Art of STEM


Using the art of science

As a scientist, artist, author/illustrator and small business owner I am proudly living my life with ESTEAM (Entrepreneurship, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics)! By using the art of science you can ‘sea’ more below about how I share my life of ESTEAM.

Due to my research background and creative experiences I regularly visit schools and deliver what I term, ‘Creative Education‘. I think it is important to help students with their creative and critical thinking and I demonstrate this by letting them know it’s ok to “think/colour outside the lines“! Below are examples of the different types of ESTEAM-related activities and communications I have been carrying out, featuring my creative collaborations with Educators, Schools & Universities:

  • Creative Science
  • My COMM-Ocean & interviews
  • Girls in STEM
  • MakerSpaces
  • STEAM in action!


Creative Science

As my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish I graphically record my science visits with High School students to provide a more interactive and creative thinking approach to my school incursions — about the science of our Living Oceans. I also deliver Sketchnote your Science in School to students and teachers to help visualise science. These visual thinking approaches really engage with the students AND the teachers as ‘Drawing is Thinking‘. Graphic Recording and Sketchnoting in an educational context can provide students with the following learning outcomes:

  • a record of class discussions
  • a visual representation of complex issues
  • a tool for retention of information
  • a point of reflection for later study
  • a creative way of note-taking & remember concepts


My COMM-Ocean & interviews! (Communicating the ‘Art’ of Science)

I believe it is important to communicate science, STEM, STEAM and ESTEAM in a variety of ways so that our messages reach as many kids, students and people as possible. For example, one of my mantra’s regarding the future of our oceans is “people have to love it before they are moved to save it”. So why not make a COMM-Ocean about our Blue Planet through my visual storytelling! Over the past couple of years I have been honoured to be featured in a number of different science communication platforms from interviews and podcasts, tv shows to Google hangouts about my approach to science communication through art. Below are links to my latest COMM-Ocean:

Let’s Talk SciComm podcast hosted by Associate Professor Jen Martin and Dr Michael Wheeler, this was such a wonderful experience for me to talk to Jen and Michael about my visual storytelling and how I ‘draw upon’ my skills as a marine scientist and artist to “picture your ideas”. Let’s Talk SciComm is a wonderfully inclusive and accessible way to share the stories of science and it was an absolute pleasure to talk all things marine, drawing and wanting to be a ‘rock star’ on this podcast. You can listen to this podcast at Spotify Lets Talk SciComm interview and ‘sea’ more at Let’s Talk SciComm interview with Dr Sue Pillans


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Get off the Bench! Podcast with Kerryn Vaughan, this was such a high energy and FUN podcast to do with the amazing Kerryn where I talked about all things art and science and how and why I love to make a comm-ocean! We also dive into my alter ego ‘Dr Suzie Starfish’ and why I have spent many many years writing and illustrating children’s picture books about our oceans. You can ‘dive’ into this podcast via the you-tube video below and ‘sea’ how I’m Drawing a brighter marine future.

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The art of science, is an episode of Scope TV I taped for Channel 10 with Scopes FUN-tastic host Lee Constable! Discover how biology and art make a great team as I ‘draw out’ some of the oceans creature features with Lee! You can watch the episode here at


My reef reflections, an interview with ABC Radio National (Science program) discussing my connection with our Great Barrier Reef including what it was like to ‘sea’ the Reef for the first time when I was 11 years old, My beloved Great Barrier Reef: Four tales of love, loss and hope. I also revealed the title of my first children’s picture book, The Great Barrier Thief, and talked about how through these words and pictures I want to illustrate the impacts of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef with messages of hope.


Womens Agenda: I was thrilled to be featured in “The Link” Q&A series showcasing women in STEM. Check out how I’m drawing attention to my life of ESTEAM and helping to make science visual and fun for children

Sharks4Kids, it was so JAW-some to be featured on the Shars4Kids Blog to share my ocean storytelling through words and pictures. You can ‘sea’ more at

UQ Alumnus, ‘sea’ my interview with The University of Queensland Alumni team about the drawing that took me 43 years to draw at


46 Questions, an interview with the 46 Questions team who are making science inclusive by highlighting those that do it via a 46 Question interview everyone gets to read. You can ‘sea’ more about my story of science, including what I would do if I could switch professions, at


Moreton Bay science, a podcast with Katie Walters (PhD student of Griffith University) where I talk about all things Moreton Bay as I have quite the connection to the beautiful bay backyard of Brisbane. I carried out my PhD research in Moreton Bay, I have worked on many Moreton Bay Marine Park issues and I spend a lot of my time on, in and under the waters of Moreton Bay. You can listen to this podcast at and read the interview at


The International Year of the Reef, an interview sharing the story behind the story of my first children’s picture book, “The Great Barrier Thief” at You can ‘sea’ more about my ocean storytelling via the interview at

My Art & Science, thrilled that my journey as a science illustrator ‘drawing’ on my experience as a marine scientist, artist and visual communicator was profiled by Careers with STEM. ‘Sea’ how I went from wanting to be a ballet dancer and fighter pilot to using the art and science of marine storytelling to share my devotion for the ocean.


