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A Message from the Director
Welcome to 2016
2016 is already shaping up to be a busy year for Questacon with the Centre experiencing record breaking visitor numbers in January and February this year.
In October 2015 Questacon welcomed the Gallery of Australian Inventiveness including the Enterprising Australians Exhibition and the new Tinkering Space into Gallery 5. Thanks to our Principal Partner, The Ian Potter Foundation Questacon visitors have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the invention and innovation process, uncovering the different aspects of invention, their place in the invention cycle and how they influenced the stories of several Australian inventors. Visitors will be inspired to invent and uncover their own personal invention cycle. Questacon’s tinkering space exists to encourage participants to openly explore science and technology and become familiar with the engines of design and innovation. This is done through the creative, hands-on problem solving challenges that allow for extended exploration driven by an individual’s curiosity and motivation.
On Tuesday 13 November 2015 Questacon was delighted to host the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull and former Prime Minister the Hon John Howard with our Questacon Council Advisory Chair, Mr Leon Kempler to launch the inaugural Questacon Walks of Wonder named in honour of Mr John Howard. The John Howard Walk of Wonder is the first in a series being planned by Questacon which recognises eminent Australian supporters of science and technology. The walks engage users to see science and wonderment in objects and landmarks they see every day. The first walk comprises 19 points of science-related interest within the Parliamentary Zone and it can be accessed via smartphone or tablet using a free app which provides interpretive information in a variety of formats.
Also in November we welcomed the new exhibition Spiders to Gallery 1, the exhibition is a collaborative project between Questacon and The Australian Museum. Spiders will be on display until 9 October 2016 and showcases 14 interactive exhibits aiming to demonstrate how fascinating spiders are and their importance to our ecosystem. The exhibition will highlights Australian research, new discoveries and the associated science stories and with up to 200 spider specimens it including live Australian arachnids Tarantulas, Funnel Webs, Red Backs, Huntsman, Jumping Spiders and St Andrew’s Cross web weavers.
In partnership with the Australian Science Teachers Association (ASTA), Questacon jointly delivered the first STEM X Academy - a five day residential professional learning program for 47 teachers held in Canberra. The programme combined training in inquiry-learning techniques along with collaborative development sessions with scientists. The aim of the programme is to create activities for the classroom that cover cutting edge science while also providing a national network for teachers.
In January 2016 the inaugural National Questacon Invention Convention was held in Canberra with support from The Ian Potter Foundation and IP Australia. The National Questacon Invention Convention was a culmination of the new Questacon Smart Skills Initiative tours held in Tasmania, the NSW South Coast and the Victorian Goldfields throughout 2015. The Invention Convention brought together 24 young Australians aged 14-18 years old to encourage them to be innovative, creative thinkers and problem solvers with a focus on technology and entrepreneurship. Throughout the five-day convention, tech experts provided the young inventors from all over Australia with the framework for new ideas, while workshops allowed them to develop their own prototypes.
On Tuesday 15 March the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) announced November 10 as the International Day of Science Centres (ID16). As a member of the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) global committee Questacon will join with countries around the world to showcase the efforts of science centres in supporting the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development goals. In celebration of the day Questacon looks forward to engaging with schools from across the nation through a ‘make off’; a challenge set for students in transforming trash into a common object everyday item.
Professor Graham Durant AM, Questacon Director