Last updated August 1, 2018 at 10:14 am
Museum experts turned to local teenagers for help when creating their new exhibition at Scienceworks.
If you could create a science museum exhibition, what would you put in it?
That’s the question Museums Victoria asked a group of teens when developing the new Scienceworks’ exhibition, Beyond Perception: Seeing the Unseen. The soon-to-open exhibition is all about invisible science aimed at teenagers.
Named the JBoard, the group of local teenagers, aged 12-15 years, met once a month to advise on the development of the exhibition. They worked alongside 27 scientists and engineers to consult with the Scienceworks team.
“To ensure that we were creating an experience that was appealing to young adults, everyone from the exhibition producers, to marketing and technical staff met with the members of JBoard. Together they’ve shared ideas, reviewed design proposals, tested prototype exhibits and critiqued video content, their feedback has informed almost every area of the exhibition,” explains David Perkins, Experience Developer at Scienceworks.
Teens making a difference
Working with teenagers put Scienceworks on a learning curve, but the result is an exhibition with broad appeal.
“We’ve tested everything with them. From prototype exhibits, programs, communication and animation styles, labels and science topics,” said the Scienceworks team.
“They took a while to begin to tell us what they really think but it also took us a while to ask the right questions.”
The JBoard was selected after an open call to teens in the local area and online application process. The resulting JBoard panel maintained a good gender balance and selection of representatives from all the surrounding suburbs.
Since May 2016, 37 teenagers have been involved in JBoard. They’ve held 21 meetings over the past two years.
JBoard member Tanya Kovacevic was part of the project for the two years. She is excited to see the exhibition, with all of JBoard’s feedback, completed.
“I’m hoping that Beyond Perception will make other teenagers, who aren’t so keen in pursuing a career in science, realise that it’s not just working in a lab or occasionally lighting something on fire; it can also be about designing exhibitions and teaching others. I’m so happy that we’re finally able to show everyone what we’ve been doing at JBoard, and I hope everyone will enjoy the exhibition as much as we did making it.”
New discoveries all the time
The exhibits in Beyond Perception explore the unseen forces around us, from gravitational waves to aerodynamics, turbulence, CT scanning technology (invisible light) and sound. It demonstrates current research, both local and international, that are continuously discovering new things.
“We want to convey that science isn’t finished and that new discoveries which expand our understanding of the universe are being made all the time, and right here in Melbourne and internationally. We want young adult visitors to walk away with a renewed sense of awe at the world they live in, the technology they use and feel inspired to become part of it,” explains David.
Visibility of women in STEM was a strong driver in the exhibition development. Over 50 per cent of the content collaborators are female. The exhibition itself purposely incorporates gender-neutral colour schemes, language and design.
The new permanent exhibition follows the opening of Ground Up: Building Big Ideas, Together in December 2017, aimed at zero to five-year-olds. Together the exhibitions are part of a $6 million gallery redevelopment, supported by the Victorian Governement, to initiate lifelong STEM engagement from babies to young adults.
Beyond Perception: Seeing the Unseen opens at Scienceworks on Saturday 12 May and is free with admission.