Science partnership to inspire young South Australians

Six people stand around a wind experiment

On Monday 15 February, the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Christopher Pyne, visited Questacon’s Innovation Factory – Invent and Play exhibition at the University of South Australia’s City West campus. The exhibition was made possible due to support from Raytheon and the University of South Australia.

To mark the end of the exhibition’s two-month tour to Adelaide, students from Playford International College in Elizabeth, joined by Minister Pyne and representatives from the partner organisations, came together to showcase the value of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills to the community.

Using the wind table – an exhibit that comprises three high-powered fans below an array of hollow tubes to create vertical laminar airflow – students demonstrated their hand made flying machines created from paper, straws, and paper cups; in line with the exhibition’s goal of taking visitors “back to the basics” of technology and using simple ideas to create ingenious inventions.

Since opening, Innovation Factory has been a great success with more than 5000 visitors interacting with the 18 hands-on exhibits. The exhibition encourages experimentation with simple machines – gears, cams, leavers, pulleys, pneumatics, wheels or electric circuits – to discover how these simple machines can be used to create ingenious inventions.

“Visitors had the opportunity to use everyday machines found at home, school or the workplace to challenge the idea that the high-tech electronics are the most important technologies in our lives”, said Questacon’s Director of Science and Learning Dr Stuart Kohlhagen.

As Australia’s largest and most successful combat systems integrator, Raytheon Australia’s Managing Director Michael Ward said that “our hope is that through this engaging experience we can help inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers and create even more lifelong careers here in Adelaide”.

University of South Australia Vice Chancellor, Professor David Lloyd said the exhibition had been a great opportunity to support the development of innovative minds by making sure that their engagement with science is always enjoyable.  “We’ve been delighted and encouraged by the success of the exhibition at City West,” Prof Lloyd said.

While at the event, Minister Pyne also announced a $930,000 national funding package for citizen science projects to inspire people of all ages and backgrounds to become more involved in science and research, and called for submissions to the 2016 National Science Week ABC Citizen Science project.