Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

The Garden Within is on YouTube

I recently had the opportunity to attend a free workshop about creating YouTube videos, thanks to the Hervey Bay Neighbourhood Centre’s ILLUMINATION programme.  I originally shared 8 poems from The Science Rhymes Book on YouTube in 2011.  But when YouTube merged with Google, I somehow lost access to this account.  At the first of four workshop sessions, Aaron from Pierson Media kindly took the time to reconnect me with my YouTube account.  Duly motivated, I decided to recite The Garden Within for this workshop project.

Why The Garden Within?  Because in 2019, I discovered this poem (which features on the Environmental Poetry page of the Science Rhymes website) had been published in an Indian Government School Textbook, possibly since 2014.  In a previous blog, Give & Take: The Garden Within, I mentioned this and explained how this spiritual rhyme came about.  That was after delivering this as a speech at a Toastmasters contest.

I was disappointed that The Garden Within poem had been used so extensively without requesting my permission.  I sent rallying letters to what I hoped were appropriate Indian Government departments, libraries, the book’s printer and even the Indian Embassy.  My letter asked for an apology and a copy of the book.  But no reply has been received at this stage.  Meanwhile, someone who heard my speech asked a favour of a friend who was visiting India.  I now have a hard copy of the 2020 edition of this school textbook, Our World Through English Class VIII, from the State of Telangana, for which I express my deepest thanks to those kind travellers.

I hope you enjoy my workshop YouTube recital of The Garden Within.

While preparing to share this poem’s story at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) panel discussion at Cairns Tropical Writers Festival 2024, I searched the internet and found plenty of YouTube videos about The Garden Within.  Mine is just one of many!

Here are some others:

A LESSON explaining how to interpret the poem by Prathibha (2017)
P. J. Manilal made it into a SONG (2017)
The song became a DANCE (2020)
Another LESSON by VKT English Tutor (2021)
Digial Teacher’s Lesson forgot to mention the name of the poem’s author (2021)
So did (2023)

Perhaps this poem is on a similar trajectory to Jane Taylor’s The Star (1806).  Fondly sung as the nursery rhyme Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, we rarely acknowledge those who created it (Jane and Ann Taylor).  The Garden Within has forged a life in the public domain without me.  Recently translated into Chinese & Korean, it appears to be determined to explore the world all by itself – sharing love and gratitude along the way.

The Garden Within by Celia Berrell was inspired by spiritual artist Sharon Davson’s oil painting With Gratitude Comes Growth, housed in the Hikaru Museumin Takayama, Japan.

Creatura (book review)

CREATURA written by Bec Crew published by Australian Geographic

Imagine an animal that will “mess you up if you so much look at it the wrong way”, and has “some truly bizarre behaviours” or “strange little fingers”.  Bec’s imaginative and often humorous descriptions make reading about the quirky creatures in this book a delight.

Creatura is a collection of Mammals, Fish (and other sea creatures), Invertebrates, Birds, Reptiles and Amphibians who call Australia home.  Some you’ve already heard of, but others will be rewardingly new discoveries.  

Each Creatura star originally featured in Australian Geographic’s blog of the same name, where I’ve enjoyed Bec’s refreshing writing before.  They provide perfect inspiration for Science Rhymes like this one:

Heady Hatterpillar  by Celia Berrell

This gum-leaf caterpillar’s like
a hairy sausage unicorn
that keeps its dead and moulted heads
and wears them like a hennin horn.

Caterpillars like to eat and
eat until they split their sides,
then grow another bigger skin.
They’ll do this up to thirteen times.

But stink bugs know they’re tasty things
in which to poke their beaky straw
to suck out caterpillar juice.
A store of food those bugs adore.

It seems our caterpillar’s hat,
when waved across its sausage back,
can thwart a stink bug’s timely snack.
A princess hat prevents attack!

Even if you don’t read all the fine print, beneath each title Bec shares funny and caring, in-a-nutshell summaries.  About the Head-Stacking Caterpillar, she says “… that is some post-apocalyptic warlord fashion, if ever I’ve seen it.” And she’s right!

Bec suffers from arachnophobia (fear of spiders), but that doesn’t stop her from giving certain creepy-crawlies a good rap.  When talking about the Wrap-Around Spider she says “Something this good at hiding shouldn’t be so adorable”.  Doesn’t that make you want to have a look?

