Australian Synchrotron Open Day 2013 – what happened

A record number of enthusiastic visitors – more than 3500 people of all ages – flocked to the Australian Synchrotron on Sunday 13 October for our Open Day 2013, despite the weather!

Visitors told us it was “inspiring” and “wonderful to get a real insight into where Australian science is heading”. They loved the careers advice, felt that “funding science like this is important” and said “thank you to all the informative and patient scientists, they provided excellent explanations”.


Highlights for visitors included the ever-popular ‘Synchrotrons for Dummies’ presentations in the Oliphant Auditorium, ‘make your own spectroscope’ laboratory sessions for nine- to 14-year-olds, and specialist tours guided by accelerator science, engineering, computing, medical imaging and personnel safety experts. Visitors also loved the enthusiastic and approachable way that Synchrotron scientists and staff responded to questions and offered explanations tailored to the expertise of questioners.


Many young participants enjoyed completing the synchrotron passport, including making their own thumbprint, with the prize of a synchrotron tattoo (very cool!),while others tried their hand at the craft and colouring-in activities. T-shirts sold like hotcakes, with men’s sizes selling out completely on the day, and other merchandise items were also well sought after.



New presentations on synchrotron careers and industry applications of synchrotron science were very popular, with several universities (La Trobe, Melbourne, Monash, RMIT and Swinburne), the Synchrotron and ANSTO setting up display booths to complement the careers session. The algal bioreactor exhibit at RMIT was a definite drawcard.


Just under nine out of 10 visitors said they were coming to see us for the first time, according to an exit survey that found open day visitors were typically curious about what the facility did, interested in science or looking for a family day out. Repeat visitors came back because it was ‘fun’ or ‘awesome’ or they wanted to bring others with them. In 2013, visitors enjoyed learning about the facility, talking to scientists about their work, and viewing open day posters, displays and videos. Seven out of every 10 survey respondents felt they had a much better understanding of the synchrotron by the end of their open day visit. Survey respondents offered a range of useful suggestions for how we could make our next open day even better, including improved signage, ‘start here’ introductory displays, more guided tours, information specifically for younger visitors and more activities for kids.



Catering this year was provided by Peter Rowland, the organisation that runs our onsite Kitchen Synch cafe. Yarra Valley Water brought a hydration station, and other food offerings included a coffee van, barbecue and Tex Mex.

Visitors clamoured for photos with four of Melbourne’s finest 501st Legion Star Wars Stormtroopers, and a larger-than-life ringmaster on a two-wheeled personal transporter provided information and entertainment in the National Centre for Synchrotron Science.


Radio station Triple R conducted a live broadcast from the Synchrotron for its Radiotherapy and Einstein A Go-Go programs, including interviews with Interim Director Andrew Peele, Head of Science Mike James, medical imaging specialist Chris Hall and accelerator physicist Mark Boland.

And what did staff think, nursing sore feet and sore throats after working from 10 till 4 with little time for breaks?

“It’s been a busy day, but seeing the enthusiasm of the public for what we do here, and even for the buildings we do it in, has revived my enthusiasm for my job, and my appreciation for what a great place this is to work.”

Thank you to all visitors for coming to see us, and to staff and other contributors for doing such a great job. We look forward to seeing all of you again next open day!