Scienceworks, Questacon in Canberra, and other science centres around the world were all based on a 1980s model of "making science fun", says Dr Nurin Veis, the newly appointed manager of Scienceworks. Now we're all comfortable with that fact, what Veis wants is for the 21-year-old Spotswood centre to look more closely at some of the other things science can be – scary, invigorating, inspiring, challenging.
"We know Scienceworks is very popular with children, but we would like to welcome visitors of all ages. One might even go so far as to predict a time in the future where adults would be coming to Scienceworks without any children and finding that there are plenty of experiences for them here as well."
A major factor behind this new direction is the changing face of Melbourne’s inner west. "Scienceworks is located out in the west and we’re seeing that the whole demographic of the west is completely changing. So there are a lot of fantastic, young and groovy people living out here without any children. And Scienceworks really has the capacity to become a whole cultural centre which is based around the themes of science and technology, but also encompasses areas of the arts as well."
Dr Nurin was a medical researcher, first in Melbourne and then in New York. It was during her time in New York that she discovered the pleasure of talking about science to non-scientists. "I found I got asked the most intriguing, big picture questions; questions that often even in science we were not asking."
She also thought it was a shame that such curious minds didn’t have access to things that scientists and medical researchers commonly did. This is what led to her role as the Senior Curator of Museum Victoria’s medical collection – where she developed exhibitions like The Human Body (which lets visitors to the museum look at actual human anatomical specimens).
Sure science can be fun, but what Dr Nurin wants is to show how science can be inspiring, for adults and children alike. "I’d love people to be able to say, 'my batteries are running a bit flat, why don’t I go to Scienceworks to see what’s there that can inspire me?'"
Adult-friendly activities coming up at Scienceworks this winter
Ticket to the Universe: Take a tour of the universe in a new Melbourne Planetarium show that will 'fly' you off planet Earth and out to the stars and beyond.
Bolt from the Blue: A cracking live show that explores what we know – and what we don't – about lightning.
Discover the Night Sky: A series of after-dark astronomy classes held in the Melbourne Planetarium.
For dates and ticket prices, go to the Scienceworks website