The Lightning Room also know as Victoria University High Voltage Theatre, is quite an amazing place. The theatre seats 120 people and you face a large area that has a safety fence from ceiling to floor. In the area behind the fence there are a number of very interesting things, amongst which is the highlight of the show a giant Tesla Coil. (In brief the Tesla Coil from is a high-frequency air-core transformer). This one at Scienceworks is capable of generating two million volts of electricity to produce three metre lightning bolts. And no other science centre or museum in the world utilises such high voltage generation!
The Trekking Towards Tomorrow show starts of by illustrating how quickly technology moves and how it transforms they way we live. The presenter took the audience through the technology history of recorded music and how we listen to it, ending with of course the iPod. I found the presenters style engaging and knowledgable and you could tell he enjoyed putting on the show.
Trekking Towards Tomorrow is interactive as the selected kids are asked to come up to front of the fence and help out. I could see my two older boys who had sat down the front were bursting to have a turn and the 9 year old had his chance at the very last activity. He told me later that he was glad he was last “because it was the best experiment to work on”. Master 9 had to roll a ball to set of the magnet chain of events that led to a stack of empty cans being knocked over – and he got to do it twice! The second time he helped set it up as well. Other children had turns at pedaling a bike to generate electricity, blast rockets and make a magnetic train speed along above its tracks.
The show runs for 30 minutes which is perfect length for kids and it is recommended for children aged 6 years and up. I did however have our four year old with us for the show. The age recommendation is based upon the loud noise that lightning makes and which could be frightening for children. Everyone is also required to cover their ears when the sound is going to occur, so children need to be able to do this themselves. I would suggest that you think about the personalities of your kids to make sure that they would enjoy the show. For instance, my four year old was fine with the show and my six year old sat very close to me and did get a slight fright with one of the bolts of lightning.
The lightning display comes at the end of the show, and not only is it quite impressive, it is very educational. Before the display starts, the presenter asks the audience whether whether we think the human will be safe in the different sceanrios (eg bus shelter, boat, airplane etc). The lightning bolts hits the sceanrios behind the fence and you can see how the lightning travels through them. I have to say I now know where not to stand in a lightning storm!
Myself and all the children enjoyed the show. Trekking Towards Tomorrow is running until 11 July. For full times and details and bookings online you can see the Scienceworks website. The show itself is an additional fee (Adults $5, Concession $4 and Children (3-16 years) $3.50) on top of the Scienceworks entry fee which is only Adult $8, Concession and Child (3–16 years) free entry, so it is still a very affordable activity to do with the kids.
NB. Trekking Towards Tomorrow show is running through school holidays, but apparently school holiday shows tend to book out pretty quickly, so I would recommend booking soon if you intend on going in this coming holidays.