporting back and a summing up at the end. The results of each forum's discussion will be posted on the AIP website and will be sent to ACARA as appendices to the AIP Education Committee's response.

VSSEC is pleased to support this consultation process and host a forum on Thursday 19th July. A tour of the facility will be available at the completion of the session with an emphasis on how VSSEC supports the teaching of Physics. * Short tours of the Synchrotron and Quantum Victoria are also available. Check the website for details.

Teachers interested in attending one of the following Physics consultation sessions should register by email to the AIP at . A copy of the physics draft and more details, such as parking, etc can be found at .




Tuesday 3rd July10:00amQuantum Victoria * , cnr Waiora Rd and Kingsbury Drive, Macleod West.  Melway map 19 J8
Wednesday, 4th July10:30amUniversity of Ballarat, Mt Helen Campus, Rm F313 
Friday, 13th July10:00amKew High School, High St Kew.  Melway map 45 K3 
Tuesday, 17th July4:00pmKew High School, High St Kew.  Melway map 45 K3 
 4:30pmLeongatha Secondary College, Nerrena Rd., Leongatha 
 4:30pmUniversity of Ballarat, SMB Campus, Rm T037 
Wednesday, 18th July4:00pmSimonds Catholic College, Nicholson St, Carlton.  Melway map 44 K2
 4:00pmAustralian Synchrotron *, Blackburn Rd, Clayton.  Melway map 70, H11
 4:30pmChairo Christian School, 435 Lardners Track, Drouin East
 4:30pmBeechworth Secondary College, 1 Balaclava Rd., Beechworth
Thursday, 19th July4:00pmBeaconhills College, Berwick.  Kangan Dr, Berwick.  Melway map 111 C10
 4:00pmVSSEC *, Strathmore Secondary College, Pascoe Vale Rd, Strathmore.  Melway map 16 K11
 4:00pmRingwood Secondary College, Bedford Rd, Ringwood.  Melway map 49 K8
 4:30pmEmmanuel College, Canterbury Rd., Warrnambool 
 4:30pmBendigo Senior Secondary College, Rosalind Park, Bendigo


Dedicated Space Advocates Recognised in Queen's Birthday 2012 Honours List

Dedicated Space Advocates Recognised in Queen's Birthday 2012 Honours List

Each year Australians who have dedicated themselves to serving their community are recognised in the Queen's Birthday Honours. In 2012, Dr Jeanette Dixon and Mr Brett Biddington were appointed to the Member of the Order of Australia. The Order of Australia is the principal and most prestigious means of recognising outstanding members of the community at a national level. Jeanette and Brett  were recognised for their dedication to science and engineering education and their contribution to the Australian Space Industry. Like all Honours recipients, they have served Australia with dedication and passion. VSSEC would like to congratulate them and thank them for all their hard work.

Dr Jeanette Maree DIXON, Dudley NSW 2290

For service to education through roles in promoting space science, through contributions to the learning of science in schools, and as a teacher.

Director and Vice-Chair, National Space Society of Australia, since 2009.
Volunteer, Scientist in Schools Program, since 2009.
Principal and Founder, New South Wales School of Space Science, since 2005.
Member, National Astronomical Society of Australia, 1998-2004.
Principal, Australian International Space School, 1993-1999.
Casual Academic, Faculty of Science and Information Technology and Faculty of Education,
University of Newcastle, since 2003.
Head Science Teacher, Maitland High School, 2000-2003 and 2004-2007.
Science Consultant, Lake Macquarie and Central Coast Districts, NSW Department of
Education and Training, 2003.
Teacher, NSW High Schools, 1967-2000.

Awards/recognition include:

Australian Space Science Teacher of the Year, Young Astronauts Space Schools Australia, 2005.
Science Award for Teachers (Secondary), BHP Billiton, 2004.
Quality Teaching Award, Australian College of Education, 2001.
Award for Excellence in Teaching, NSW Minister for Education, 1998.
Assistant Director Generals Award, NSW Department of Education and Training, 1993; for her 'Outstanding Contributions to Science Education'.


For service to the space sector, particularly through national policy and industry development, science and education support, and through governance of astronomy programs.

