I am a science communicator, writer and performer has contributed to projects throughout Australia, Vietnam, the USA and South Africa. I get passionate about the strangest things, like light striking a glass, or the wires in a charging cable. New facts are so desirable and delicious! Here, I want to channel this sense of wonder into artistic settings, like in the latest show, A Flying Photon – because everyone should give a flying photon about the world around them.
My education was a mix of arts and sciences – I still can’t see one working without the other: they are both ways to ask questions, observe the world around us, and look for answers. I’ve been writing poems for as long as I can remember (still waiting to write a good one), but I wrote my first essay on quarks in Year 10, the same time that I was designing sets and performing in the school’s production of The Boyfriend.
I managed to replicate my eclectic school studies in a Bachelor of Liberal Studies majoring in Physics and Art History & Theory (with nearly a minor in English, but I used those credits on a Life Drawing class), and I completed a course at the Actors’ Centre Australia on the side. Bundling up all these passions, I moved to Canberra and into a Graduate Diploma in Science Communication (known as the Shell Questacon Science Circus) in 2011, which had me travelling the country performing science shows in schools, including Indigenous Communities. I loved being on the road, seeing new places and sharing the joy I found in science. My favourite thing was to smash waterbombs over the audience in a demonstration of kinetic energy, best enjoyed on hot days.
When we weren’t on the road, we’d present shows and workshops via the digital studio (no waterbombs allowed). I experimented with the green screen, developed ways to connect with audiences through the camera, and utilised all the technology we had available. I would write and perform shows on many topics – from human health, to insects, to deep ocean habitats. I enjoyed this work so much it became my occupation for the next eight years. In that time, I toured Vietnam on a diplomatic mission to invigorate science education, helped save a science centre in regional Australia from closing, broadcast the frontline of ocean exploration from the bottom of the Pacific, and, in the South African desert, supported the launch of one of the largest science experiments in the world. I also co-authored a paper on science poetry, and had a couple of poems published. See the interview with Cosmos Magazine on this very topic: A science poet's guide to the galaxy.
I've had roles in strategic marketing, events, PR, communications and education across government organisations, charities and corporate enterprise, nearly always with a scientific angle. It's all just about (factual) storytelling in different spaces.
Science communication is so varied, so wild, so inclusive. And there could be so much more of it. I have many science communicator heroes – Carl Sagan in particular, and I love what Brian Cox and his team are producing. There is a joy and excitement in the work they do, but they look too far afield, and can miss the exquisite physics happening here on Earth by being distracted by the promise of space (the human race should be grounded until they clean up their room, anyway).
Rachel Rayner, Science Explainer was created from this global exploration of science, art, and how we can connect with both to elevate our minds. I am now touring energetic comedy shows (backed by science), facilitating workshops and writing creatively about all sorts of things!
Get in touch if you'd like to strengthen your ability to see the world around us in scientific, artistic and ultimately creative ways.
Delve into the world of quantum mechanics in this energetic comedy. This one-woman show is heading to the Adelaide Fringe Festival 2022.
Spreading the joy of science poetry, Rachel has run workshops, written articles and judged competitions on the topic in Australia, South Africa and the USA. She is the co-author on the leading academic paper on the subject and has had her poems published in journals such as 'Photonics' in the Consilience journal.
Communicating science is all about translating the strange facts about our universe into events, activities, articles and educational resources. With an academic background in physics and time in the field with oceanographers and marine biologists, Rachel understands the science and knows how to bring it to diverse audiences.
From shaping the public face of the Discovery Science and Technology Centre, to making technical products accessible at Planet Ark Power, to helping start-ups find their voice, Rachel has spent the past seven years expanding organisations' reach through marketing and communications.
After four years of delivering green-screen, on-camera educational workshops for students from Sydney to Christmas Island, Rachel knows the ins and outs of working with the camera. Radio interviews have been pivotal to her roles in marketing and media, giving her a great range of knowledge in using both mediums.
Having always loved the stage, Rachel got to make it a profession as she toured nationally and internationally with Questacon. This has continued throughout her career as she writes and performs a variety of content. She continually takes up professional development opportunities and is happy to share her expertise!
Rachel was in the initial team that developed programs for the Ian Potter Technology Learning Centre. All programs and resources were built around innovative thinking and were designed for young students, teachers and the general public. She developed similar products for other organisations globally.
A stickler for brand authenticity, Rachel looks for ways for organisations to create and maintain an identity. She helped rebuild the brand voice for the Discovery Science and Technology Centre, supported South African science organisations articulate their image, and kept Planet Ark Power's branding consistent.
Rachel's breadth of experience from her time on the E/V Nautilus, to developing educational resources, to writing on science poetry, has led to appearances at the Art is...Festival, National Arts Festival (South Africa), and National Science Week (South Africa & Australia), DATTA Vic Conference, and the ASC Conference.