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American Express International, Inc. (ABN 15 000 618 208, AFSL No. 237996). Incorporated with Limited Liability in
Delaware U.S.A . ® Registered trademark of American Express Company.
Where: Questacon, Parkes
When: 9am-5pm, daily
Cost: $20 adults, $15 children
Phone: 6270 2893
that suits her to a tee.
Her enthusiasm for her work is
highlighted by a desire to ensure that
everyone who visits the centre becomes fully
engaged in the Questacon experience, not
just the youngest members of the group.
“When I am talking to a family, I will
explain to the children, but I will check that
the adults are enjoying and are interested in
what I am talking about it as well,” she said.
“There is this false idea whereby
theoretically you talk to children one way and
adults another, but in fact, for most people
simple language is the best.”
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Ms Wanless
said adult visitors are often no more
knowledgeable when it comes to the
scientific themes on display than their
For the majority of people, scientific
investigation is left behind at the classroom
door, leaving only vague, fractured memories
of people, theories and indecipherable
That indifference and even aversion
held by many adults toward science is just
one of the challenges faced by Questacon’s
exhibition designers, who endeavour to make
science relatable to the average individual.
Based in a facility in Fyshwick that
sounds suspiciously like a boffin’s paradise,
Questacon employs a bewildering array of
scientific talent to turn textbook proofs into
Graphic and industrial designers, IT
experts, metal workers and electrical
engineers are all involved in creating
exhibits based on everything from how our
brain perceives the world to the science
behind natural disasters.
Cindy Chambers is part of the
institution’s Concepts and Education
team; a group tasked with coming up with
the ideas from which Questacon’s future
exhibits are born.
According to Ms Chambers, Questacon’s
charter of communicating science and
technology throughout the whole country
means a lot more goes into designing an
exhibition than most people would realise.
“We have to try to make sure we build
something that is great for visitors but will
also tour around Australia effectively,” she
“Everything has to fit into a crate, it has
to be able to be lifted by a certain number
of people and it needs to be able to be self-
installed in a really quick period of time.
“If Perception Deception for example,
which is one of our travelling exhibitions,
goes to a library in Broome, the librarian
there needs to be able to install that
Bringing science and the importance
of scientific education to the attention
of the wider community is undoubtedly
Questacon’s most important function.
According to Ms Wanless, it’s a role that
is even more important now than it was 30
years ago when Questacon was born with
a vision to make science accessible to every
“I have no doubt that understanding
more about the world around them enriches
people’s lives,” she said.
“Yes, science is part of our culture, but it’s
even more than that because understanding
how the world works predates our culture;
it’s a part of human nature.
“I do think it’s rather sad that an awful lot
of people now don’t know or care how the
world works anymore, because to me, that
knowledge is a really important part of the
enjoyment of life.”
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