Principal, Biddington Research, since 2009; involved in space policy and industry development and support for initiatives in space science, education and outreach, and developing Australia’s astronomy infrastructure.
Member, Global Space Team, Cisco Systems Australia Pty Ltd, 2002-2009.
Member, Royal Australian Air Force, 1980-2002; obtained the rank of Group Captain.
Chair, Space Industry Association of Australia.
Inaugural Member, Space Industry Innovation Council, Commonwealth Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.
Chair, Advisory Board, Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research, University of New South Wales.
Chair, Advisory Board, 'Pathways to Space' Project at the Powerhouse Museum, Australian Centre for Astrobiology, University of New South Wales.
Board Member, Kokoda Foundation.
Member, Giant Magellan Telescope Project Oversight Committee, Australian National University.
Member, Advisory Board, Institute for Telecommunications Research, University of South Australia, since 2004.
Chair, Australia Telescope Steering Committee, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, 2006-2009.
Founding Member, Australian Square Kilometre Array Industry Consortium, 2002-2009.
Inaugural Chair, Antarctic Astronomy Advisory Committee, Astronomy Australia Ltd, 2006-2009.

Awards/recognition include:

Space Pioneer Award, National Space Society of Australia, 2006.

VSSEC Spies Transit of Venus

VSSEC Spies Transit of Venus

Wednesday 6th of June Australia had box seats to an extremely rare celestial event – the transit of Venus across the Sun. Ian Christie and Philip Spencer, our fearless physicists ventured out into Melbourne’s cold and cloudy day to obtain some priceless images.

Students from Strathmore Secondary college were given a unique opportunity to a) look at the sun (via a projection) and b) watch a celestial encounter that takes place twice every hundred years or so. The last transit of Venus occurred June 8th 2004 and the next won’t happen until December 2117.

Starting at 8:15 in the morning and completing its journey at 2:45, Venus was sometimes a little difficult to see as clouds scudded across the sky. We had sporadic visual contact with Venus from 8:15 to 9:40 and then once again at around 1pm; clouds started to cover the sun around 2:30 and we feared that was the end of it. Then the skies cleared one final time and we were able to watch as Venus completed its transit across the face of the sun.


A Different Point of View...

As if being able to see the transit of Venus wasn't cool enough, astrophotographer Theirry Legault captured this amazing image of the Hubble Space Telescope transiting the Sun along side Venus.  This image comes courtesy of



Five Australian Space Apps Chosen for International Judging

Five Australian Space Apps Chosen for International Judging

On the 21st & 22nd April, NASA, in collaboration with 8 government agencies and 102 other organizations, hosted the International Space Apps Challenge in 25 cities around the world, including the International Space Station and McMurdo Station in Antarctica. The event brought together 2,083 registered participants to solve 71 challenges. More than 100 unique solutions were developed in less than 48 hours. After much deliberation, and on-line judging, 5 winners were selected from 37 finalists. Here's a wrap-up of all the excitement!

It's quite incredible what can be produced in a single weekend when you bring the right people together. There were many incredible ideas submitted to the Space Apps Challenge, and even though they might not have received a prize, the ideas discussed and projects started will likely continue on. The few deemed truly unique in the competition will be receiving additional assistance and funding. These are:

"Most Inspiring" Award to Planet Hopper"Best Use of Data" Award to Vicar2png
"Most Disruptive" Award to Growing Fruits:
Pineapple Project
"Most Innovative" Award to Strange Desk
 "Galactic Impact" Award to Growers Nation"People's Choice" Award to BitHarvester

The Australian solutions were VERY impressive and represented 5 of the 37 solutions put forward for international judging. The Watch Out - Hazard Map finished in the top 10 of the on-line judging with the My Travel App in 11th place. Congratulations to ALL the Australian participants and the industry specialists that supported them throughout the weekend.

Watch Out - Hazard Map - Melbourne
This is an app that harvests and analyses real time hazard data from social media e.g. Twitter and provides a user friendly web based visualisation of the data. The web mapping system locates a variety of disasters using the twitter data. Please see attached the power-point presentation for more information.

