Canberra has several unique family attractions but how many places have a Questacon. A place that can engage a toddler and an octogenarian alike, while teaching science along the way.
Literally meaning to discover and study, Questacon has indeed been true to its name and intention. It provides high-quality interactive science and contemporary exhibits to enhance our understanding and love of science.
Located in the parliamentary triangle since its inception in the eighties it has welcomed over 10 million visitors and reached out to over 32.5 million people via travelling exhibitions, outreach and other programmes. What started with modest beginnings in an unused space of Ainslie Public School by Professor Mike Gore, went on to become Australia's largest, and one of the world’s leading, science centres.
On the occasion of The Australian Bicentenary, half of the cost of its current building was generously donated by the Japanese government and business community, as a memorial to Australian Japanese bicentennial project.
With over 200 interactive science exhibits, Questacon is like a science Disneyland. Toddlers can learn all about the reptilian world or explore the Mini Q (an exhibition for the 0-6 age group with a water play area and a role play area). Older kids can attempt to launch a couple of rockets in the foyer, explore their inner scientist in the Q Lab or choose to hang out at The Shed, a space dedicated to experimentation with ideas, tools, science and technology and art. Kids can have a mini adrenaline rush at Excite@Q, a high energy, high impact and highly addictive zone, complete with a six-metre free-fall slide.
The Science Theatre shows a number of performances to explain scientific concepts through an in-house theatre group called ‘The Excited Particles’. And if you are a budding cryptographer, Questacon also has NKRYPT, an installation outside the main building that consists of 8 laser etched poles each with an encoded message. To date only about one-fifth of NKRYPT’s codes have been deciphered, and not all of the mysteries revealed in these decoded messages have been solved.
The whole family can enjoy themselves at Questacon, and when it’s time to take a break the café serves some really good coffee and even offers gluten-free meals.
Why should kids have all the fun…a trip to Questacon will be an amazing experience, leave a lasting memory and will serve as a reminder that Canberra is not to be outdone by Sydney or Melbourne, but is a fantastic city of its own.