AMSF volunteer Clare Watson gives a wrap up of one of our most succesful years yet.
Kick-starting National Science Week and the Australian Museum Science Festival (AMSF), Super Science Saturday was a blast. Over 2,000 visitors participated in the boisterous community event – and as the first day of the two-week festival, it was just a taste of things to come.
AMSF delivers entertaining lessons in fundamental science and showcases creative applications of science to inspire big thinkers. Usually, at one time, the Museum has specimens exhibited in the galleries (and that’s not counting the [literal] millions of objects stored off-site) and yet the festival crams in nearly 300 presenters from over 45 organisations under the same roof.
On Saturday, the Museum was abuzz with families exploring three floors of workshops, installations, theatrical shows and hands-on experiments. Crowds chased Winny the Dinosaur (technically a Muttaburrasaurus) through the galleries and ankle-biters swamped Tubby the Robot to ask him about the future; faces both young and old were painted with traditional Aboriginal designs, some depicting turtles and others symbolising rain; and parents juggled crafty souvenirs, paper puppet crocodile jaws on one hand and cups of glittering slime in the other.
Roaming the floors, it’s hard to say what the busiest display was during Super Science Saturday because there was something for every child – the next geologist, chemist, zoologist, historian, geneticist, microbiologist or computer programmer, perhaps. In the Atrium, the live animal display, where brave kids could pat a baby saltwater croc or a black headed python, was a crowd-stopper. Meanwhile, in the Expo space, 3M showed off some mind-boggling materials such as their liquid-like glass “bubbles” – these hollow microspheres are actually a solid but move more like milk than sand – and the surprising strength of Post-it notes. On the next level up, kids were gleefully making a mess with Macquarie University at their experiment stations, which featured forensic fingerprinting, disappearing chemical messages and microbe detection. In other quiet rooms, children were feverishly programing robots.
While kids left the Museum (exhausted) with tangible impressions of science, inquisitive parents too walked away with fun facts for the dinner table or that next trivia night – since it is all about lifelong learning. I myself learnt that there were 250 different Aboriginal languages across Australia with 600 dialects, and that the tectonic plate on which Australia sits is moving northward at the same rate as our fingernails grow, about 7-11 cm each year.
Since Super Science Saturday, the Museum has not slowed down. AMSF delivered its primary and high school programs over two jam-packed weeks, each day a changing program. The Museum has welcomed more than 6,000 school students, a shark in a bus and crowd-favourites like Dr Karl. Seeds were planted at the STEM careers panel, students analysed mock crime scenes in CSI World and a waxy Albert Einstein was spotted overseeing the science experts from 3M, ANSTO, CSIRO and more, in the Expo space.