Commonality Of Nasa Datasets
This RDFS schema attempts to capture the commonalities between datasets acquired by NASA to allow citizen scientists and data mining softwares to quickly locate relevant datasets required to answer questions posed in broad terms. Such as: "Has the sea level risen in the last 10 years ?" - can be answered using observations of the earth sea levels done using any sensor over the last 2000-2011 time period. "Is there life on another planet ?" - can be answered by data from all astronomical observations of exo-planets.

Satellite Data Correlation Tool
The night-time lighting across a region can be used as a proxy to gauge the level of electrification in that region and as a consequence the development in that area. We have produced a server and client application to visualize the growth in electrification and population across the globe

Mytravel (Melbourne)
This prototype has been developed to demonstrate how transport and weather data can be represented to an easy to read format with the aim of changing travel behaviour. Currently the app allows a user to record travel information and calculate and compare their Carbon impact against the wider community. The aim of this project is to begin community movement by giving people information to make greener travel decisions. During our project we collaborated with the team from Canberra who prepared a business case for the application.

My Travel App
How would you like to save time, money, effort on your daily commute while ALSO helping the environment? What if I said it was as easy as downloading an app to your smartphone or opening up a browser, entering your trip details while we calculate the optimum route for you! The solution we propose for the My Travel Impact challenge does just that! By aggregating yours and others usage data, calculating carbon usage based on the distance and mode of transport you take, this app will provide you with a list optimised routes detailing time, cost and carbon usage to give you ultimate control on your journey!

The Space Apps Challenge was held to promote the use of space data and encourage international and interdisciplinary collaboration. Australia took the concept of collaboration and interdisciplinary to the extreme....

The four Australian events (Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide & Sydney) were conducted as one event connected via video conference, skype, pirate pad, and any other digital tool the participants could get their hands on. Throughout the weekend they worked together and connected with other events worldwide.

The Australian event(s) brought together experts from a variety of industries to work with coders and explore how they could benefit from using space data. The participants were supported by experts from the Built Environment (Arup), ICT (NICTACiSRA and Aerometrex). The Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia and CSIRO provided access to space data and engineers from the Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre at Mt Stromlo and the Engineers Australia National Committee for Space Engineering were available to assist with technology based solutions. Staff from VSSEC and the Flinders University Centre for Science Education in the 2st Century assisted with education and citizen science solutions.

VSSEC was thrilled to have the support of Chris Gerty, from NASA, and Michael Brennan, from Second Muse. Chris and Michael were part of the global event organising team and very experienced in the use of open data and open technology.

As well as connecting professionals, the event provided an opportunity for undergraduate and post graduate students to get involved and network with industry.

A Total of 64 challenges were proposed in four categories: Software; Hardware; Citizen Science; and Data Visualisation

You can explore all the challenges that were set and the full list of solutions put forward for global judging. The Australian challenges and solutions are highlighted in red.

J-Track 3D Satellite Tracking Augmentation For NEOsOur SphereOcean Color Analysis
GMAT: NASA Mission SimulatorHam, Beacon & HacksLow Cost Space Guidance System
Fragile Oasis: Map-a-DifferenceMy Travel ImpactArtistic Data Materialization: Beyond Visualization
NASA Planetary Data System InterfaceAugmented Reality Alien SkiesWorld Wind iGlobe
Preliminary Design for Open Data APIWeLoveData ChallengeMagnetic Field Line
Create Semantic Data Descriptor File PhoneSat: Android Apps in SpaceInformation Access for Development
Space-based 3D Printing platformWeather SymbolsGMAT: Plugin Repository
ISSLive! ChallengesNairobi RoboticsGMAT: Mission Simulation Library
MathTrax ChallengesSolutions for Unposted ChallengesActivity Sensing
Suborbital Payload for Citizen Science (Exposed to Space)"Where is the Fleet?"Climate Adaptation
Brightest NightSuborbital Payload for Citizen Science (Pressurized)Tour of the Solar System
A View from SpaceInformation Sharing for Humanitarian Crisis ResponseCarryAll Family & Friends Mobile App
Geo-visualization library for mobile devicesA New Command and Control Protocol for CubeSats Space-Geosocial App
#HazardMap - Real time hazard mapping by scraping social mediaOffline-Online ProblemVisualize the “All-too-Common Astronomy/Solar System Misconceptions” 
OpenROV Framework DevelopmentOptimal Lunar Landing SitesWhole View from ISS
Satellite Imagery to Assess Rural ElectrificationExoAPISERVIR Open Hardware Camera Project
Earth Day: Space Data for the PlanetOpen Data Challenge -- KeplerThe Pineapple Project: Applying climate data to agricultural planning
Predict the SkyHandheld Hardware for Citizen ScienceMobile Environment Mapping
Grower's NationRedesign the Voyager Golden RecordCommodities Pricing Tool for Rural Communities
Space TrumpsAurora Layer for Google EarthSatellite-based estimation of watershed-level evapotranspiration and water storage
Size of the Earth AppDark Skies AppBakerFaire
HTML5 App to access NASA Earth Observations website    

