Hub delivers interactive presentations at Questacon

Above image caption: Hub Steering Committee Chair Michael Sharpe (left) with Hub Researcher Anirban Ghose and the guitar made of recycled waste in front of a permanent Questacon display featuring Hub Leader Prof Veena Sahajwalla.

On 19 August 2023, Hub representatives gave a series of talks and interactive displays at Questacon as part of National Science Week.

The Hub was invited by the National Environmental Science Program of the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water to participate as part of the Department's "take over" of Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre in Canberra, as highlighted by our sister hub, Climate Systems.

Hub Leader Prof Veena was joined by Hub Steering Committee Chair Michael Sharpe, Hub researcher Anirban Ghose and a support team (below image) in delivering three presentations over the course of the day.

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They spoke about the role of the hub and some of its projects in helping to create more sustainable communities and reduce waste, including by using waste as a manufacturing feedstock, such as reforming waste plastics into filament for 3D printing.

A Fender-like guitar predominantly made from recycled wastes using innovative technology developed by Prof Veena's UNSW SMaRT Centre was displayed and Hub Indigenous collaborator, Firesticks CEO Victor Steffensen, showed one of his many talents in playing the guitar (below).

Victor also spoke at the event about the work Firesticks does in relation to Indigenous land management and burning practices, and gave an overview of a planned Hub project where waste plant matter and other waste like plastics collected from various remote and regional locations will be investigated to be reformed into feedstock for manufacturing.

Hundreds of members of the public attending the interactive displays and presentations. See below certificate was provided by the Office of the Science Convenor in recognition of the SCAW Hub’s contribution to the Department's Questacon Takeover event for National Science Week.

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See the Department's news story

The guitar also got the thumbs up from acclaimed singer and songwriter Paul Kelly at the Garma Festival.

Paul Kelly with guitar at Garma

Above Image caption: Paul Kelly checks out the Ghost Net guitar with Bruce Rose from Parks Australia’s Ghost Nets Initiative. Photo courtesy of Dale Morris, Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Using SMaRT's Green Ceramics and Plastics MICROfactorieTM Technologies, the guitar was made from a variety of wastes including from "ghost nets" - old fishing nets - and other marine debris and waste materials.

This comes as a result of SMaRT's involvement in ghost net research for Marine Parks Australia, part of the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water.

Paul Kelly tried guitar - a great conversation starter - at this year’s Garma Festival 🎶 where it was passed around to the joy of those who tried it.

Ghost nets arriving in the Gulf from the Arafura and Timor seas to the north take a heavy toll on wildlife in the Gulf including endangered turtle 🐢 species.

Indigenous Rangers around the Gulf are working to remove the nets and debris. The Rangers are supported in this work through Parks Australia’s Ghost Nets Initiative which funds the Indigenous Rangers Coastal Clean-up Project delivered by the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry's Biosecurity, Plant 🌱 and Science Services Division.

With funding from the Ghost Nets Initiative, the UNSW SMaRT Centre has been trialling turning ghost nets into green ceramics though our MICROfactorieTM technologies.

As Marine Parks Australia said: "It turns out that the nets are well suited for making a range of green ceramic products. The Ghost-netcaster guitar is a great example of the versatility of this material, made in part from nets collected by Indigenous Rangers 🤠 from the waters and beaches of the Gulf of Carpentaria."

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