Proud 'rocketeers' pose in front of the Parkes Radio Telescope after launching their rockets.

Proud ‘rocketeers’ pose in front of the Parkes Radio Telescope after launching their rockets.

Desperate to keep the kids entertained during the school holidays? Why not turn them in to scientists.

The launch team looks on as their mighty rocket builds up pressure on the pad.

The launch team looks on as their mighty rocket builds up pressure on the pad.

Right around Australia there are activity programs for kids that present fun and interactive ways to learn about science. Check your local museums, planetarium, observatory or even radio telescope for exciting ways to keep your budding Einstein’s entertained (and educated).

During the NSW school holidays, the visitor centre at CSIRO’s Parkes Radio Telescope offers a series of science workshops for children ages 7-14. The activities cover science topics from astronomy, chemistry, physics and biology. Each session is guided by practiced educators to ensure that the kids get the most out of the experience, as well as having lots of fun.

Two young DNA Detectives collect samples of strawberry DNA.

Two young DNA Detectives collect samples of strawberry DNA.

Two very popular activities these school holidays were ‘Rocket Launch’ and ‘DNA Detectives’.

Using very simple materials, young rocket scientists were able to design, decorate and launch their own water and Alka Seltzer powered rockets.

Based on a small film canister, CO2 builds up inside until the only way out is to push off the cap with a satisfying pop (!). Many of the rockets flew 5 or 6 metres into the air greatly exciting the launch team.

Inspired by a recent video from CSIRO, an activity called ‘DNA Detectives’ demonstrated that each of us shares something in common with bananas, kiwi fruit and strawberries – deoxyribonucleic acid, DNA!

Using detergent, salt and a separating agent, the ‘detectives’ were able to extract tiny strands of DNA from strawberries. Seeing their wide-eyed amazement as the gooey strands of DNA magically appeared from the prepared fruit solution and the pride in collecting the samples and receiving certificates of achievement made for a fun holiday science experience.

Children beaming with pride as they hold their DNA samples and double helix models.

Children beaming with pride as they hold their DNA samples and double helix models.

To learn more about future science workshops at the Parkes radio telescope, check their website during the NSW school holidays: www.csiro.au/parkes