Friday, February 3, 2012

Footsteps - Sportsworks exhibit

To the bloggers new to reading the blog, welcome. And for those who are here following the blog on its various research and travels, welcome back. In Footsteps, we investigate a selection of exhibits outside EPCOT territory... which, for some apparent inspirational (and unintentional) reason, decided to follow in the footsteps of the Wonders of Life pavilion. And this first article issue will cover a particular exhibit which, must I confess, is apparently one closest to my resident city from where I am writing. Where in the world is the exhibit I'm writing about?
Image at  
It's in here, at a science museum somewhere in the city of Melbourne, Australia, which I'd like to introduce you to ScienceWorks. Basically, the ScienceWorks museum, as with the case of other science and hands-on museums some of you may have been to, appear to be very popular with school children, and I can recall going there within my primary school grades 5 and 6 individually. My last trip so far there was in 2007, when an exhibit on the science of movie special effects and the use of animatronic components in films was going on. Also, for overseas readers in Australia, and particularly the Melbourne area, who can recall visiting the museum as a kid (or most likely a parent) would have took notice at some of the changes in coming subsequent visits. Exhibits come and go, but believably for variety reasons, this could mean that EPCOT is not necessarily alone on the changes (for either negative or positive reasons... either  way.) But enough about the visit nostalgia...
The entrance to Scienceworks' niche attraction of Wonder's Fitness Fairgrounds exhibit, Sportsworks
[Photo found here]
As part of its array of 'permanent' exhibits, Sportsworks largely focuses on the science of human physiology behind one of our well known pasttimes and current activities - sports. And keeping in touch with the hands-on element that we see in some of Wonder's fitness related exhibits (Fitness Fairgrounds, Coach's Corner...), Sportsworks has manages one step further (and larger) with a selection of various activities related to fitness, exercise and sports in general. For instance, Sportsworks has a selection of fitness test activities, which allow visitors to test their abilities - their balance, lifting, tugging and jumping, etc. abilities. Last time I visited with my family (awww!), I recall picking up a leaflet which allowed you to fill in the results, and what you did after filling them in, you fed them into a computer and it would calculate the results.
Just some of the hands-on exhibits in Sportsworks.
In fact, school programs revolve around the museum. Photo seen on 
The west exhibit entrance, with the skeletal cyclist model suspended in midair; snowboard simulator and other displays. Photo seen on
Visitors have the opportunity to race against one of Australia's iconic athletic sprinters in sports history, Cathy Freeman.
 Also, with regards to the other activities on offer, there are some interesting activities. for instance, the interactive jogging track (while dated by technological standards) allows visitors to test their sprinting skills against well known track athletes. Other hands on activities include the rock climbing wall, and even simulation games to do with kayaking, snowboarding and (last time I glanced), an immersive game where users play 'goalie' and defend their soccer goalpost by catching the soccer balls as they fly by. How's that for stimulating?
From local news article slideshow, "Fun and Chaos at Scienceworks", accessible at
But enough about the description. What I discovered during the research that Fitness Fairgrounds and Coach's Corner, by today's standards, would have literally fainted in comparison to Sportsworks from one of Australia's iconic science museums. It's actually confirmed, thanks to personal experience as a kid (regardless of where it is) that these hands on exhibits are popular with kids, young and old. Had Wonders hung on for much longer, let alone be raised back to life, it would prove plausible to consider a similar setup for the new look Fitness Fairgrounds and Coach's Corner sections. 

Of course, apart from the science of the body, the exhibit actually gives visitors another kind of education - mathematics, measurement and the technology behind sports. In fact, the fitness activity tests included a height and weight chart for statistical purposes. From there, visitors have estimated, counted and measured their way into the fitness activities, even making their way into school programs. Oh, the far cry when EPCOT once was graced by local schools in its heyday...

...moving on. However, this exhibit isn't the only one that demonstrates science behind sport, physiology and everything else in this category. Believe it or not, depending on where the last time you visited a science museum was, you may have encountered a sports exhibit similar to this one. The Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh of the US, has a similarly titled sports exhibit in the science center - Highmark Sportsworks, and there is an entire gallery of photos from the exhibit opening if you're curious.

And that actually is it for the first run of Footsteps, ready for another lap for another type of exhibit. If you're interested in what could have been the next steps to frame up the fitness corner of a WOL gone by, feel free to stop by over at:

For the visitors on this page, I shall leave you with a question:
"If you have recently been to a sports exhibit in a science museum, where was it, what was its name, and how was it for you?"
Simply leave a heartfelt, nostalgic or interesting answer, (or even a creative response) in the comments section BELOW. Anywho, for those reading this, I would like to give thanks, and I recommend you stay tuned for the next post within WOL4EVA.

Until next time, readers!

1 comment:

  1. I was at the one in pittsburgh and they had a simulator ride that went thru the human body, like body wars


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