Pollen InterACTive!

30th August 2019

If the weather outside on 10 August 2019 in Canberra was cold and dull, the atmosphere inside the Shine Dome at the Australian Academy of Science was anything but. It was a day that was all about science in action, with lots of interactive fun and hands-on learning and knowledge sharing.

As part of this year’s National Science Week in the ACT, InterACTive Science ran an engaging, all-things-science community event. InterACTive by day, targeted at families, turned into an equally captivating evening session, Science after Dark. And joining in the initiative to spread the fun and learning was the ANU Archaeology and Natural History (ANH) team, with their stalls titled, What’s in Your Honey? and Lake George – Now and Then. They showcased a unique aspect of the science they do; the study of pollen and its myriad applications for comprehending the world around us.

What's in Your Honey? and Lake George - Now and Then

The exhibits helped the audience understand ancient and modern landscape change, the respiratory health of our cities, and bee behaviour in the production of honey.

Masters student Vicki Miller and Laboratory Coordinator Ulrike Proske

Pollen under the microscope

The team captivated both children and adults with their exhibition of pollen under the microscope, as well as handheld 3D models printed at 3,000 times their actual size. The 3D pollen models are part of an ANU Teaching Enhancement Grant awarded to Dr Janelle Stevenson in 2018.

Dr Janelle Stevenson

3D-printed pollen grains and other samples

Honey sampling

Educational fun was a highlight for families during the afternoon session, with visitors being able to see what’s in a honey sample and even do a bit of time-travelling back to when Canberra was clothed in rainforest 2 million years ago.

They were also treated to a guessing game that highlighted how minute yet how critical pollen is to our environment: how many pollen grains could fit into a 250ml jar.

Up for grabs as a prize? A 3D-printed pollen grain!

Young enthusiasts playing the pollen guessing game!

Amazingly enough, there were several correct guesses—about 70—and the ANH team was nearly out of pollen grains by 5pm! And in case you’re wondering what the answer is …hold your breath…

...13 billion pollen grains!

If you attended the pollen exhibition at InterACTive this year, we would love to hear about your experience and share any photos you have.

Write to us at communicate.chl@anu.edu.au with your stories, anecdotes and audio-visual footage of this or any other event or experience you’d like us to know about.

Updated:  7 July 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, Culture, History & Language/Page Contact:  CHL webmaster