13th November – Monday
Today we went to Questacon, which is the National Science Museum full of lots of hands-on educational practical science displays and activities. It’s a favourite of schools, and Zach came here for his Canberra school camp, and Jessie was supposed to as well, so here we are. First of all they want $10 to park here, but I find some free 1 hour parking just around the corner – I’ll just have to move it every hour. The short walk there passed some interesting sculptures but there was nothing to say what they meant. I came up with a good interpretation of one particular peice though (see photos below). It costs $70 for a family to visit Questacon which is a bit rich considering it’s Government owned. I would have expected it to be like any other gallery or museum where my taxes had already paid our admission, but Jessie really wants to go and Zach is pretty keen too. The least they could have done is offered free parking. There’s some great stuff inside and we all enjoy it, although it gets a little crazy when you are competing with large uncontrolled hyped up school kids in some parts of the museum. It pays to be just ahead or just behind them. Maree and I particularly loved the Sisyphus Machine, which is a 21st century take on the traditional Zen sand garden. Artist Bruce Shapiro invented the elaborate kinetic drawing machine that uses magnets to drag rolling steel marbles through a thin layer of sand to create complicated mandala-like patterns. You could sit and watch it for hours, and you probably would if you hadn’t paid $70 to get in for the day. It was cool to see the different patterns each time you’d walk past though. Jessie’s favourite thing was the Free-Fall Slide, where she had to wear a bright orange pair of overalls, climb some stairs to a platform, where you then hang from a bar momentarily before releasing, free-falling a very short distance before you’re gently picked up by a big slippery slide. She had one go when it was super busy with all of the other school kids, but luckily when we came back after lunch they’d gone, so she and Zach had several goes in succession. Zach and I liked the air hockey that you play against a robotic arm. The robot never loses. There was also a machine that records the speed you can pitch a tennis ball. He beat me by 1 kmh and wouldn’t accept my injured shoulder excuse. We were both pitching way slower than professional female softballers though, so best to move on. I had to keep excusing myself to go outside to move the car so as not to get a parking ticket. I spied an efficious parking officer lurking around looking for victims and didn’t want to become one of them -(welcome to Canberra – your Nation’s Capital). Back inside we also went on an earthquake simulator where the floor shakes at 2 and 5 on the Richter Scale, and also watched the lightning simulator go off. It was quite tiring trying to take everything in, but we got a full day out of it. Driving home we drove up Anzac Parade towards the Australian War Memorial and stopped to look at all the different memorials. The sculptures of the Light Horsemen on the Boer War memorial was particularly impressive, both in scale and detail. We finished off our day by meeting my old work mate Steve, who lives back here now in Canberra. Steve set up this blog for me (thanks Steve), and it was good to catch up with him again.
The Sisyphus Machine – brilliant!