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Sci-ku: where art meets science


If you have views about victuals and a propensity to express them in verse, you can tout your talents in the 2014 RiAus Sci-ku competition.

“Sci-ku has been running annually since 2009 and was designed to bring the arts and science together,” RiAus programs coordinator Kiran Groom says of the competition, which opens this week.

“Often the two disciplines don’t combine, but there’s actually more of a crossover than most people think – people who are involved in the field of science are often interested in the arts as well.”

Sci-ku has a different theme each year, with entrants encouraged to submit a haiku – a Japanese-style poem of three lines.

“This year the theme is food, in recognition of 2014 being the UN International Year of Family Farming, and linking with the National Science Week theme Food for our Future,” Groom says.

Food is a broad topic with lots of creative scope, she expects everyone will interpret it differently.

“RiAus director Dr Paul Willis has already written his own sci-kus on the topics of nutrition, sustainability and genetically modified food to get the creative juices flowing. These are posted on the RiAus website, along with examples of winning entries from previous years.”

Are we eating food
we will be eating again
today, tomorrow
Paul Willis

The Sci-ku competition is part of the Great Big Science Read, which runs annually throughout August, coinciding with Book Week and National Science Week.

“The idea was to do something that is complementary rather than competing with these two big festivals, to involve people from all over Australia and to create conversations about science. As well as the open category, the competition has primary and secondary schools categories, which allow schools in regional parts of Australia to get involved also.”

Past Sci-ku themes have included maths and statistics and farming.

“When Sci-ku started in 2009 we received less than 100 entries,” says Groom, “but last year we received 600 from all over Australia and overseas. And with people talking about Sci-ku on social media, the reach of the program is up to 4000 people. That’s a great result.

“We just don’t want to be talking to people who are already interested in science, Sci-ku is about bringing new people into the world of science.”

Entry guidelines and prize details can be found on the RiAus website. The Twitter hashtag is #Sciku.

Winning sci-kus from last year’s competition:

Under Pressure 

Say I was Newton
And stood in a metre square
Would I be Pascal?
– Dave Gower (open category)

Two Adjacent Signs

Two adjacent signs
Plus, plus equals positive
minus, minus same
Biafra, 13 (secondary category)


To subtract numbers.
In columns, work from the right.
When in need, borrow.
Raevn, 9 (primary category)

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