The exhibits are one thing, but the explanations and interactions provided by Questacon’s fleet of volunteers really make the science memorable. Volunteers at Questacon

This group of passionate science communicators is part of Questacon’s DNA. They have been engaging, entertaining and educating visitors since the Centre was established in 1980, before it moved into the current building 35 years ago. 

Long-term volunteer, Marion Williams, started with Questacon in 1988. Over the decades, she has seen changes in both Questacon and the volunteer group. “When I first started, most of the volunteers were university students and scientists. I was also one of the few women, but there are many more now, and I hope I have helped show that women can do it too. I keep encouraging girls to use the exhibits themselves, rather than watching others.” 

Marion WilliamsMarion explains that Questacon works to make volunteering as accessible and inclusive as possible, regardless of academic background or mobility.  

“We have had volunteers who are retired police and carpenters, as well as people who use wheelchairs. We had a sight-impaired volunteer, who could impart so much to people, and visitors got a different experience. Questacon is such a caring community – if you have an interest in science, they try to make volunteering as open as possible.”

For many Questacon visitors, it’s the contact with volunteers that turns their curiosity into ‘aha!’ moments, and it’s clear when this magic moment happens. “Seeing the spark in their eye – it’s so obvious. It doesn’t just give them a buzz, it gives you a buzz too,” says Marion. 

These ‘sparks’ aren’t fleeting. One of Marion’s most treasured possessions is a letter she received from 3 children who visited her and other volunteers at Curiosity Corner.  

“They returned the next day to leave a message for me that they had loved our time together and that they, like me, loved illusions and puzzles. They hoped to see me again on their next visit to Canberra.” 

While her interest in science is what drove Marion to volunteer, she says the friendships among volunteers, Questacon staff and even visitors have become one of the most important parts of her life.  

Volunteers at Questacon“I recognise a lot of the regular visitors’ children, and they recognise me. My friends are people from Questacon. We’re organising a morning tea at Questacon for a former volunteer of over 35 years who is still very much part of the Questacon family. It’s very much a community. We went on a big day out and had a barbeque – some staff cooked for us. We do stuff together. My grandchildren have grown up with Questacon and they love it as well. It’s very much wider than me.” 

Now 84 years young, Marion has this to say about volunteering: “I’m going to continue going while I can. I can still tell people what to do with an exhibit, even if I can’t do it myself. I don’t see a point where I would have to stop. But I can’t do Science Time with the young children – getting up and down off the floor is hard!” 

In December 2023, Marion Williams won the 2023 ACT Senior Volunteer of the Year Award, recognising her dedicated service and contribution to the community.  

Are you curious about science and technology? Find out about volunteering at Questacon