Saturday , May 8 2021

Take me to the moon: Questacon celebrates 30 years

From its humble beginnings as a 15 exhibition show at the old Ainslie Public School, over the past 30 years, Questacon has grown into one of Australia's most visited attractions, beloved by young and young at heart.

Visitors took a moment to the lounge under the new moon exhibit.

Visitors took a moment to the lounge under the new moon exhibit.Credit:Elesa Kurtz

Each year the center records 250,000 drops from its famous free fall exhibit.

Visitor services manager Adam Robbins said while Questacon's aspirations had remained the same for 30 years, the biggest change had been his reach.

"What we've always tried to do is inspire and engage people in science," Mr Robbins said.

"Our reach has changed dramatically, we're not just local anymore. With our virtual tours we've gone international."

The Questacon Science Circus is a traveling show of 40 exhibits that traverses the length and breadth of Australia, stopping primarily in regional centers to bring the joy of Questacon to as many people as possible.

Los Angeles based rocket scientist John Bucknell with his son Emory.

Los Angeles based rocket scientist John Bucknell with his son Emory.Credit:Elesa Kurtz

Mr Robbins added the center's focus to a strong focus on hands-on learning for children, which is why their exhibits always encouraged people to physically interact with them.

After experiencing the countless exhibits featured on Saturday, which sprawled outside the building into the brilliant sunshine, many visitors found their way to the center of Questacon's large spiral walkway.

Questacon's new and captivating exhibit is a inflatable replica of the moon, the only one of its kind in the southern hemisphere. It measures seven meters in diameter and is suspended above a darkened room where visitors lounge around beneath and take in the wonder of the moon's surface up close.

It, along with the new LEDUSA – a series of more than 45,000 hanging LED lights – were both unveiled in the past week.

Questacon got the tick of approval from a real life rocket scientist John Bucknell, who helped develop the Raptor engine for ElX Musk's company SpaceX.

Mr Bucknell, from Los Angeles, was vacationing with his family in Australia and decided to check out the festivities.

"The number of truly good science museums around the world is low," Mr Bucknell said.

"This one was really highly rated and we were not disappointed at all.

"All the exhibits are really well put together and it's great for adults and kids alike."

Questacon took out the gong for the tourist attractions in the Canberra Region Tourism Awards on Friday night and will represent the ACT in the category at the national awards in Launceston in March.

Elliot Williams is a reporter for The Canberra Times

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