On Wednesday 19 March, Questacon announced it will tour its popular Science Circus outreach programme to Japan in April.
The five-week tour will take 30 interactive science exhibits to four tsunami-recovering communities in the Tōhoku region of north-eastern Japan following an official launch in Tokyo on 24 April.
The tour is modelled on Questacon’s flagship outreach programme, the Shell Questacon Science Circus, which has toured regional and remote Australia for the past 29 years.
A team of six Australian and Japanese science communicators will present engaging science shows at local schools during the week and run a free public exhibition for families on weekends featuring hands-on science exhibits. The exhibits will feature translated explanations and will be gifted to Japan at the conclusion of the tour.
The tour is collaboration between Questacon and Japan’s National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan). The tour is supported by the Australia-Japan Foundation (AJF), which is part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The tour was officially launched by Questacon Director, Professor Graham Durant, and Mr Murray McLean AO, Chair of the AJF.
Professor Durant said, “The Questacon Science Circus tour of Japan is an expression of friendship and gratitude for Japan’s contribution to Questacon’s establishment as the National Science and Technology Centre in 1988.
“We’re honoured to be able to give something back to the Japanese community and to contribute to the rebuilding efforts in places such as Minamisanriku — amongst Japan’s worst affected areas by the 2011 natural disaster and the focus of Australian post-disaster recovery efforts.
“By taking our portable science exhibits to these communities, we are helping to re-establish the capacity of local science museums. We’ll be working with local science communicators and science centre professionals in each location, providing mutual exchange of expertise,” said Professor Durant.
“The Australia-Japan Foundation is delighted to support this exciting tour to Japan, which will be particularly welcome in communities such as Minamisanriku that were so badly devastated by the 2011 tsunami/earthquake” said AJF Chair, Mr Murray McLean AO.
At the tour launch, 30 students from St Michael’s Primary School were treated to a special presentation by three science communicators that will staff the tour. Mr Isao Yamasaki from Miraikan, Japan, Ms Renae Sayers from Scitech, Perth and Mr Patrick Helean from Questacon presented a selection of science demonstrations that they will perform in Japanese schools during the tour. These demos illustrated the principles of forces and motion using bicycle wheels and simple levers, and also had students making music with everyday objects such as a length of pool-cleaning hose!
Student also had a chance to explore six of Questacon’s portable exhibits, similar to those that will travel to Japan.
Questacon is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary year as Australia’s National Science and Technology Centre. The Government of Japan and Keidanren (Japanese Business Federation) supported half the cost of the building as a Bicentennial gift to the people and Government of Australia.