Dr Vadim Chelom is a Veterinarian, a writer and an educator. You can read his blog at www.doctor-pets.com
Published November 24th 2011
The adventure began even before we arrived, and I don't mean that in a good way. Located in the Western suburbs, Scienceworks is easy to get to - if you live in the Western suburbs. The problem is, I don't and there is a surprising amount of traffic heading across the West Gate on a Sunday morning.
Close to the destination, I thought I took a wrong turn somewhere. The area where Scienceworks is located is in a rough-and-ready industrial estate. The kind where you drive fast and keep your windows wound up. But then the clean, modern building opened up ahead and I knew that we have arrived. The parking was plentiful and free - a pleasant surprise.
In my mind the name 'Scienceworks' conjures up images of interactive exhibits where kids can learn new, meaningful concepts by working with their hands. Scienceworks does have some of that, but there was surprisingly little of the kind of exhibits I imagined. The 'optical Illusions' display at the front of the building - simple and interactive, was one of the better exhibits. The rest of the exhibition appeared to be more preoccupied with the aesthetics and appearances then with hands-on learning. The 'inside the vacuum cleaner', and 'history of home appliances' displays had a good premise behind them but were mostly static constructs creating little interest in my children. The 'human body' exhibit lacked any visual references to the inside of the human body, I suspect out of fear of 'grossing out' the audience - a disappointment.
Across the lawn, away the main building stands the old sewerage pumping station. I was quite excited to visit looking forward to showing the kids the workings of the old pumps, pulleys and levers. Instead we found the pumping equipment in the state of disrepair with the 'keep out' chain barring our way. The space was taken up by a 'storm water garbage' demonstration, which featured the character of 'Garbage' as a bad guy in a kind-of graphic story book display. For an exhibition claiming to be dedicated to science, this kind of anthropomorphic good-guys-bad-guys narrative seemed jarringly out of place.
As I am re-reading this newly written review, I recognize that my writing may have overstated the negatives of the trip, after all there were some good exhibits and my kids did enjoy the trip. I was left with a feeling, however that it all could have been done a little better.
My eight year old did enjoy the visit but I wouldn't recommend it for kids under six and it will positively bore any teenager to death. Final verdict - okay for one visit but wouldn't come back for seconds.