A Grand Adventure

Little Kids Day In

On a cool and drizzly winters morning little feet gathered excitedly at the Lucas Community Hub in Ballarat. Up the big steps of the bus they clambered with their parents not far behind. The local playgroup set off towards Melbourne. They made a stop along the way where Hillside Grandparents playgroup jumped onboard. A grand adventure awaited them at Scienceworks for Little Kids Day In. This was all made possible thanks to the National Science Week access program grant.  

Scienceworks was a busy hive of activity upon arrival. 1,850 families and friends flocked into the wonderful space with activities tailored to children aged five years and under.

Circus performers wowed audiences within the heritage-listed pumping station towards the back of the grounds with juggling, hoola hooping, unicycling, live music and acrobatics. Emerging from the action and crossing the green grass to the main Scienceworks building was quite the spectacle with the Westgate bridge hovering in the backdrop and the city right behind.

It was hard to sit still in the amphitheatre as the live music began. Hullaballoo Music got everyone’s feet tapping and Jess Higgins from Sing&Grow had all age-groups singing along with a few all-time favourite songs.

Suzie Luke from Melbourne Museum warmly welcomed the regional family group to come together for lunch.

“This is probably one of the most rewarding parts of my job to see families access Museums Victoria and I love giving away free tickets to them so they can come back whenever they want.”

Suzie said that the cost for buses is extremely high, especially for those in regional areas. The grant allows more families to enjoy collaborated events provided by Museums Victoria and Playgroup Victoria, as well as on occasions such as National Science Week.

“The funding from the grant was based on the Science Morning Tea program which assists families in accessing Museums Victoria. In this case we wanted to ensure families in areas who may be isolated or not always able to make it to Melbourne, have access to Scienceworks and Melbourne Museum with greater ease, especially leading up to National Science Week,” said Suzie Luke.

The families were grateful to have had the opportunity.

“It’s been amazing because I don’t know anyone who would have come in if it hadn’t been for this,” said Tegan from Ballarat.

“We have had a great time. It’s been amazing. ”

The excursion group was treated to a very special lunch on the day, one that had great meaning.

“For almost a decade, disadvantaged and vulnerable families have visited Scienceworks and Melbourne Museum through the Science Morning Teas program. In partnership with family support services the program connects an Education/Programs staff member with a Supported Playgroup,” said Suzie.

“The program helps build a relationship between the museum and disadvantaged and vulnerable families.”

Suzie and her team understand that it can often be intimidating or overwhelming visiting a museum for the first time, not quite knowing what to expect.

“Barriers (or perceived barriers) can exist in terms of logistics, cost, language, understanding of how museums work. In addition, families, especially those with young children, don’t always know they are welcome. Science Morning Teas has helped to create a positive connection.”

An array of rich learning experiences are provided for the children at these events. Great consideration goes into the exhibit design and content for this age bracket. Let age be no barrier however, the wonders of Scienceworks and Melbourne Museum span generations. Research, art and ingenuity come together in these spaces.

The grandparents from Hillside Grandparents playgroup were in high spirits on the day.

“We would love to come to Melbourne again on an excursion!” said one grandmother.

She said she was enjoying it so much the second time around, being present with her grandchildren.

“We love it [playgroup].”

“We can feel isolated at home ourselves, as mothers can with their babies- and we are looking after our own parents. It’s good to share those experiences that others are going through, too.”

On the bus on the way home the children shared their favourite parts of the day:

Some things the kids said they loved about the day:

“The bus!

The room where I made the music and watched the lights.

The wheelbarrows

The light switch wall


 “I think it was great to have the opportunity, being a regional playgroup and having to travel so far,” said Tegan from Ballarat Playgroup.

After a scrumptious lunch and one last look around, the group gathering and scurried across in the trickling rain to where the warm bus was waiting for them, tired but happy after a day well spent.

Article by Sinead Halliday

Source: Museums Victoria
Photographer: Rod Start