And look you can.  The photos are brilliant.  My only wish was that the name of the creature in each photo wasn’t displayed in such small italic print.

Although this isn’t a children’s book, I’m sure recently accomplished readers will find many delights and fascinations here, especially if they like biology topics as much as I do.

India’s Chandrayaan-3 Mission


Hunting for Hydrogen by Sukarma Thareja & Celia Berrell

August twenty-three
in the year of
sent news to the world
from the lunar cold,
successfully landing
at Moon’s South Pole.

Vikram’s the lander
and Pragyan’s its rover,
fitted with lasers
and chemical sensors.
With fourteen day’s work
then fourteen day’s sleep …
these robots might dream
of electric sheep!

Dr Sukarma Thareja says:  With its Laser Induced Breakdown Spectroscope (LIBS) and Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS), Pragyan has found elements of Aluminium, Calcium, Chromium, Iron, Manganese, Oxygen, Silicon, Sulphur and Titanium. Underway is also a search for the lightest element Hydrogen.


Find out more about this Indian Space Research Organisation (ISR0) mission HERE

Bright Ideas for Science Week 2023

Sciences with Essences by Russell Fernando
Project Manager, De La Salle College, Malvern Victoria

Endless streams of galaxies ought to bounce.
Do distant stars shine like some cosmic ounce
where exo-planets echo, gather, mount,
appearing too many times for us to count?

To know them all, while yet too many to learn,
we search for ones with Earth-likeness to earn.
They say we’re bound to want and wonder more,
explore where no man’s ever been before.

Are perfect life-forms living here unknown,
clueless to how outnumbered they have grown?
Should bright-lit future-dreams be what we chase,
as though we’re blind to see our Earth’s embrace?

During our quest for progress and control,
we’re failing Earth, our mother, home and soul.
It seems our climate’s harmony is lost.
Our actions now impose a perilous cost.

Let’s ponder stars, and contemplate our ways,
to calculate, redeem, ahead of days.
In seeking truth, may mankind also find
a path to heal, to mend and to be kind. 

Fight Microbes for Health  by Harsheen Kaur
Masters Student in Agriculture and Food Science at the University of Tasmania

Here’s some helpful hints we all should know
starting from our head down to each toe:

Soapy water washes bacteria away.
We recommend you try it every day!

Likewise, brushing teeth at least once daily
keeps our gums and breath more sweet than smelly.

Washing hands before we touch a meal
can block infections.  Such a happy deal!

Cleanliness and hygiene are the key.
This can make us feel so very lucky!

Wash raw fruits and veg appropriately.
The naked eye can’t see those microbes properly.

Handle food and cook as recommended
to keep your insides safe and unoffended.

Don’t let harmful bugs become a tyranny.
Our body’s health should surely take priority.



The Surging Tide by Jacinta Lou 

In the sea live many ghosts
of pirates, convicts and more.
Lost sunken treasure.
The remnants of war.

In my yard are fossils
where the sea used to be,
billions of years ago
before there was me.

The sea is claiming back the land.
On islands, it’s a disaster.
The billion year shift of tides
is coming. It’s coming even faster.

It’s speeding up as the globe heats up.
Is that about how we live?
To slow it down do we need to change
how we live, what we take, what we give?

Give back to the sea by keeping it clean
of plastics, oil and junk.
Keep the land cool by reusing more
or one day the land will be sunk.

The tide is turning.


Ultra-black Fish  by Sukarma Rani Thareja
(Associate Professor Retired, CSJM Kanpur University, India)

Ultra-black fish, Ultra-black fish
hide in plain sight in the deepest sea.
So how does it work, this trickery,
their magic invisibility?

Ultra-black fish, Ultra-black fish
have melanin, just like human skin,
but pigment structures found within
are packed so tight –
like a gumball machine –
that almost all light gets trapped right in.

By taking a lesson from fish-skin designs
we could make-up a pigment, right shape and size.
The blackest of blacks would be our prize
for material science that tricks human eyes!

first published 2020



The Curious Unknown  by Elizabeth

The waves crash against the rocks
stumbling about like a teenager,
never knowing when to stop
those tireless tides of flows and knocks.

