The QUT Cube Winter Program | The Review

Meet the scientists

The event has now passed. 

Rocks. Dinosaurs. Art.

I challenge you to find a Brisbane Kid that hasn’t become completely fascinated (read obsessed) with one, if not all of these at some stage in their short life.  Based on all the children I know, my own being no exception, I would say there are very few and it is for this reason that the QUT Cube’s Winter Program is already proving to be a huge hit these school holidays.

The QUT Cube

QUT Cube

If you haven’t been before, the QUT Cube offers an impressive and immersive workshop space for children.  Housed in QUT’s Science and Engineering Centre, the Cube consists of various light-filled rooms and open learning areas but it is the 48 multi-touch screens that soar high over two storeys that never fails to impress. Collaborating with STEM researchers, the team work hard to create programs that allow the public to become ‘citizen scientists’ as they discover and become involved in real project scenarios.

This winter, the team have gone one step further by creating a program that combines science, art and fun all under the one roof. Through interactive and hands-on workshops, Brisbane Kids can become budding geologists, experience a world-first Dino Zoo and delve deep into the works of award-winning Australian Artist, William Robinson.

THE ROCKS – Become a Budding Geologist

Designed for children 8 years and older, the Become a Budding Geologist section of the program was the main drawcard for my rock-loving daughter and I.  Years of collecting and researching hundreds of backyard treasures meant that my daughter, who turns 9 this year, was very excited to spend time with real-life Geologists and to have an opportunity to experience working alongside them.

Run by current in-house QUT Geologists, this workshop very much lived up to what she was expecting.  The friendly and animated scientists initially spent some time with the kids exploring and expanding on their knowledge of all things rocks and fossils before sending them off in groups to various workstations where they could put their knowledge to the test – literally.

QUT Cube

Each station presented the children with a different exploratory challenge.  At the first station, my daughter was able to examine and work on identifying whether mineral samples on slides were sedimentary, metamorphic or igneous based on the shape and patterns they saw through the microscope.

At the next station, they were challenged to look at six different rocks and minerals and work out, based on their description and possible benefits and uses, which everyday products they could be found in.  This workshop was probably the most difficult and in some cases surprised the group of children as they realised the rock they were holding went into creating things they use daily, like toothpaste or a glass.

QUT CUBE

In another area, children were asked to identify a mineral based on an identification flow chart.  This was probably my daughter’s favourite activity.  As she made her way through each identification process she was asked to perform tests on her chosen mineral to help determine what it was.  By examining its colour, whether a nail could scratch it, if it was flexible, if it was magnetic or if it bubbled when acid was applied she was able to work her way through the flow chart to her desired answer.  I think she felt this activity felt very much like they were little scientists on a journey of discovery.

The children were also able to select a range of different rocks and minerals from a table and examine these closely beneath a microscope to see how they differed and, based on what they saw, determine what they may be.

QUT Cube

Finally, and the section that gathered much attention and exclamation was the augmented reality sandpit.  Here, children were able to dig and move the kinetic sand to create their own ever-changing landscape.  As they created mountains and valleys they were also able to fill rivers with water via the digital interactive software by holding their hand over the area, effectively acting like a rain cloud!  They could then watch as the areas gradually dried up.  This impressed the crowd to no end and had an eager lineup most of the time.

THE DINOSAURS – Dino Zoo

QUT Cube winter program

Once your Brisbane Kid has exhausted their time as a geologist it is time to turn their hand at palaeontology.  Down the stairs and on the front section of the giant central screen you will find Dino Zoo, the most scientifically accurate portrayal of life-sized dinosaurs in the world!  Thanks to Artificial Intelligence they even act like the real thing so as you play and navigate the games on the individual screens below these creatures tower and move around their zoo above you which is actually quite amazing to watch.

My daughter loved playing with the related interactive games for this such as digging up dinosaur bones and identifying different dinosaur prints, and she was spellbound by the different representations of catastrophic events that may have led to their extinction.

THE ART – Nature Imagined

Nature Imagined - William Robinson

In stark contrast to the dino zoo exhibit, on the other side of the giant screens, you will find Nature Imagined, an artistic digital learning experience which is the result of a partnership between QUT’s William Robinson Gallery and The Cube.  Here, visitors are able to view three of the award-winning artist’s landscape works which have been digitised for the first time in high resolution and are invited to learn more about our natural environment through interactive information screens.

Much like a giant phone photo screen, kids and adults can use their finger tips to zoom in and out of the image, moving it around until they spot a small ‘X’ on the screen.  Not only does this allow them to see the elaborate brushstrokes and delicate mix of colours in more detail, upon clicking on an ‘x’ you are taken to another screen that displays real photos and videos of flora and fauna that are depicted in the painting as well as facts and information about them.  It is a great way of combining science with art and I would encourage visitors to head over to the William Robinson Gallery as well to learn more about the art you are exploring either before or after playing with the interactive displays.

Micro Macro

In one of the back rooms on the ground floor of the gallery children and adults alike can also have a turn at becoming artists themselves with Micro Macro.  By viewing up close the environment in which William Robinson painted, visitors can have a go at drawing everything from leaf veins and bacteria to grey gums and rainbows and have the choice to add it to a large collaborative collage at the end.

Scavenger Hunt

For children aged 13 and over, be sure to check out the information on The Cube’s Scavenger Hunt game before you head in. By using the GooseChase app, children can complete challenges, discover facts and follow missions whilst exploring the Nature Imagined exhibition.

Overall Impression

Dino Zoo

The truth is, even if your child has never had an obsession with rocks, dinosaurs or art they are bound to have a ball and learn something new at The Cube’s Winter Program.  Anything that encourages STEM, discovery, exploration, art and creativity in our children is a winner and with something to entertain all ages, it is an easy one to visit with the whole family during the school break.

I would absolutely recommend a visit to the QUT Cube these holidays and during the winter program.  With a full day’s of exploration and discovery to feed your child’s curiosity and imagination how could you really go wrong?

Tickets, bookings and Additional Information

QUT Cube

Location, Dates and Costs

The Cube is located at Room P413, Science & Engineering Centre (P Block), QUT Gardens Point.  This winter program runs from Saturday 7 – Saturday 14 July 2018.  Cost is FREE.

Become a Budding Geologist

Although the Become a Budding Geologist group workshops are currently booked out, you can register your interest by joining the waitlist in case a place becomes available.  Don’t fret if you don’t get a spot though!  All of the activities included in the workshop will be available every day from 11am to 2pm at Meet the Scientists sessions – there is no need to book, just drop-in.  This workshop is recommended for ages 8 – 15 years of age.

Dino Zoo

This exhibition is recommended for children aged 5 and over and is open daily from 10am – 4pm.

Nature Imagined

This digital experience is FREE and suitable for all ages.  Micro Macro is open from 10am – 2pm and is available for drop-ins, with no bookings required.  Group scavenger hunts run daily at 11am and 1pm though you can also do this yourself at any time from 10am – 2pm.  Those keen to participate can register for the Scavenger Hunt in Room P413, 5-30 minutes prior to the session time.

Parking

Visitors who park at QUT’s two public pay-on-exit carparks on weekends receive a low daily rate of $10.00. Visitors who park on weekdays are eligible to receive a discounted rate of $5.00 per hour or part thereof. Discounts will only apply to parking tickets validated by staff at Old Government House front desk between 10am–4pm. Visit parking page for details.

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