On Monday, 14 July 2014 Questacon launched EuroScience at Questacon, a week long programme of activities celebrating the past, present and future of European science and technology. Throughout the week, visitors of all ages enjoyed Spectacular Science Shows, live demonstrations in Q Lab, guest lectures and performances as well as a professional development session for teachers.
EuroScience at Questacon was presented in collaboration with The Australian National University Centre for European Studies (ANUCES), one of five Europe Centres in Australia funded by the European Union.
The week began with a launch event which was attended by Ambassadors from Germany, Poland and the Netherlands as well as embassy officials from 10 other countries. Guest speakers Professor Jacqueline Lo, Director of ANUCES and Professor Graham Durant, Questacon Director, spoke of the importance of recognising the remarkable scientific contributions from Europe throughout the ages.
Audiences were also treated to a teaser of the scientists and discoveries to be featured during the week with the Questacon Excited Particles playing the roles of Joseph Montgolfier, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein and Archimedes. The launch concluded with Archimedes declaring the start of EuroScience at Questacon by jumping into a bathtub and exclaiming ‘Eureka!’ in concert with the audience, in celebration of many centuries of discoveries.
The first presentation, Marie Curie’s Notebook, was performed by Questacon’s Excited Particles for guests attending the launch as well as the public. The theatrical show told tale of a woman’s life being torn apart by her discoveries and was well appreciated by audiences both young and old. The Excited Particles also presented a series of family-friendly shows themed around European science. European Dinosaurs was a crowd favourite, intriguing audiences with the history of the discovery of dinosaurs as well as recent dinosaurs discoveries. This show generated great interest for family groups and always finished with a crowd of children desperate to ask questions about dinosaurs.
The activities continued daily in Q Lab with demonstrations themed around the work of temperature (Daniel Fahrenheit, Ander Celsius, and Baron Kelvin), flying machines (Leonardo da Vinci) and pressure (Otto von Guericke, Blaise Pascal, Jacques Charles and Evangelista Torricelli). The holiday crowds enjoyed boiling water in a vacuum, shrinking polystyrene cups in a pressure cooker as well as creating and testing flying machines in a wind tunnel.
Guest presentations and performances added to the programme by offering some unique experiences. Professor Hans Bachor of The Australian National University performed shows on the history of lasers in Europe and exciting developments for the future. A special presentation of Faraday’s Candle, performed by Bernard Caleo, reminded audiences of the natural phenomena that combine to create the light of a candle.
The final EuroScience at Questacon event treated teachers to a free professional development session at the Questacon Technology Learning Centre. Over 20 teachers from primary and high schools across Canberra took part in the workshop. The presenters introduced teachers to prominent European scientists whose work was based around the themes of electricity, flight and density. The workshop was a huge success with teachers learning a range of interactive activities, designed to be easily replicated in the classroom with basic materials.