Carrying others everywhere it goes,
carefree about where it will lead.
A resting place or back for more?
With curious currents – who knows?

Mysteries of the deep adore
diving into endless questions,
searching for new answers,
surfacing each time with more.

first published 2020



One Big Step for Me  by Ruby

Gathered round old televisions
or listening to radio stations
witnessing that “one big step”
fifty years ago.

rising and falling,
controlling the tides,
radiant and bright
though never alight.

Your dusty black land
with rocks, shards of sand,
highlands and craters
makes Moon’s unique textures.

There’s still so much to learn
so, to the Moon we will return.
I wonder … will I ever get a turn?

first published 2019


An Ode to Stephen Hawking  by Rowen

Stephen Hawking, a brilliant mind!
Very clever, successful and kind.
One of our best scientific pioneers
with one of the most glittering careers.

Incredibly gifted throughout his time,
a theoretical physicist in his prime,
he became a role model to many young people,
but sadly one day he was rendered near-feeble.

Diagnosed with motor neuron disease
his health declined in small degrees.
But he didn’t give up, no, he pushed ahead,
although his peers thought he’d soon be dead.

He kept living on, yes, he cheated death
until March 14th when he took his last breath.
His students, and theirs, talk of him in a way,
that connects with us all, every hour, every day.

They say this great man was one-of-a-kind.
Stephen Hawking enshrined that brilliant mind.


first published 2018


Lucky Galileo  by Imogen

Renaissance astronomer Galilei
showed that the Earth revolved round the Sun.
Defying the views of the holiest place,
some Catholics wanted him burned at stake.

Instead, he’s imprisoned in home-arrest
where Bubonic Plague wasn’t a pest.
This “Black Death” caused headache, fever and chills
then lymph glands, like boils, began to swell.

Safe from disease, his life was enhanced.
Protected from getting boils in his pants!


first published 2018



Saving the System  by Reinhold Mangundu


The system is life; this system provides.
Such system collapse is people’s demise.
So what are we doing with unthinking minds?
Can you feel, hear or see Earth’s desperate signs?

Bleached coral reefs; no fishing, no work.
Unemployed poverty mustn’t be shirked.
Less copper, less diamonds: they’re closing the mines.
Can you feel, hear or see Earth’s depleted signs?

Our Earth’s system needs us to save, not plunder
her life-giving riches in all their wonder.
So let’s save the system. Let’s roar out her worth!
And join in becoming Guardians of Earth.


first published 2018


Water Worldwide  by Jonathon

Water glistens, shiny and clear.
From every stream runs Earth’s long tear.
Its floods can cause a lot of strife
and yet it is the gift of life.

Water problems happen worldwide.
With too much water many have died.
With too little water; nothing lives.
So water takes and water gives.


first published 2017


Light Duties for a Photon by Ava

Photons who are unemployed
but keen, hardworking, bright,
we’d like you to be part of
a brand new ray of light.

To be a working photon
you’ll set the world aglow.
Helping plants to make us food
so we can live and grow.

You have to be a lightweight,
move quickly, still be calm.
You must be an optimist
to keep your sparkle on.

After you have left the Sun
aim straight for Earth’s blue sky.
If the photon job’s for you,
we’d like you to apply!


first published 2015


Evolution  by Claire

Changes happen every day
slowly gradually in many ways.

Like humans used to be one little cell.
Now we are complex strong and well.


What is this process called evolution?
It’s like a slow-motion revolution.

Creatures adapting to their home,
wherever they may choose to roam.


Evolution is here in many ways
and doesn’t happen in a matter of days.

Adjusting and adapting to a new area
can take a species many millennia.


Evolution is the fish in the sea
that turned into apes, wild and free.

From those apes humans emerged.
From their trees they scattered and surged.


We wouldn’t be here on planet Earth
if that small cell hadn’t been in the surf.

To think we wouldn’t be alive
if one little cell hadn’t arrived.


first published 2012


Did you know that Australia now has a POETRY MONTH each AUGUST?  What a great combination for celebrating a decade of your BRIGHT IDEAS for Science Week in rhyme!

