Stories of Discovery

DISCOVERY is the process of finding some – THING for the first time. Discoveries can be exciting, scary and even hazardous. Some scientific discoveries are all three. And, like letting a genie out of its bottle, it’s nigh-on impossible to put them back!

Origins of the Future by Sharon Davson

Mother of Invention
by Celia Berrell

Neotenic humankind
is ceaseless of inquiring mind.
With science and technology
the stopper’s out, dynamically!

From fire to furnaced energy;
from steam to electricity.
We modify genetically
and glean the stars effectively.

We can’t slow down this gain in pace.
The fascination’s well in place.
Much to learn – with good intention
drives this mother of invention.


Humans have made life-changing and world-altering discoveries throughout history. Which of the following three discoveries do you think is worthy of being in a SCIENCE HALL OF FAME?

First is a young cave-man. Let’s call him Ugg. Ugg accidentally discovered how to start a fire with sparks from two stones. Do you think his parents praised him for giving them a reliable way to keep warm, protect them from predators and cook up a meaty meal? Or was he punished for accidentally setting fire to the forest and scorching his sister’s hair? Starting a fire is exciting but not without its dangers!

How we use and view scientific discoveries can depend on capability, culture and comprehension. Something once thought harmful can later be seen as helpful – as in this 16thC Astronomer’s story.

Galileo Galilei made the best telescopes of his time and gathered evidence for a heliocentric Solar System. Although it looks as though the heavens spin round the Earth, Galileo showed that the planets go round the Sun. When he published his findings, he was imprisoned for contradicting words in the Bible. Changing our understanding of how nature works can be scary. The Pope didn’t cope and sent him to jail!

What was first believed to be helpful turned out to be harmful in this French scientist’s story, where a “cure-all” turned out to be a “death-knell” for many.

Marie Curie won her first Nobel Prize in 1903. She discovered and named radioactivity and isolated the radioactive elements Polonium and Radium. At first, these glowing elements were thought to have health benefits. But then people began dying from exposure to their harmful radiation (including Marie). Science discoveries can be hazardous – especially if we don’t understand their implications.

Game Changers & Change Makers is this year’s National Science Week theme (which runs from 11-19 August). FIRE, a HELIOCENTRIC Solar System and RADIOACTIVITY are all Game Changers.

Whether we see these discoveries as helpful or harmful can depend on how they’re used.

Ugg, Galileo and Madame Curie were all Change Makers. They show how science is a journey of both successes and failures. We build and adjust our scientific thinking and understanding as new discoveries come to light. Our search for the truth about nature and the cosmos (including the effects of human actions) will continue. Our aim is to collectively understand enough to ensure these discoveries are used in a helpful rather than harmful manner.

So which of the three Discovery Stories did you choose for a SCIENCE HALL OF FAME? And who else would you include?

We can’t wait to discover your suggestions – especially if you can put yours in a Science Rhyme (and send to!

Christmas Chemistry

Just in time for Christmas …
Merrissa Sorrentino shares her latest poem:

Twas The Night Before Christmas
(Chemistry Edition)
by Merrissa Sorrentino

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the lab
not a beaker was burning, nor lid left uncapped.
Our goggles were hung in the cupboard with care
in the hopes that St Mendeleev soon would be there.

The chemists were nestled, all snug in their coats
going over molecular formula notes.
The Professor in glasses reciting compounds
had just finished jotting the last of them down

when outside the door there arose such a clatter.
I sprang from my desk to see – what was the matter?
We raced down the hallway in a quantum-like flash
dodging the test tubes and measuring flasks.

The light of the fluorescent tubes up above
gave a lustre as bright as my chemical gloves
when what, to my wandering eyes, should appear
but a Chemist with Eight Elemental Reindeer!

Faster than light, these elements came.
He whistled and shouted and called them by name:

“Now Bismuth! Now Carbon! Now Krypton and Bromine!
On Copper! On Cobalt! On Xenon and Fluorine!
From out of the hallway and into the class
they formed an unusual luminous gas.

Like heat that emerges within a reaction
their atoms were striving for more interaction.
So off with their lids, the elements flew
with a gift for the lab, and St Mendeleev too.

And then in a startle, I heard from the hall
the clinking of pipettes and glass-mixing rods.
As I drew in my head and was turning to look
St Dmitri appeared with his chemistry book.

He was dressed all in white, from his head to his foot
but his coat was all tarnished with ashes and soot.
With a bundle of research files flung on his back
he looked like a student who’s ready for class.

His eyes – how they peered – as he looked all around.
His cheeks – were as pink as a Lithium compound.
Through the beard on his chin, in Titanium white
the smirk on his face conveyed utter delight.

