The Hunter Innovation and Science Hub was created through Inspiring Australia’s Regional Science Hubs Initiative in 2014. The focus of the group is to build a collaborative network of initiatives to enhance community Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths (STEM) engagement in the Hunter.
Local science providers from industry to education and outreach have joined the Hub hoping to engage the community with STEM and promote the Hunter region as a leader in the sciences. The Hub began with a focus on National Science Week every August and has since has moved on to offer events and engagement throughout the year. A Hub coordinator currently works one day per week through the generous donation of the Science and Engineering Challenge.
The first Hunter Science Festival, our premier event, was held at the Newcastle Museum in August 2014 during National Science Week www.scienceweek.net.au. The event gathered audiences of all ages from the community. The Festival expanded in 2015, with a huge number of exhibitors and stalls being displayed to showcase all aspects of STEM. This event attracted over 1000 people from a broad cross section of the community. Further expansion of the Festival occurred in 2016 lead to more than 1500 community members attend the day. The Festival has previously and will continue to occur thanks to the collaboration and cooperation between the established and reputable organisations that make up the Hunter Innovation and Science Hub.
The Hub runs and promotes a huge range of events during National Science Week and throughout the rest of the year. Popular events held in 2016 include the sold-out ‘Drones in the Vines’, ‘Bots and Beers’ and the CSIRO Energy Centre tour. The vast majority of events run by the Hub are free or provided at a very low cost to ensure accessibility to a wide cross-section of the community.
Generous sponsorship from Port Waratah Coal Services in 2016 has allowed us to develop branding and an interactive website for the community to engage with us.
Over the past three years, the Hub has grown to over 40 partner organisations from across the region. Together we are ensuring that there are valuable STEM activities, events and information available to the wider Hunter community.
* How Young People are Faring, Foundation for Young Australians, 2015
Inspiring Australia is the national strategy for community engagement with science, technology and innovation. Part of the Australian Government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda http://www.innovation.gov.au/ in partnership with State and Territory governments, its national and regional programs build collaboration and promote public participation in a wide range of science, technology and innovation initiatives. Inspiring Australia seeks to attract national and international interest and take the science and innovation agenda into new arenas, promoting the relevance of science and technology to everyday life in interesting and entertaining ways. In NSW the strategy is supported by the Office of the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer and with the state manager hosted by the University of Sydney.