The Webb Telescope revealed so many amazing and beautiful things about our universe over the last year after successfully unpacking itself in space.  You can see some of those images HERE.

Unpacking the Webb Telescope  by Celia Berrell

First, un-pleat some solar cells
and wag that space antenna tail
to give our telescope some power
for data-sending mail.
Open sides, like two long arms,
then stretch-out layers of silver veils
to make a heat-shield from the Sun.
Too hot, our Webb could fail.

Next, erect the smaller mirror
then a radiator,
before reflective parts hinge wide.
That giant mirror’s locked, both sides,
to make a golden-petal flower
with infra-red its viewing power,
to be an ancient star-locator.
Deepest history translator!

inspired by animation of deployment


Fraser Coast Regional Libraries held their first Poetry Writing contest for NAIDOC Week this year.  Here I am being awarded a Highly Commended certificate and gift at the Hervey Bay Regional Art Gallery from Regional Librarian Tara Webb today (5th July 2023) for the following poem:  

Ancient Secrets in the Sky  by Celia Berrell

Australia’s first people
shared knowledge that’s verbal
through story and song
both secret and long.

They studied the skies
and became very wise
in using the stars
to travel afar.

Star maps, like diaries
can jog song-line memories,
showing the best ways
we now use as highways.

When driving one day
on the Great Western Highway,
know ancient astronomy’s
part of its history.


Ancient Secrets in the Sky was inspired by a 2016 article I read in the New Scientist magazine titled Were Aboriginal Australians the first Astronomers?  It was written by Ray Norris, a science communicator and Astrophysicist with CSIRO and the Western Sydney University.

Ray used to tour Arts Festivals with his Indigenous friend Bill, presenting a show called The First Astronomers.  All the information was based on Yidumduma Bill Harney’s knowledge of the stars, passed down the generations through rote learning.  It shows us that Aboriginal Australians were serious stargazers, long before Stonehenge or The Pyramids were built.

Yidumduma Bill Harney is an Elder and Senior custodian of the Wardaman people in the Northern Territory.  Bill was born in the 1930’s and communicates the joy of his culture to a global audience through art, story and song.  He is also a published author.

This year’s NAIDOC Week theme is For Our Elders.  I’m honoured that Ancient Secrets in the Sky is being  appreciated as a way of recognising and respecting Australian Indigenous heritage of the lands on which we live and their scintillating science-based song-lines of the starry night’s sky.

ChatGPT and Poetry

Science Rhymes is accepting submissions for our BRIGHT IDEAS poetry contest with National Science Week 2023.  Using AI, such as ChatGPT, is allowed on the understanding that such poems are attributed to the person & AI neural network used.  Below, is a justification and guide for using AI written by ChatGPT, a Q & A segment, followed by A Science Rhyme by John & ChatGPT.

ORIGINS OF THE FUTURE crayon drawing by Sharon Davson

ChatGPT’s ability to write rhymes about science, nature, and the environment presents a unique and engaging way to explore these topics. By using poetic techniques such as rhyme and rhythm, ChatGPT can create memorable and enjoyable verses that aid in the retention of information. Rhymes have long been recognized as powerful mnemonic devices, helping individuals remember and recall complex concepts with ease. When applied to scientific subjects, this approach can be particularly beneficial for students.

Poetry has the capacity to transform scientific and environmental concepts into vivid, imaginative expressions. By employing evocative language, metaphor, and storytelling, ChatGPT can bring these topics to life, making them more relatable and accessible. The rhythmic nature of rhymes enhances the appeal, embedding the information into the memory through the repetition and musicality of the verses.

While ChatGPT can provide links to sources for the poems it generates, it’s important to exercise caution and verify the accuracy of the information. ChatGPT is a language model trained on a vast corpus of text, but it doesn’t have direct access to the internet or the ability to browse web pages in real time. Therefore, it’s advisable to cross-reference the information provided by ChatGPT with reputable sources to ensure its accuracy.

To best ensure the accuracy of science information in the poems, it’s essential to provide clear guidelines and prompt ChatGPT with accurate scientific facts. Clearly specify the desired topic, outline the key points, and emphasize the importance of scientific accuracy. By providing specific details and referencing trusted sources, the resulting rhymes will have a higher likelihood of being factually correct.