The stub of his pencil, he held in his hand
as a sign of a very intelligent man.
And with it, he granted us wisdom and knowledge
which quickly began to envelop the college.

He spoke of a dream where elements took structure
like a symphony of atoms, and he, the conductor.
When arranged on the table in front of us all
he gave us a wink, then was gone from the hall.

He went in a flash as he called for his Elements.
Away they all flew in a cloud of intelligence.
But I heard him yell out – before fading away …

“HAPPY RESEARCH and to all, a good day!”

SUNDAY 22nd October PARTY

Our annual Picture-Book Poetry Garden Party was held at the Holiday Inn Cairns Harbourside, 209 Esplanade, Cairns on Sunday 22nd October from 2-3pm. It’s like Book Week meets National Science Week … with a poetic twist! 2017 Poetry Party Poster medium   This year’s feature author was Pamela Galeano with her picture-book Glissandra the Glider. As well as hearing an accomplished published author read some of their own work, we  learnt aspects of Pam’s writing journey as well.

People who brought a Picture-Book they liked,  received a raffle ticket for the draw for a book voucher from Collins Booksellers Smithfield. After a group photo of all those picture-books, everyone took their picture-book home with them.

This FREE event of Storytelling and Science Rhymes happened shortly after World Space Week. Students from Whitfield State School  recited their poems about Water (which were created for National Science Week) and Trinity Anglican School students shared their passions for Space and our Solar System. It was a cosmic event!

You can:

Sponsored by: Holiday Inn Cairns Harbourside & Collins Booksellers Smithfield

Hosted by: Science Rhymes & Holiday Inn Cairns Harbourside.

NatSciWeek celebrations 2017

This is it!  National Science Week is here (12-20 August).  On Monday, we have our Poetry Presentation of Science Rhymes at Whitfield State School.  Students from years 5 & 6 have created their own poems about WATER to compliment this year’s National Science Week theme of FUTURE EARTH – as water is important for future life on Earth.  (You can view the student’s poems on the Your Poems page.)

Program SM

Then on Wednesday 16th August, Jonathon and Coby are sharing their poems on ABC Far North Radio, just before the 7am news during BREAKFAST WITH KIER SHOREY.

WATER POEMS PLEASE for National Science Week

2017 is the International Year of Sustainable Tourism. As visitors to planet Earth, how we appreciate and care for limited resources such as water is important for our FUTURE EARTH (which is the school theme for this year’s National Science Week).

Poster NSW Water smaller
























At Science Rhymes, we’d love to include your poem about the science, beauty, mystery and/or environmental significance of water as we lead-up to National Science Week in Australia (12-20 August 2017). So put on your poetry hat and take the plunge! Send your H2O poems to

Click on Weird Water to view two colourful presentations about H2O science.

Here are some links to watery topics chosen by students at Whitfield State School:
EXPLODING H2O: a tiny spark is all it takes …


ICE FLOWERS: flimsy threads and graceful ribbons …


ICICLES: hanging like curtains of chandelier crystals …


FLOODS: deceptive and deadly …


We look forward to receiving your poems!


CAT-A-STATIC about World Poetry Day 2017

21st March, WORLD POETRY DAY “is a window onto the breath-taking diversity of humanity”, says UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova.  To celebrate, I’ve chosen to share a Science Rhyme  inspired by Nikola Tesla’s story about his childhood pet-cat, the black-Macak.  What sparks your poetic interest?

Cat-a-static by Celia Berrell
(Nikola Tesla 1856 – 1943)

Nicola Tesla's cat MACAK

Nicola Tesla’s cat

Nikola loved his childhood cat
the sleek, majestic black-Macak.
A cat whose fur would click and spark
when days were chilly, dry and dark
as stroking black-Macak’s fur coat
could cause a tiny lightning bolt.

Nikola Tesla loved his cat
the sparkling, zappy black-Macak.
That static electricity
inspired young Tesla, cleverly
inventing things quite technical.
Especially electrical.

From neon lights and radios
to radar and remote controls.
Transistors, robots, X-ray zones
and AC power to our homes.
Tesla had a genius knack
that started through his cat Macak!


You can read Nicola Tesla’s short story of his childhood in Yugoslavia 1939 HERE:

” … It happened that one day the cold was drier than ever before. People walking in the snow left a luminous trail behind them, and a snowball thrown against an obstacle gave a flare of light like a loaf of sugar cut with a knife. In the dusk of the evening, as I stroked Macak’s back, I saw a miracle that made me speechless with amazement. Macak’s back was a sheet of light and my hand produced a shower of sparks loud enough to be heard all over the house. …”


Weird Water

From surf to snowflakes, where would we be without water? The answer is … we wouldn’t! Water is like an essential friend we frequently take for granted. Being inside and around us in so many different ways means most of us are unaware of how WEIRD water can get.

