ACT News


Science in Action's daleks, planes and virtual hang glider impress

The next generation of scientists were given some inspiration on Saturday with planes, moving daleks and a virtual hang glider on display at the Old Bus Depot.

Oskar Rug, 10, was one of those transported from the third annual Science in Action event to the skies above Stanwell Park Beach on NSW's Illawarra coast thanks to the world's first virtual reality hang glider.

"I thought it was great, it really felt like it was real," he said.

The simulation is the work of Braidwood and Canberra company VidiAir, and involves donning a pair of virtual reality goggles and strapping into a grounded glider that uses laser monitors to track the manoeuvring of handles and eyewear.

VidiAir director Anthony Hoy said the first public display of the product was three weeks ago and it was hoped it would be embraced by hang gliders for training.

The company was also establishing a Remotely Piloted Aircraft System Academy, run with the Academy for Interactive Entertainment in Watson, where participants could build, tune and fly drones.


Michael Brock was showing off a different kind of flying machine, with the University of NSW electrical engineering student part of a team who had built an autonomous quad-plane hybrid that he hopes could win them $50,000 in a national event in September.

"The competition this year is to fly 30 kilometres to find a guy who is injured and sick, and once we get there we have to take a blood sample and then fly back," he said.

The unmanned quad plane is complemented by a similarly autonomous communications relay aircraft that can take large-scale images.

Daleks ran rampant – at set times – throughout Saturday's event, with the robotic rolling menaces beloved of Dr Who fans worldwide doing a lap of the event while delivering their infamous megalomaniac catchphrases about exterminating humans and ruling the world.

Ruben Hyndal, 11, from Ainslie, was being more constructive as she used toothpicks and sweets to create atom shapes at another of the 44 exhibitions. She also said she enjoyed making a bee "B&B" as instructed by the Australian National Botanic Gardens, with a spot at home already picked out for her creation.

Proving the day's variety, she also got to squash a strawberry and use water, soap and ethanol to bring out the DNA.

National Science Week runs from August 13-21.