Science class made cool: check out Scienceworks’ newest exhibition

Beyond Perception

A ground-breaking new exhibition at Scienceworks, Beyond Perception: Seeing the Unseen’ puts teenagers very much front and centre.

What’s a savvy way to get high school students excited about considering a science, technology, engineer or maths (STEM) career? Ask THEM what they want to see.

That’s the approach taken by Scienceworks in their latest exhibition that has been two years the making. Along with consulting 28 top scientists and engineers from Victoria’s universities and research institutions, the curators involved 37 students aged 12 to 15 to have their say on what they’d like to experience in a STEM-centric exhibition.

The result? A fun, interactive compendium that uses the latest research on 3D scanning to digitally dissect the extinct Tasmanian tiger, shows how black holes collide and create gravitational waves (building on Einstein’s 1916 theory of relativity) and explores aerodynamics by allowing you to move small rocks through a haze of liquid nitrogen. And that’s just for starters.

At least half of the exhibition collaborators are female – a significant move given that nationally, women comprise just 28 per cent of the STEM-qualified population.

Watch the video for a taste of what to expect.

Video transcript: Beyond Perception: Seeing the unseen


Georgina Jerums
We’re at Scienceworks for the opening of a new permanent exhibition called Beyond Perception, which is all about revealing the amazing world of science and technology in a new immersive way, and the best thing about it … it’s been co-curated by teenagers for teenagers.

[Vision: Scienceworks light displays

It’s a lot about input.

Young teenage boy
They’ve come to us with things that they thought they would like and we’ve agreed or disagreed.
[Vision: Young teenager interacting with science display]

Young teenage girl
I reckon the best bit is the whole exhibition it’s just amazing.
[Vision: Scienceworks interactive display]

David Perkins – Experience Developer
So we got them in once a month to tell us if they liked our things or if they didn’t like our things.
They like open-ended things which they can figure out – a challenge in themselves.

[Vision: Scienceworks interactive light display – “Science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated.” – ROSALIND FRANKLIN (BIOPHYSICIST)]

They really didn’t like things which are so straightforward or are sort of babyish you know.

Jonathan Shearer – Acting General Manager, Scienceworks
[Vision: Diagram of how particles change]

It’s enquiry-driven. You explore it with your own goals in mind. It’s intriguing, it’s hands-on, it’s social.

[Vision: Young teenage girl interacting with display]
You discuss it with your friends, you post it on social media.

[Vision: Scienceworks display showing how turbulence can move objects]

The exhibition has been two years in the making, with the Victorian Government contributing 3.75 million dollars.

[Vision: Scienceworks display showing gravitational waves]

And its focus is on hidden science, everything from gravitational waves to invisible light to synchrotrons.

[Vision: Johnathan Shearer speaking]

So we’re exploring the unseen aspects of physics.

[Vision: Display showing wave forms]

So we’re looking into wave forms and energy forms and forces that you can’t easily see.

[Vision: Students interacting with display showing black hole formation]

So as you explore gravitational waves you create your own black holes, crash them into each other and send out bursts of gravity.

[Vision: Display showing how turbulence can move physical objects]

As you’re exploring turbulence you can move physical objects around. You can blow particles through complex patterns.

[Vision: Digital display]

You can move digital objects around. You can look at the flow model through computers.

Dr Christy Hipsley – Evolutionary Biologist, Museums Victoria
[Vision: Skeleton of the Tasmanian tiger display]

So we’ve been having a long-term project on the Tasmanian tiger. And we’ve been wanting to look inside their bodies to look at their skeleton, to look at things like the way that they grow, the way that they become very dog-like or dingo-like.

[Vision: Digitalised view of Tasmanian tiger – Johnathan Shearer speaking]

One of the great things about this is that, not just for Victoria, but this can be a world first in a way to actually engage young adults in STEM.

[Vision: Young teenage boy interacting with display – TURBULENT ENCOUNTERS]
It’s just very exciting and you feel very proud when you see the final exhibit that you’ve put input into, and it just makes you proud of yourself.

[A brand new immersive experience at Scienceworks]


[THE VICTORIAN CONNECTION – For more news and stories go to The Victorian Connection –]

[Speaker: Authorised by Victorian Government, 1 Treasury Place, Melbourne]