Ross Kingsland AM

September 29th, 2020

Founder of the CSIRO’s Double Helix Science Club, Ross also established a national network of CSIRO Science Education Centres around Australia, along with many other educational projects.

In April 2002 Ross was made a Member of the Order of Australia Award for Services to Science Education.

Ross joined CSIRO in 1984 on secondment from the ACT Schools Authority, before being offered a position with CSIRO as a Science Communicator.

In 1986, Ross was asked to manage the education activities of CSIRO before being appointed to the position of Manager, Education Programs. Arguably Ross’s proudest achievement of his career has been founding the CSIRO’s Double Helix Science Club. Inspired by the ABC’s Argonauts radio program, Ross conceived of the Club and set about establishing it from very humble beginnings. In its early days, he and his wife Sue would stuff envelopes around their kitchen table to mail out The Helix 4-page newsletter to members. The Helix grew into a 40 page full-colour magazine that is still highly regarded and membership of the Club topped 25,000. The Helix was later joined by its younger sibling, Scientriffic, which was also well-received. These are world class publications that are unmatched anywhere else in the world. The Club was awarded a 1992 Eureka Prize for the Promotion of Science.

Another achievement unique in Australia is Ross’ overseeing the establishment of a national network of CSIRO Science Education Centres around Australia. He was feeling pretty pleased with himself when, by 1992, he had one in every capital city in Australia.

In 1992, Ross was awarded a CSIRO Chief Executive’s overseas study award, which he travelled in two stages. In Dec 92 to Feb 93 Ross embarked on the second leg of his trip, this time to the UK. He came back full of ideas that he wanted to implement in Australia, and at the CSIRO Education Managers Meeting in 1994, proposed the introduction of the Creativity in Science and Technology (CREST) Awards, and CREST, which was introduced in 1995, remains a very successful program for CSIRO Education today (now, Creativity in Research, Engineering, Science and Technology).

Other projects Ross initiated included the Student Research Scheme, the Women in Science Project, Science by Email, Maths by Email and the national, half-hour, weekly TV science show ‘Scope’. Many of these programs continue to run successfully.

In April 2002 Ross was made a Member of the Order of Australia Award for Services to Science Education.

Ross was awarded a Corporate Lifetime Achievement Award in September 2005 by CSIRO Chief Executive, Geoff Garrett, for ‘building an internationally renowned science education and outreach service for CSIRO. The program grew to an annual budget of $11m of which 75% was funded from earnings or sponsorship. CSIRO Education Programs had started with almost no staff or resources and a meagre budget of approximately $10,000.

In 2007 CSIRO Education, with Ross at the helm, received a CSIRO Environmental Award for the Science by Email publication with a focus on the environment.

Ross steered the BHP Billiton Science Awards through a number of major changes since 1986 and, in 2008, CSIRO Education and BHP Billiton won the Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Community Business Partnerships in the category for Longevity. This was for the 27 year partnership between BPB Billiton, CSIRO Education and the Australian Science Teachers Association to run the BHP Billiton Science Awards.