For example: most solid elements and compounds sink if gently dropped into their liquid form. NOT WATER! We all know ice floats, but did you realise none of us would be here if water “behaved” and followed the same rules as the other compounds? H2O molecules act a bit like magnets, which leads to other weird things about water, like liquid water’s sticky skin-like property.

Check out the two PDF presentations below for some fascinating facts and entertaining poems.


  • WEIRD WATER Part 2 shares poems, information and a photo gallery of water as a SOLID, LIQUID & GAS Water Part 2


2017 is the International Year of Sustainable Tourism. As visitors to planet Earth, how we appreciate and care for limited resources such as water is important for our FUTURE EARTH (which is the school theme for this year’s National Science Week).

At Science Rhymes, we’d love to include your poem about the beauty, mystery and/or environmental significance of water on our website as we lead-up to National Science Week in Australia (12-20 August 2017). So put on your poetry hat over the next school break and take the plunge! Send your H2O poems to

Have you ever wondered why a kettle coming to the boil makes so much noise? Let Me Out was first published in CSIRO’s children’s science magazine Scientriffic #90.

Let Me Out! by Celia Berrell

When kettles boil, escaping bubbles
make them rattle, roar and wobble.
Why then, do they wheeze and hiss
before we see some steamy mist?

The element in kettle’s base
is warming water in that place.
Tiny bubbles first appear
and start to float up in the air.

But since the water higher up
is still quite cool, those bubbles flop.
They hiss and wheeze their fizzled fate
returning to their liquid state.

Until the water near the top
of kettle’s body’s all warmed up
the water vapour can’t get out.
That hiss is like a whispered shout …

     LET ME OUT!



We use the word vapour for a gas which easily changes into tiny liquid particles. A boiling kettle will have invisible water gas coming out of its spout. The steam we can see is hot liquid water droplets. Water molecules that become too energetic to stay inside the kettle as a liquid, escape as invisible water gas. But those gas molecules quickly turn back (condense) into tiny liquid water droplets as they touch a cooler surface or mix with cooler air. Steam we can see coming out of a kettle is similar to a cloud, mist or fog. It’s made from lots of tiny water droplets that float in the air.

SUNDAY 9th October PARTY

Our second Picture-Book Poetry Party was at Rydges Tradewinds Resort, 137 Esplanade, Cairns on Sunday 9th October from 2-3pm. It’s like Book Week meets National Science Week … with a poetic twist!

Poetry Party Poster image










This year’s feature author was Trudie Trewin with her picture-book Calpepper’s Place. As well as hearing an accomplished published author read some of their own work, we had the opportunity to learn aspects of Trudie’s writing journey as well.

Bringing your own Picture-Book entitled you to go into the draw for a book voucher from Collins Booksellers Smithfield.

This FREE event of Storytelling and Science Rhymes happened during World Space Week. Students from Whitfield State School recited their poems about Flight and Trinity Anglican School students shared their passions for Space and our Solar System. It’s was a cosmic event!

You can:

Hosted by Science Rhymes & Rydges Tradewinds, we plan to do it all again next year!

Please email to confirm your attendance and/or ask any questions about the next event.

In Conversation – August 2016

For a while there, I imagined I was famous!CB-2 small

Talking with Rob Farquhar about some of the milestones that led to a modest income from my literary passions was a great honour. Rob is a fellow writer and accomplished Paid To Play Podcast host. If you have time, please check it out HERE. I hope we connect along the way – through topics including wild flowers and sci-fi writers, to the life-changing empowerment afforded by a health scare.

Informally, this is the tenth anniversary of my poetic journey which became Science Rhymes.  So there’s a present for you – a new free volume of poems! My appreciation goes to the network and support received from talented friends and associates of many ages. And the necessary bravery and enjoyment for this interview process was thanks to my participation with Mt Sheridan Toastmasters Club.

PAID TO PLAY PODCAST: Celia Berrell, Science Poet: Episode 92


Can you write a poem about FLIGHT?  It could be about birds, insects, the freedom of flying, aircraft or even spacecraft.  To help you get inspired and in a slightly scientific mood, here are two 10 minute presentations combining science, poetry and pictures.  The Science & Poetry of Flight 1 is a PDF about FLIGHT IN NATURE.  The Science & Poetry of Flight 2 is a PDF about MAN-MADE FLIGHT.  These presentations were part of a Poetry Club project at Whitfield State School in Cairns, for Year 5 and Year 6 students.  We are now creating a collection of poems about FLIGHT and invite you to take part to help us celebrate National Science Week (13-21 August)!

2016  SRNSW poster

Celia Berrell
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Fortitude Valley QLD 4006

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