Incorporating ChatGPT’s rhymes into educational settings can stimulate students’ interest and engagement with science, nature, and the environment. The combination of creativity and accurate information helps foster a deeper understanding and long-term retention of the topics at hand. By tapping into the power of poetry, ChatGPT opens up a world of possibility for students to explore, appreciate, and remember the wonders of science, nature, and the environment.

Prompt given to ChatGPT was: Write 300 words about how ChatGPT can write rhymes about science, nature and the environment.  Can this help students remember new topics?  Can ChatGPT provide links to sources for the poems it creates?  Include guidelines to best ensure the science information is accurate.

Answering John’s questions on ChatGPT poetry

  1. Have you tried using ChatGPT?  In February, my friend Nicky and I gave ChatGPT a prompt to create a funny rhyme about black holes.  (You’ll find that poem at the end of the PDF Clever Concepts in Science.)  I included this poem as I am allowing ChatGPT or equivalent AI co-authored poems in this year’s Science Week blog of poetry – on the understanding that writers acknowledge the language AI they have used to co-author a poem.

  2. What happens if two people ask ChatGPT to do exactly the same thing? Will it always create the same poem?   ChatGPT has limited contextual memory, so perfect duplicates would probably be coincidental rather than expected.
  3. What do you think of the poem John & ChatGPT came up with? I liked it more than the Black Hole poem experiment.  Perhaps that’s because prompt information given by John was more specific and included “written in the style of Celia Berrell”.
  4. Is it original or has ChatGPT just taken lines from your published works?  It’s original as far as my own poetry is concerned.
  5. Have you read any articles about concerns over training AI on copyrighted material?  Yes I recently read New Scientist’s May issue 3435 on the AI Revolution.  I think giving these neural networks access to copyrighted material is essentially a form of theft, particularly since someone else will profit from it.  However, it may be the only way such Large Language Models could acquire sufficient “quality” language training.
  6. Were you impressed with the reference links supplied by ChatGPT?   YES!  It appears that “in the style of” prompted the neural network to search for examples.
  7. Are you pleased to be part of the AI training material or annoyed? I’d say I’m ambivalent.  I themed this year’s call for poems for Science Week around the poem “Mother of Invention”, accompanied by an image of the drawing “Origins of the Future” by Sharon Davson (which inspired the poem & features at the top of this page).  This image and poem’s sentiments make it clear there is no way to put the stopper back in the bottle now!  So there’s not much point in just being upset about it.  Better to work out how we can safely learn to navigate and legislate for its pitfalls ASAP.
  8. Is it a good thing that your poems are now incorporated into this ‘AI intellect’? Is this a form of immortality for you?  I like to think my Science Rhymes creations/intellect helps make the world a better place – at least for some.  Perhaps a part of that will live on.  But I would personally prefer to avoid being around if AI becomes sentient and we all have to contend with ITS FEELINGS … THAT WOULD BE DISASTROUS!

John’s Prompt to ChatGPT: write a poem in the style of Celia Berrell

ChatGPT’s response: Celia Berrell is an Australian poet who writes poems for children. Her poems are usually about science and nature and are written in a way that makes them easy to understand and fun to read. Here’s a poem in the style of Celia Berrell:

A Science Rhyme created by John & ChatGPT

The world is full of wonder,
From the smallest ant to the tallest tree,
There’s so much to discover,
And so much more to see.

The stars above us twinkle,
In the sky so dark and deep,
And when we look up at them,
We can’t help but feel complete.

The oceans are so vast,
And the creatures that live within,
Are all so different and unique,
It’s like a whole new world to begin.

So let’s explore this world of ours,
And all that it has to give,
For there’s nothing quite as wonderful,
As the life that we all live.

ChatGPT’s Source: Conversation with Bing, 13/05/2023 
(1) Celia Berrell | Australian Children’s Poetry Website. Accessed 13/05/2023.

(2) “The Beauty of it All” by Celia Berrell | Australian Children’s Poetry …. Accessed 13/05/2023.

(3) “Peace by Piece” by Celia Berrell – Australian Children’s Poetry …. Accessed 13/05/2023.

If you’ve read down to here, CONGRATULATIONS!  I hope you’ve found this information helpful.  And good luck with any poems you create.

