UNSW Physics at the Science Festival

The Australian Museum was host to the annual Science Festival that is held over National Science Week. Activities are dedicated towards Primary Students (11 – 13 August), the Community (15 August) and Secondary Students (18 – 20 August).

UNSW Physics were asked to deliver StarLab shows to primary school students and we requested to have a Physics Booth at the Expo to showcase and promote UNSW Physics and Science.

StarLab | Portable Planetarium

We were placed in the Long Gallery (aka Skeletons Gallery), the oldest exhibit in the Museum.

Long Gallery, Australian Museum (Credit: Shane Hengst)
Long Gallery, Australian Museum (Credit: Shane Hengst)

It was a great location but there was temptation for people from the public to roam around the dome in awe and they wondered if they could be let in. They couldn’t.

Shane presented 12 StarLab shows over the course of 3 days to a total 184 Primary School aged students.

There was one miscommunication regarding the time of one of shows. As a result, Shane managed to set up the dome in record time – 7 minutes!

Shane also decided to take some photos of inside the dome with long exposures:

(Left) James O’Hanlon | Australian Museum and (Right) Shane next to the projection system inside the StarLab (Photo Credit: Shane Hengst)

(Left) James O’Hanlon | Australian Museum and (Right) Shane next to the projection system inside the StarLab (Photo Credit: Shane Hengst)

 Having some fun with a laser pointer. (Photo Credit: Shane Hengst)


Having some fun with a laser pointer. (Photo Credit: Shane Hengst)

Physics Booth | Demonstrations

The hands-on activities we had on the booth demonstrated a range of physics phenomenon including the Motor Effect, polarisation and electromagnetism. Our most popular interactive device is the ‘Van de Graaff generator’ which demonstrates electrostatics.

Spark Jump (Photo Credit: Ana Andres-Arroyo)

Spark Jump (Photo Credit: Ana Andres-Arroyo)

Due to extra volunteers, the staffing of the booth was very successful compared to previous years where UNSW Physics has been involved with the Expo. There were anywhere between 2 to 5 people for the booth.

Kids playing with the Van de Graaff generator. (Photo Credit: Ana Andres-Arroyo)

Kids playing with the Van de Graaff generator. (Photo Credit: Ana Andres-Arroyo)

It was good to see both presenters and students alike to be enthused about Physics!

Shocking! With Laura Wade looking ec-static! (Photo Credit: Shane Hengst)

Shocking! With Laura Wade looking ec-static! (Photo Credit: Shane Hengst)

Having Physics booth at the Expo is a great way to engage with a lot of school students and public. It presents an opportunity to interact with school teachers to promote our workshops and activities, such as the StarLab.

Feedback

Comments provided by Crestwood Public School (forwarded by the Australian Museum):

“…we were treated to the University of New South Wales Starlab Planetarium where we experienced an amazing tour of the southern night sky [sic].”

“My favourite workshop was the last one where we got to see stars up close. When the presenter showed the stars everyone said “whoa” and “awesome”.”

“My favourite part was when we got to go in this huge dark dome and there was a guy who taught us about stars, Suns and constellations by projecting the night sky and explaining all the stars that we could see around the roof of the dome. It was really interesting and we all learnt a lot.”

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