I'm a freelance writer based in Perth, Western Australia, who enjoys writing about the things I love: travel, nature-based activities, the arts, spirituality and creative, fun activities for children.
Published May 15th 2012
Looking for somewhere fun, affordable and intellectually stimulating to keep the family entertained next weekend? If so, the Discovery Centre at the Western Australian Museum in Perth's cultural precinct may be just the place that you're looking for. Located on the ground floor of the museum, just left of its main foyer in James Street, the Discovery Centre is open from 9.30am until 5pm daily, with the exceptions of Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day and Good Friday. On Anzac Day, it is open from 1pm until 5pm.
The Discovery Centre provides a wealth of interesting displays and educational activities which help children of all ages better understand the fascinating world in which we live. However, the specific focus is naturally on Western Australia, which makes it an invaluable point of reference for school children when researching projects on science or local history. In addition, the queries of young scientists can be addressed by the friendly Discovery Centre information officers, while more penetrating questions can be forwarded on to the museum's curators. These specialists are also more than happy to assist with identifying artefacts and specimens which visitors bring to them. Visitors, both young and old, are also able to use the reference collection and library in order to discover more about such objects.
The Discovery Centre is also a place where very young children can gain their first experiences of the wonderful world of science in a fun and dynamic way. For a small charge (between 50c and $2.50), colouring in and other craft activities are available for tiny-tots. A small library section and comfortable lounge area is also available, where educational books for children of all ages can be found and enjoyed.
Some of the popular titles which I noticed there were the 'Horrible Histories' series, the Fair Dinkum series (as the name indicates, this one is specifically Australian!), children's encyclopaedias and picture books / children's fiction which focus on animals and the environment. A good selection of books is also available for adults, with titles covering a diverse range of topics related to archaeology, local history and the natural world. There is also an assortment of educational DVDs, and visitors are welcome to relax and watch these at their leisure. Other enjoyable activities for children include nature-themed jigsaw puzzles and various interactive displays. In addition, kids visiting the Discovery Centre are encouraged to experience nature 'up close', and many of the specimens (including shells and coral samples) can be touched or held by visitors, both small and large.
Apart from the cosy and informative library area, there are many other activities for the family to enjoy at the Discovery Centre. Behind the information counter, a partitioned-off area is dedicated to live displays of insects and reptiles, in attractive and sensitively-designed aquarium tanks. The animals which are currently featured here are the western bearded dragon, a woma python, spiny leaf insects and several kinds of frogs. Various books and posters in this part of the Discovery Centre describe the animals and their natural habit.
In conclusion, the Discovery Centre at the Western Australia Museum provides a high quality recreational experience for the thinking child and adult. Furthermore, unlike much of the gimmicky and over-priced entertainment which occupies children for just a few hours before they tire of it, the Discovery Centre is a place which children will want to keep returning to, time after time. Its interactive displays and fascinating specimens (such as dinosaur fossils, stone-age tools and meteorites) teaches children that learning and specifically science, can be fun, thereby encouraging further exploration. As the museum's website comments, the Discovery Centre aims to inform both locals and visitors about the natural sciences in Western Australia, as well as the state's fascinating social and cultural history.