All Ages of Geek: Celia’s Interview

Celia's Bookshelf

Celia’s Bookshelf

 “YES” is a magical word that leads into the intriguing world of ALL AGES OF GEEK.  Follow the link below to travel through internet time and space to find TREASURE  –  in the form of poems, poetry writing tips and Science Rhymes experiences that could ultimately transform you into ONE OF US!  It’s a detailed journey, courtesy of AAOG publicist and writer Ryder Sterling’s clever questions.  I hope you are tempted to dive in … and geek out HERE!

Victorian Fairies

Fact and fantasy frequently held fairy-like hands in a quest to educate the privileged children of Victorian times (1837- 1901).  Books such as The Fairy-Tales of Science: A book for youth by John Cargill Brough (1858) aimed to enchant as well as educate their young readers. 

Microscopes popularised the idea of miniature fairies to guide children through wonderlands of insects, microbiology and chemistry.  For example, The Fairy Land of Science by Arabella Buckley (1878) and The Fairy Land of Chemistry: Explorations in the World of Atoms by Lucy Rider Meyer (1887).  Even The Water Babies by Charles Kingsley (1886) alluded to concepts relating to evolution.

This poem celebrates Victorian fairies and fairies on top of Christmas Trees everywhere as ambassadors of science.  We are all being politely reminded to take care by washing our hands to keep out germs and viruses – particularly during this festive season – by those fantastical fairies!

Victorian Fairies  by Celia Berrell

The Fairy Queen of Britain
was Victoria, who hit on
having Christmas tree sensations
for the festive celebrations.

Doting Dads bought girls and boys
expensive scientific toys
like microscopes, revealing scenes
that taught of hazards and hygiene.

Fairies shrank to tiny size
like Tinkerbells and butterflies
and showed kids new technologies
through books with science mysteries.

Detergent, soap took Fairy’s name
for health and hygiene’s serious game.
That fairy on the Christmas tree
worked magic scientifically!




After three false starts, NASA’s Moon rocket called Artemis 1, finally launched on Wednesday 16th November 2022.  We are celebrating with a poem of course!

Gifts of Gratitude Afloat  by Celia Berrell

Where would we find
a collection like this?
Afloat on the sea
or on Artemis?

Some Girl Scout badges,
a Dead Sea pebble,
tree seeds & Snoopy,
a Greek Goddess model,
two astronaut toys,
a piece of old rocket,
some artwork and poems
in USB lockets,
a comic from Peanuts,
a stuffed Shaun the Sheep,
a small pinch of moon dust
to scatter or keep.

With good-luck mementos
on Artemis One,
this Moon Rocket launch
is finally done!

Its first launch date in August was cancelled due to lightning strikes and a fuel leak.  September saw more technical troubles.  Then in October, the giant rocket was trundled back inside its hanger as Hurricane Ian raged near the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida USA.

It has a busy schedule which you can view on this artemis-i-map.

Artemis 2 will be next, taking astronauts beyond the Moon.  Artemis 3 will be the first mission to land people on the Moon since Apollo 17 in 1972 … over fifty years ago!

Hunting Dragons

Hunting dragons among pages of gracefully flowing algae reminded me of being timelessly engaged with a puzzle challenge to find fairies craftily hidden in a picture when I was a child.  Only the Way of the Weedy Seadragon introduces us to a fascinating creature that really exists!

It’s not just a delightful picture book: it’s a science book, explaining the physiology, behaviour and charm of Phyllopteryx taeniolatus (that’s its Latin name) through a perfect combination of engaging facts and exquisite illustrations.

After reading the Way of the Weedy Seadragon, I’m proud to know they are native to the southern coasts of Australia.  (In fact they’re one of Victoria’s State Emblems!)  I found learning and viewing them in this enchanting and accurate portrayal was empowering – as well as provoking a sense of awe and care for these dainty fish.

When I asked Fraser Coast Libraries if I could borrow this recent CSIRO children’s publication, they kindly purchased a copy, so local residents can enjoy it too.  Author Anne Morgan and illustrator Lois Bury have created a winning partnership here.

Fairies may fly in our imagination, but dragons really snort and dance in our seas.  I hope you will check them out!

at Hervey Bay Library