From these challenges more than 100 solutions were developed within 24 hours. From the final list of solutions, 37 were selected for international judging, 5 of these were from Australia.

Watch Out - Hazard Map - MelbourneMelbournePatched Cone ApproachStuttgart
Commonality Of Nasa DatasetsAdelaideC.E.R.E.S.New York
Fragile Oasis Mobile AppTel AvivWebcam ApproachStuttgart
Mytravel (Melbourne)MelbourneExoapi.ComNew York
Lunar Terrain Roughness MapperTel AvivDaily MythsSan Francisco
Satellite Data Correlation ToolSydneyTravelisaJakarta
Data MajicNairobiAurora LiveVancouver
LinkastarTokyoHxl ExporterJakarta
Size Of Earth Movie & Play-Doh Planets TutorialSão PauloCode/Game Controller/Water Sampling MechanismSan Francisco
Space Ring Design AppTokyoMy Travel AppCanberra
Planet HopperOxfordIsslive Api And Limit Notification SystemBangalore
Grower'S NationExeterAurora Project: Model & DataDublin
Caribbean FruitsSanto DomingoKepler VisualizerBangalore
Connect And Survive!ExeterSpatium QuaestionriumVancouver
Web Page For Nasa Planetary Data SystemSanto DomingoFragile Oasis Mashup Lausanne
Command And Control Protocol For CubesatsLausanneSocial HazardSantiago
Mobile Web App In Html5 Virtual ParticipationVicar2PngVirtual Participation
Wet (Water Evaluation Tool)Miami  

Education Events at the International Conference on High Energy Physics

Education Events at the International Conference on High Energy Physics

The 36th International Conference on High Energy Physics will be held in Melbourne from 4th to 11th July. The conference will report on the latest efforts to find the Higgs boson among other aspects of high energy physics. It will also offer a dedicated Education and Outreach stream and a range of opportunities for students and teachers.

On Friday 6th July, the Centre of Excellence for Particle Physics (CoEPP) and the Australian Synchrotron extends a special invitation to high-achieving year 11 and 12 students studying physics to attend the Particle Physics Masterclass: Search for the building blocks of the Universe

The Masterclass is based on current research at the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest particle accelerator tasked with a mission to explore the fundamental building blocks of the universe. It will be taught by researchers working at the cutting-edge of science and will provide you with an overview of the physics involved in the LHC experiments. The students will work with real data from the LHC and get to see a real-live accelerator in action! The event is free, but space is limited. Interested students should complete the on-line registration form

On Friday 6th July, there will be a Workshop for teachers. Teachers will have an opportunity to meet leaders from major international laboratories—as well take part in specially targeted lectures—with a focus on engaging young scientists in frontier physics. Teachers from regional areas are encouraged to attend and the organisers will provide a number of bursaries to cover accommodation costs for those who need to stay overnight. The event is free, but space is limited. Interested teachers should complete the on-line registration form.

The Australian Institute of Physics (Vic Branch) Education Committee will partially cover the registration fee for three teachers who wish to attend this international conference.  The registration fee for the full conference is $875.  The Committee is able to assist three teachers with a subsidy of $400 each.  Please email Dan O'Keeffe for more details and to apply.

