07 January 2003
HIACE TAKES SCIENCE TO COUNTRY KIDS
Do baked beans really make you windy? Can you stick a skewer into a balloon without it bursting?
These are just some of the questions posed during the Investigator Science and Technology Centre’s program of Science on the Go as it tours South Australian country areas.
Three Toyota HiAce vans - sponsored by CMI Toyota in Adelaide at a discounted price - carry the equipment and props used by the teaching team.
The HiAces are booked all year round by primary and secondary schools and community centres.
The Investigator Science Centre can present about 30 shows or themes, according to marketing manager Helenmary McMeekan.
The music show, for example, delves into the science behind making sound and how sound waves work.
The bubble show - which demonstrates how bubbles can be made and why they exist - concludes by dressing a small child in a raincoat and rubber boots and engulfing it in a huge bubble.
A Maths Lab poses puzzles for secondary school students, while a portable planetarium - the StarDome - prompts discussion about the constellations and why stars die.
The brightly-coloured Toyota HiAce vans have travelled as far north as Alice Springs and Oodnadatta on a 6,000 kilometre round trip.
During the first week of November they completed a Lower Yorke Peninsula trip of just over 600 kilometres.
The HiAces are also touring country shows, providing hands-on experiments and science demonstrations aimed at raising community awareness and understanding of science.
The Centre has 14 full-time staff and 20 casuals, many of whom are science teachers and students, who take the programs on the road.
The Investigator Science Centre is a non-profit community organisation, established 11 years ago by Dr Barbara Hardy, AO.
The Joint Managing Director of CMI Toyota, Mr Paul Crawford, said that offering the subsidised HiAce vans to the Centre under a sponsorship agreement created an opportunity to take science backed by resources to rural areas.
He said this opportunity for many SA children to enjoy and learn about science through the Investigator Science Centre might not have been available otherwise.
Science on the Go co-ordinator, Emma Killey, with the Toyota HiAce van used to take science programs to SA country areas.