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Science in the City - the Marathon Begins!

By: Jennifer Miller, Category: Museullaneous, Date: 31 Aug 2010

With great excitement, Science in the City began! New to it all, I was caught in a whirlwind of energy and lots and lots of High school kids. Find out what buzz was stirred during the first day of Science in the City (16 August).

I was helping out for the first three days which was located at the Powerhouse Museum, the first time Science in the City had ever taken place off site (it’s usually at the Australian Museum, and was here for the last two days of the week, Thursday and Friday).

The Starting Point

My primary project was to help out with the two theaters - Target and Coles (hmmm, I wonder who the sponsors were for those two theaters). As it turned out, I was quite lucky to have been paired up with someone who has done this event before and was very helpful in getting me familiar with what to expect. The two theaters held lectures all day. Target was a fairly small theater, holding about 150 people while the Coles Theater held around 300. It was also very convenient that these two theaters were right next to each other joined by a staff hall.

Our job was to make sure that the presenters got what they needed: help, water, anything; we were also to check in each class as they came in- just to make sure everyone came. Then we helped with evacuating the room as quickly as possible to allow the next class in. Monday, the first day, there were around 1,350 students who came through the museum. I was quite busy making sure the class was correctly assigned, students stayed out of the elevator, and weren’t wandering around- meanwhile the daily visitors were, I’m sure, quite overwhelmed with everything going on.

Extreme Crowd Control

The classes were given access to the ramp that wound itself up the four floors. This ramp was only about three feet wide and needed to allow for two-way traffic (coming up and going back down). At the fourth floor was the Expo. This was where the booths of many organizations and schools could continue the conversation with students with demonstrations, explorations, even to feel and touch animals they would normally not be able to. This area could only hold 121 students at a time, so with 1,350 students, I can just imagine the crowd control at the top of the fourth floor ramp!

Exploding Balloons?!
Science is Cool!

The first day was long and tiring, as I was completely new to it all. It went, from what I heard around, fairly smooth for the first day. I believe the only hiccup was the exploding balloons. Yes, exploding balloons. As this event is normally held at the Australian Museum, several conditions for activities are perfectly allowed, such as open flames. Apparently, not so much at the Powerhouse. In the middle of a rather interesting lecture about Chemical Disasters, the enthusiastic professor wanted to demonstrate exactly what happened to the tragic events of the Hindenburg and the Challenger. So! Out came a balloon of helium with a wonderful bang of flame (didn’t see it the first time? let’s do a second). Next came a balloon filled with hydrogen for the Challenger demonstration, wow a much bigger flame and pop! The kids were loving it! Out of the stage door behind me, came the museum staff with a roar to his voice that left me quite shaken. I thought the startled professor would be kicked out right then and there! No harm done, he later changed his presentation to show photographs of himself demonstrating the fun explosion of gas.

More about Jennifer's adventures can be found here.

About Jennifer Miller