Questacon’s magic formula

The Questacon logo on the glass of the building's entrance.

The main entrance to science and technology centre, Questacon.

It may sound strange to have saved our most anticipated family day out for nearly six months but, as I have written before, there really is so much to do in Canberra.

But all this time, ever since our plane’s wheels first touched down here, discussions of every CBRbound clan day out have been punctuated regularly with a single interjection from the kids: “Questacon.”

A model of an astronomer staring skywards.

Questacon’s mission to inspire and educate is clear from the outside.

This is not some form of tourist attraction Tourettes. It’s just that during our research trip here two years ago, the science and technology fun palace that is Questacon made such an impression upon the kids that they have been begging to return ever since.

A nondescript concrete block on the shore of Lake Burley Griffin — the stunning architecture of the National Museum appears to taunt its dull exterior — Questacon more than makes up for its unambitious exterior with a spectacular interior and staff that every kid on Earth would want as their science teacher.

The main entrance hall of Questacon, looking up to balconies and walkways.

Inside, Questacon wows from the start.

There are eight distinct zones to Questacon, each exploring a different aspect of the sciences, and if that sounds dull because you remember school trips from a bygone era, suffice to say that this is science education with an injection of Disney-like imagination that had both CBRbound kids rapt from arrival to reluctant departure.

A child whizzing down a slide.

A gravity lesson, accompanied by a : “Wheeeeeeeee!”

Gravity is demonstrated with a jump-suited free-fall wall and slide, the inner workings of the brain via visual and sensory illusions and hands-on demonstrations that had them shrieking and whooping with delight. And then there are the talks.

A child's silhouette projected against a multicoloured screen.

Learning how colours work, with a bit of dancing too.

“Who wants to go to one of the science talks?” I asked the kids.

No takers.

“Come on. They’ll be good,” I tried, perhaps overselling them, I thought.

So we went.

We saw a 30-minute presentation on mummification which featured enough references to gore and goo to satisfy the most ardent fan of zombie movies, and a session on how rockets work that fired the kids’ imaginations like you wouldn’t believe and had them feigning Russian accents for two days.

Two children watch a lightning arc.

Watching lightning being created in the safety of a Faraday Cage.

“What was everybody’s favourite thing?” I asked at the end of the day.

“The talks,” came the reply from two young voices.

Questacon was just as big a hit second time around as it was the first. As a result, we signed up for a family membership which means we can return again and again for a whole year.

A child looks through a container of bubbling liquid.

Using liquid and bubbles to distort the path of light.

It’s true that Canberra has so much to see and do that you could do something different every weekend, but some things bear repeating and Questacon has been installed as our family favourite for the next 12 months at least.

A child following a trail using a Questacon mirror device.

More trickery, this time using a periscope-type device to follow a line on the floor.

One thought on “Questacon’s magic formula

  1. Eddy says:


    Yes, Questacon really is great, and great for grown ups too. It used to be housed in the old Ainslie Primary School (actually in Braddon), and moved in 1988. The building and new and expanded gizmos (or perhaps just some of the funding for same) was Japan’s gift to Australia for the bicentenary.

    When I was at uni I knew a science graduate who worked there, and said it was his dream job. I can see why.

    Thanks for your post,



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s