A visit to Questacon isn’t complete without attending one of the daily science shows, presented by the Excited Particles team. Since 2000, the Excited Particles have been combining humour, storytelling, exciting demonstrations and audience interaction to immerse people in the wonders of science and technology.
Patrick Helean, an Excited Particle since 2003, describes the shows as “a brilliantly successful experiment in combining theatre and science. It started out as an experiment – and is still going.”
This theatrical approach to science demonstrations was rare in the 2000s, and the Excited Particles remain in a league of their own today. As well as performing the shows, the team’s expert performers share their knowledge and tips with other science communicators and scientists to help make science more engaging and accessible.
As of 2023, the Excited Particles have created and performed over 60 different shows and are always working on new ideas. With many of the team being trained in theatre, they know how to adapt to their audience, as Patrick explains. “Because we’re not tied to a script, we can respond to questions during the show and adjust to suit the audience.”
With shows performed daily, it’s a live opportunity to test and refine new material based on audience feedback. It’s this feedback that keeps the experiment going.
The group’s theatrical approach to science communication continues the legacy of Questacon founder, Professor Mike Gore, as Patrick explains. “Before the Excited Particles, there was Professor Mike Gore, an amazing presenter and performer who was heavily involved with theatre groups at the Australian National University.”
The impact of the team’s shows goes beyond Questacon, and the group are known internationally for their unique and effective approach to science communication. They have performed in Japan, Vietnam, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, the Philippines, South Korea and Singapore.
Over more than 2 decades, the shows have evolved and people and have come and gone from the team, but Patrick says, “The idea is the same; not to be just an ordinary science show. We have an opportunity now to continue the experiment that started in 2000.”
Next time you see an Excited Particles show, tell them what you think! You’ll be helping to shape the next iteration in this evolving science–theatre experiment.
The Questacon Excited Particles perform 30-minute shows every day, in Questacon’s Japan Theatre on the ground floor. Shows are suitable for all ages and a hearing loop is available.
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(Male) Three, two, one.
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[An explosion and then cheering can be heard
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