23 things that will blow your mind at World Science Festival Brisbane

Watch science ignite this March when the second World Science Festival Brisbane pops, rocks and sizzles into the city. From art and theatre to thought-leadership talks and hands-on activities, 2017’s festival will be exploring the intersection of science and art across five days. 

World Science Festival Entrance

If you think this festival is just for science nerds, take off your assumption hat and have a closer look below.

1. Watch turtles hatch at the Queensland Museum

World Science Festival

Currently being incubated at the Queensland Museum, turtle hatchlings have been timed to emerge from their shells during the World Science Festival Brisbane in March. Go along to the museum to view them before they get released offshore in North Queensland.

2. See a masterpiece performed LIVE

2001 A Space Odyssey

This is huge. In a Queensland first, WSFB will screen Stanley Kubrick’s seminal masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey with the incredible score performed live by the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and the Australian Voices choir. Anyone who adores music, is a film buff or just loves anything good, this perfect blend of science and art is for you.

3. Science in the streets 

World Science Festival

South Bank will transform into a science playground with over 40 hands-on and immersive activities that will explore the science of fossils, spiders, slime, drones and so much more. Head to the Cultural Forecourt and get involved over two days.

4. Let’s talk about flight club

Just to be clear: it’s flight club, not fight club and therefore is very much able to be discussed. In this hands-on workshop, explore how the animal kingdom has perfected the art of travelling the skies and be inspired to make your own winged creation. 

5. Catch a classic film

Are space movies and sci-fi movies actually that realistic? Follow their evolution with a science-fiction film from each decade, beginning with 1976’s The Man Who Fell To Earth and bringing us to 2014’s Interstellar. Following the screening of 2017’s Hidden Figures there will be a panel of extraordinary women working within the science and arts industries.

6. Feed your mind

Brain Food Breakfast Series

Go along to the Brain Food Breakfast Series held on each morning of the festival to see and hear scientists sharing their science-related stories, knowledge and experiences. Talk about the Big Bang over a cup of coffee with Associate Professor Alan Duffy and Dr Harry Cliff, take in a sensory experience of food with Dr Heather Smyth or give your brain a boost with Dr Karl as he shares his knowledge on all things health.

7. Separate the facts from fiction

Be a part of the interactive Fact or Fiction 2.0 as the team of experts go beyond science and ask the hard-hitting questions: how much does the internet weigh, what is the science behind Facebook? You can be part of the action, answering questions live on your smart devices and help separate the science from the science fiction.

8. Whirl through time and space with Doctor Karl

World Science Festival

Doctor Karl will present Extreme Moments in Science. If you’re looking for answers to questions you’ve never even thought to ask, this is the presentation for you.

9. Step inside the world’s greatest experiment

Hadron Collider
Image Credit: Nick Rochowski

Fresh from the Science Museum in London, the Hadron Collider exhibition celebrates the world’s largest and most powerful accelerator. Buried deep underground beneath the border of Switzerland and France, the actual Hadron Collider is the work of over 10,000 men and women. This is your chance to learn about this incredible experiment. Don't worry if you do miss out during the festival as the exhibition will be in Brisbane until 25 April.

10. Water talks

It is our most precious and our most scarce resource. As part of World Water Day on 22 March, World Science Festival Brisbane will host the Water Talks series, examining the successes and challenges being faced on our way to achieving clean, accessible and sustainably managed water for all by 2030.

11. Meet people with cool jobs

World Science Festival Brisbane

A NASA astronaut, a geologist exploring strategies for missions to Mars and a scientist working in koala conservation. Take this opportunity to meet these incredible people – any many more – with the coolest jobs in science, to ask them questions and hear their stories. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in science, this is a must-attend event for you.

12. Reach for the stars

In 2016 astronomers announced the discovery of Proxima B, an Earth-sized exoplanet located about 4.25 light years from the Sun (that’s close in galaxy terms). This has sparked new discussion about finding an Earth 2.0 and further investment in space-travel technology. During the Earth 2.0 panel, experts will separate the fact from the fiction and discuss just how far we are from travelling through space.

13. Find a solution to the energy conundrum

The Energy Innovation Challenge presentation will see the four best idea submissions pitched to 14-year-old science prodigy Hannah Hirst. You can go along to the presentation and hear new and groundbreaking ideas surrounding energy sustainability.

14. Become an apprentice

You’re the apprentice – learn from the masters. Join real-life scientists in the lab, be a museum curator, try your hand at solving crimes or be a paleontologist’s apprentice for a day. Places are limited in these sessions, so if you think this is a chance to find your calling, do not miss out.

15. Celebrate women in science

Over the course of an hour and a half, a panel of four women working in science will share the path they’ve taken – the struggles and the successes – to get to where they are today. If you still don’t know what you want to be when you grow up, this may inspire you to decide.

16. Expand your mind with stacks of talks

World Science Festival

What’s science without a good old-fashioned debate? Listen in on panels made up of experts in their field discussing whether the future is in good hands, the new era of astronomy and protecting our beautiful oceans.

17. Stargaze with a scientist

Stargaze in South Bank’s Cultural Forecourt during Earth Hour and take in the beautiful night skies above Brisbane. There will be telescopes provided for you to explore and Associate Professor Alan Duffy will be on hand to help you unlock the secrets of the universe.

18. Science meets arts


A collaboration between Queensland Theatre Company and World Science Festival will bring us Constellations, a story about a beekeeper and a quantum physicist and the journey they take when their two worlds collide. The show will be followed by a discussion with Nick Payne and Professor Greene exploring our current understanding of the multiverse and what mysteries remain. 

19. Learn about the art of taxidermy

World Science Festival

Ever been curious about taxidermy? Queensland Museum’s very own taxidermist Alison Douglas will explore the history and practices of taxidermy and how her work helps bring to life the incredible exhibitions we see today.

20. Discover the future of driverless cars

We already have seen driverless car prototypes on the road thanks to the likes of Google, Volvo, Tesla and Uber, but it is predicted that within five years’ time, driverless cars will be the norm. Come along to hear about the evolution of this incredible technology and how it is a step towards developing the cities of the future – complete with integrated and intelligent infrastructure.

21. Get among the debate

Are you passionate about science or arts – or even both? It seems to us that you can’t have one without the other. Sit in on a panel of experts and hear their various perspectives on the topic as they discuss how they are linked, and why the relationship between the two never seems to be equal.

22. Listen to the world around you

There is more to sound than songs on the radio. Sound surrounds us – the chatter of voices, the hum of traffic, the chirping of birds. Visit the Queen Street Mall stage on 23 and 24 March between midday and 1.30pm to hear live and original soundscapes inspired by the world around us and created using innovative technology.

23. Walk the steps of Brisbane's scientific history 

World Science Festival

In partnership with World Science Festival Brisbane, the Brisbane Greeters have developed a special "Brisbane's Scientific Story" Greeter Trail experience around South Bank Parklands, Kangaroo Point, the Brisbane Botanic Gardens and the QUT Campus. Learn about Brisbane's sustainability footprint with a Brisbane Greeter along the South Bank Green Heart Greeter Trail. The tour focuses on Brisbane's water story covering South Bank's Rainbank Stormwater Harvesting Centre, the Rainforest Walk, Streets Beach and Brisbane's flood history.

If you are planning to go along to the World Science Festival Brisbane, take a look at one of Brian Greene's Science Unplugged videos to give you a little bit of an idea of what to expect. The full festival schedule can be found here.

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