Our April school holiday programs saw budding scientists getting their hands dirty and exploring the mysteries of light.

We began the first week with ‘What’s in Our Backyard,’ exploring something that is often overused and overlooked – soil. Our first stop was the museum’s Birds and Insects gallery where we investigated the occupants hidden in the mini-world below.

Kids unearth the secrets of soils with soil scientists.
Kids unearth the secrets of soils with soil scientists. Image: Ashleigh Harrington
© Australian Museum

How realistic is the world of Minecraft? We descended the sub-soils of Hyde Park to test out the Minecraft “Periodic Table of Minecraft” (and probably learnt as much about Minecraft from the kids as they learnt from us!).

Resident Australian Museum expert Martyn Robinson stopped by for a chat about backyard mini-beasts and had all the kids equipped with magnifying glasses, rifling through leaf litter. The kids then donned their rubber gloves to dissect worm specimens.

The highlight of the day was a visit from soil scientists Roy Lawrie and Sally McInnes-Clarke from the NSW Soil Knowledge Network. Roy and Sally had the kids performing real-life experiments practiced out in the field, like pH testing and texture identification. They made sure that every kid went home a little bit grubby, and eager to head out into their own backyards.

Our second week, “Come into the Light,” had the kids whizzing through the electromagnetic spectrum. We began by taking a trip down to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition to see fireflies and glowing nudibranchs (sea slugs) as well as how light has advanced photography.

With experiments which would have made Sir Isaac Newton proud, our junior physicists created white light and manipulated their brains with optical illusions.

We looked into how the eye uses light to see colour by transforming everyone into human rods and cones from the retina of the eye. We also investigated how insects use bioluminescence to hunt and hide, with touches in the dark for a deep-sea predator-prey game.

To finish the day we played around with black lights, making luminous DIY glow-sticks and observing some unique minerals ‘fluorescing,” down in the Planet of Minerals exhibition.

Explore the Museum and learn more about the world around you over the break with our school holiday programs. Come Into the wild with us and delve into the depths of the ocean for our July Scientist for a day programs.