MoonBots 2012 Challenge Open for Registration

MoonBots 2012 Challenge Open for Registration

The third annual MoonBots contest challenges teams of 2-5 people, between 9-17 years old, from anywhere in the world, to study the history of artifacts left on the Moon, and learn about the new and exciting things that private industry and government are doing in the arena of space exploration, including the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE.

Students use their Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) skills to design their ultimate lunar landscape challenge course for a LEGO MINDSTORMS robot. The MoonBots website offers a range of Educational Resources to support teams. In Phase One, teams produce a fun, creative and scientific video to share their lunar landscape challenge.

From these submissions, 30 teams will be chosen as finalists and provided a budget to build their ultimate lunar landscape during Phase Two. They will also receive a free LEGO MINDSTORMS Robot that they will program to complete a course on their Moon. These teams will share their achievements during a live broadcast and public display of their designs. This will enable people from all over the world to not only see the team’s robot and challenge courses but also to play the game with the team. The Grand Prize winners will receive a trip for the team and their families to visit the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems on the Island of Hawaii and learn about how the Hawaiian landscape today helps scientists prepare to explore the Moon

Free registration and Phase One of the contest will be open until the 15th July. Phase Two of the contest begins 1st August through to the 15th November. Visit the MoonBots website for more information, competition guidelines and registration. 

Win the Chance to Meet Dame Linda Partridge and Tour Australia's Most Powerful Supercomputer

Win the Chance to Meet Dame Linda Partridge and Tour Australia's Most Powerful Supercomputer

The Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative (VLSCI) is inviting three Year 11 or 12 students with a passion for Biology and ICT, and a teacher of their choice, to:

- tour Australia’s most powerful supercomputer
- attend the Graham Clark Oration presented by Dame Linda Partridge
- meet Dame Linda, and
- join an invitation only dinner as their guest

To win this opportunity email your response to the following question to no later than Friday 29th June, 2012

How do you think high performance computing will impact health in the future?

Download a flyer and circulate this opportunity to any budding young scientists or engineers you know.

The Graeme Clarke Oration celebrates advances where biology, computing and engineering come together.

Grahame Clark Oration
Wednesday 18th July, 2012
5:30pm for a 6:15pm presentation 

Melbourne Convention Centre
1 Convention Centre Place
South Warf 

To register for this FREE public event visit the registration website


In the 2012 Graeme Clarke Oration Dame Linda Partridge Expolores: Forever Young?

Professor Dame Linda Partridge imagines a future in which we all stay young by taking a pill that reduces the impact of aging. She’s not promising immortality, rather she’s working toward a future in which we age gracefully - healthy, happy and active to the end.

Dame Linda heads research teams at University College London, and is the founding director of the Max Planck Institute for Biology of Aging, Cologne. Her work has focused on the genetics of age-related diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer's.

The VLSCI is an initiative of the Victorian Government in partnership with the University of Melbourne and the IBM Collaboratory for Life Sciences, Melbourne. It exists for all Victorian researchers and will be one of the top 5 life science computation facilities worldwide by 2013.

3D AstroTours are Back these School Holidays at Swinburne

3D AstroTours are Back these School Holidays at Swinburne

Swinburn Astrophysics and Supercomputing are offering you a chance to Experience the Universe in 3D during the July school holidays. The 50-minute AstroTours will include "Mars", the brand new 3D movie made by Swinburne 3D Productions.  Take the holiday of a lifetime to the Red Planet!

10am, Tuesday 3 July
2pm, Wednesday 4 July
2pm, Wednesday 11 July
2pm, Thursday 12 July

Bookings are essential and can be made via email to or call Elizabeth Thackray on 9214 5569. Cost is $10 per person which can be made at the door by cash or cheque.

Please arrive at least 10-15 minutes before the advertised start time. Each session will run for 50 minutes.

AstroTours are held in the Swinburne University Virtual Reality Theatre, ground floor of the AR building (AR104).  For a map and directions to the theatre visit

The sessions are tailored for the general public and children aged 6+ should enjoy the movies and interactive presentations.

NB: The policy for Astro tours is that the minimum age is 6 years old and from an OH&S issue no prams/strollers are allowed in the theatre. See for more information.