‘How I Got My Job’, an interview I did with the talented Leah Cannon of the Life Science Network. You can read how I went from the muddy waters of Moreton Bay to TV appearances about Marine Parks to running my own small business and living a life of ESTEAM at How I Got My Job.


Love the Reef, radio interview with the amazing Johanna Khan of ABC Science for Radio National talking about my love and connection to the Great Barrier Reef. I also revealed the title of my first children’s picture book about the challenges facing the Reef (by my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish), which will be aired during National Science Week 2018! Stay tuned for the interview to celebrating the International Year of the Reef!!


‘Using art to brush up on ocean science’, radio interview with the lovely Jessica Hinchliffe of ABC Radio. You can ‘sea’ how I Turn Ocean Science into Art and hear how I Use Art to Teach and communicate.


‘Join in the COMM-ocean’, where I hosted the weekly #Sciparty on Twitter about all things ocean sciart, scicomm and education, all with #OceanOptimism! You can ‘sea’ here the COMMocean Sciparty.


‘Blogging about all things science’ (Interview), with Dr Paige Brown Jarreau, From the Lab Bench. You can read about how I use Instagram (and other social media) to communicate the Art of Science for our oceans.


‘Science communication’ (Podcast), Dr Mike Ographer and Dr Karen Ring from #SciComm #SciParty. You can hear how I use the art of science in my Ocean storytelling.


‘Girls in STEM’ (Google Hangout), with Dr Karen Peterson and ACCELN (Australian Council for Computers in Education Learning Network). Watch me graphically record ‘live’ this Google Hangout with Dr Karen Peterson, CEO of the National Girls Collaborative Project (USA) and  ACCELN to draw out the ideas and challenges of Girls in STEM.


‘The art of storytelling’, featured in article for Currie Communications on visual storytelling. You can read more about The art of storytelling.


Girls in STEM

STEM Superheroes

I’m thrilled to be a supporter of the Tech Girls Movement , a non-profit organisation promoting positive female information technology role models to encourage and raise awareness of technology career options for girls. I am working with the founder, Dr Jenine Beekhuyzen aka. Jewella Superhero, and the Superhero team to help girls ‘picture their ideas’ by putting the “A” in STEAM. I just love getting to work with real-life Superheroes, as I did for Superhero Daughter Day held in Brisbane!!

National & International Collaboratives

As part of my work with the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP) and the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) during National Science Week I was privileged to ‘draw out’ the Girls in STEM experiences of Karen Peterson, CEO of the NGCP. You can see more of the Girls in STEM adventure ‘downunder’ in the NGCP Storify.

MakerSpaces & Maker Education

I love the wonderful world of Maker Spaces and Maker Education and what fun I had with educators at The University of Southern Queensland creating a BIG MakerSpace!! This MakerSpace was part of a workshop with Karen Peterson of the National Girls Collaborative Project, “Making makerspaces girl friendly” as part of National Science Week. I created a BIG Makerspace with participants to highlight two things:

  1. The BIG issues impacting our oceans using the BIGGEST shark in the sea, the Whale Shark
  2. The BIG creative experiences students can have when you combine science and art

STEAM in action!

Due to my STEM background and experiences I am invited to schools to provide input and advice into science curriculum planning and school incursions about the science of our Living Oceans. You can view my Queensland STEM in Action profile as a Marine Ecologist & Artist.

As part of my work with CSIRO and BHP on the Ningaloo Outlook project I recently visited with the High School science teachers of Exmouth District High School to discuss further how my science incursions could use more graphic recording to help with science learning and retention. As you can see below we were all smiles talking creative science and of course I had to ‘picture’ our groups science ideas!


I would love the opportunity to collaborate with anyone who shares in my passion for a life of STEAM to provide creative education to all, no matter of their location or circumstances.

if you are interested in collaborating in Creative ESTEAM Education.

*Please note my images, content and graphics need to be attributed to me and remain unaltered unless written permission is given as all graphics, content and images are Copyright © 2023 Dr Sue Pillans