Surfing the Science Saturday

Surfing Scientist
The Surfing Scientist.

There’s a fine line between science and fun when you are putting on an event like the Australian Museum’s Science Saturday. It would be easy to trip over that line and let the science get lost in a playground of activities, but the Museum managed to do just the opposite. They produced a day that was fun, entertaining and had some great science activities.

We’ve been to a lot of science museums and shows so it was great to see some really novel things at the Museum yesterday. I particularly liked the science expo. There was a large hall filled with stands from various scientific institutions showing off their activities. The first thing we came across was an enthusiastic gentleman telling the kids to hold out their hands and depositing a few Black Soldier Fly larvae. The larvae proceeded to squirm about trying to find the cracks between fingers to wriggle through. Meanwhile we learnt how they’d come to Australia during WW2, how much they can eat, and got directed to the horrifyingly compelling Soldier Fly vs Fish video.  Our scientist on tap was pointing out how much more nutritious Black Soldier Fly larvae is than steak, so how does it taste we asked? “Oh that depends on what you feed it… so mostly like compost.” We zapped our heads on the Van de Graaff generator, learnt about finger printing and blood spatters, tried to build a vehicle, and much more.

The Surfing Scientist put on a great show with liquid nitrogen. Again I was so impressed that this combined fun with a real set of scientific insights. He even spent a moment explaining just how important it is to admit when you don’t know something. We all walked away having gained some insights over a thoroughly entertaining 45 minutes.

It was not all fun science; in between the kids put on a velcro suit and hurled themselves at a wall. They had a wonderful time. One of the friendly Museum staff did point out how there were lessons to be learnt from the velcro experience, although I think the kids mostly walked away having learnt that if you get all four limbs stuck down there’s no escape.

This is the first year the Museum has run Science Saturday and I hope it wont be the last. There were some logistical teething problems but the staff seemed truly keen for feedback and eager to sort things out as they went along. It’s great to see another solid science activity in Sydney and I really hope this will become a permanent part of the calendar.

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