Engineering Week 2012

Every day of the year, Australian engineers are working hard to make our world a better place, and push the boundaries of what is possible. For seven days in August, Engineers Australia would like to share these stories with you, with an aim to get young minds marveling at just what engineers do for our community, as well as the planet.

Events that will take place nation-wide will cater for both the curious novice and seasoned expert.

School activities for your students:
Engineers in conjunction with the engineering industry and universities will deliver the following free events for high school students and maths and science teachers:
-  Discover Engineering  program - book an engineer to attend your school
Aurecon Bridge Competition
- Robotics Workshop & Competition
- Site tour of AAMI Park Stadium
- Teamwork in Engineering Practice at Victoria University
- M80 Upgrade Bus Tour
- GM Holden school activity
- Behind the Scenes of Defense Force Recruiting
- Arup’s story behind the infinity building (Penleigh and Essendon Senior School)
- Learning from failures – advances in forensic structural engineering
For teachers:
Linking Engineers and Scientists with Teachers short course

To view the full list of free events, seminars and site tours during Australian Engineering Week, visit


Friday 10th August: Discover Engineering Day @ Quantum, Macleod West
Discover Engineering Day is a new initiative stemmed from Engineers Australia Discover Engineering schools program. On Friday 10th August, Engineers Australia will host a half day work shop aimed at Year 9-10 students who will have an exclusive opportunity to take part in a range of hands-on activities and interactive programs which will give insight into the wonderful world of engineering. To register your school please contact Elaina Pittas on 9321 1703 or Groups of up to 20 can be taken from each school. Places are limited so register early!

AEW is proudly sponsored by Davies Collison Cave, Deakin University, RMIT University and Victoria University

NASA 2011 Spinoff Report Now Available

NASA 2011 Spinoff Report Now Available

Each year NASA publishes a Spinoff report that highlights the transfer of NASA technology to the private sector. It demonstrates the possibility to apply aerospace technology in different environments and highlights the ingenuity of inventors, entrepreneurs, and application engineers. This is a great way to demonstrate to students that space is about more than launching rockets!

The total number of stories published since 1976 is nearly 1,800, which does not include approximately 100 stories featured in the 1973 and 1974 reports. Download a free copy of the report.

Have some fun and play the NASA Glen Spinoffs. Can YOU beat the top score?


Wallace and Gromit's World of Invention at Scienceworks

Wallace and Gromit's World of Invention at Scienceworks

Wallace and Gromit are the brainchild of Nick Park, and are the main characters in short clay animation films such as A Grand Day Out, A Close Shave, The Wrong Trousers, The Curse of the Were-rabbit and A Matter of Loaf and Death.

Most recently, Wallace and Gromit have played host to "A World of Invention" TV series, that takes a light-hearted look at real-life contraptions, gadgets and inventions and aims to inspire a whole new generation of innovative minds by showing them real, but mind-boggling, machines and inventions from around the world that have influenced Wallace's 'illustrious' inventing career.

Victoria has been a centre of creativity and innovation from the nineteenth century through to the modern day. The new Wallace & Gromit's World of Invention exhibit at Scienceworks (19th May - 11th Nov, 2012) features some of the great inventions from Museum Victoria's collections as well as original Wallace and Gromit sets and some great hands-on activities.

The exhibition also looks at how people can protect their ideas using intellectual property. With the support of IP Australia the exhibit explores patents, registered designs, trademarks, plant breeders' rights and copyright.

Wallace and Gromit isn't only for littel kids. Big Kid's Cracking Night Out is back by popular demand, but this time with a Wallace and Gromit twist!

Relive your childhood and have a cracking good night out at Scienceworks!
- Tinker and play in Scienceworks' brand new exhibition, Wallace & Gromit's World of Invention;
- Be dazzled by Fire and Light Show in the Lightning Room;
- Play with lasers in the new Playing with Light exhibition;
- Journey to the stars and beyond in the Melbourne Planetarium;
- AND more!

Big Kids' Cracking Night Out is strictly for big kids only - you must be 18 years and over. Beer, wine, soft drink and food will be available to purchase on the night!

Saturday 26 May 2012
6:00 PM - 10:00 PM
Adults $22, Concessions & MV Members $20