Outreach blog: First Week of Tour

Shell Questacon Science Circus
29 August 2018

This blog post written by Master of Science Communication (Outreach) student Arron Flynn. 

If you’ve ever wanted to feel how it is to be a rock star, join the Shell Questacon Science Circus. There’s no greater feeling in the world than walking through a primary school being surrounded by little smiling faces all muttering “QUESTACON IS HERE!!!” It’s great. Ok there is a better feeling: watching those same faces screaming with pure joy as they watch their friends ride a hover board, stand inside a giant bubble, or watch you hold fire in your hands, all while unknowingly learning about science. Life in the circus isn’t just rock star moments though. Behind-the-scenes work and all the emotions that brings is just as important and memorable.

Shell Questacon Science Circus

I get knocked down, I get up again, no one’s ever going to keep me down

The cool thing about Science Circus is the amount of experience you gain. The phrase “the more you put in, the more you get out” rings true. One example is managing the Science Circus media presence while on tour. Each tour a group of people are given the task of promoting the circus on the road.

Monday was a “no-show” day, a day where we didn’t have any science shows scheduled. Ahhh how relaxing does that sound? 

It wasn’t.  

Merri and I were headed to Toowoomba, door knocking all the major media stations. We were both nervous. It was up to us to get the Science Circus interviews on local T.V and radio. The first places we visited, we were unsuccessful, sent away with just a generic email to contact but with lessons to learn from.

Emotionally drained and thinking thoughts of quitting, we were giving up hope but had one more place to visit. Using all that we had learned about spruiking ourselves throughout the day and putting on a brave face, we managed to score and interview with WIN – making it onto the local five pm news!

Shell Questacon Science Circus

Science shows, head bangers and teachers with rockets

When you think of a museum what do you think of? Personally, I think of old stuff that you can’t touch. So, when I had the opportunity to do a science show inside the Cob & Co Museum I was nervous, but excited because when would be the next time I got to ride a hoverboard inside a museum?

On top of the unique venue, the show was for 70 home schoolers and their parents. You see children are great audiences, they are so excitable and responsive. However, adults… well, they take some more work. But challenge accepted, I was going to make these adults enjoy themselves, whether they planned to or not.

And like it they did, Merri and I were in sync, feeding off each other’s excitement and nerves and having a great time. Apart from the child friendly adult humour dubbed ‘Pixar humour’, our secret? EPIC HEAD BANGERZ! The life blood of The Science Circus is listening to epic tunes such as Girls Just Want to Have Fun and Barbie Girl - making any stressful situation fun and relaxed.

The perfect example of tunes coming to the rescue was on Thursday, when Leisha and I hosted a Personal Learning Workshop for teachers at the fanciest school I have ever been to (they had their own Olympic standard running track!!). Leisha was freaking out, we were 30 mins late for set up, the venue was up two sets of stairs (which sucks when your all your gear is 15kg plus and awkward to carry) and this was our first time doing anything like this. What could we show people who have been teaching their whole life?

Taking inspiration from I Want to Dance with Somebody we decided to have fun, and it worked. By the end of the night every single teacher planned to change the way they taught science in some aspect. It turns out, that when teachers fire water rockets, marshmallows and puffs of air at each other they work out just how much they can shake up teaching science. I’ve never seen a happier person than Leisha on the drive back when we realised how this was going to positively impact the way the students would learn about science.

Ever wanted to travel the country, talk about science and maybe even hold fire in your hands? As part of the ANU Master of Science Communication Outreach you get to tour around Australia with the Shell Questacon Science Circus. There's a stipend and some really amazing experiences. Applications close on the 31st of August each year.

More info on the Master of Science Communication Outreach page.