How our trip to Canberra developed my daughter’s inquisitive nature

Travel date December 2016

Canberra is best known as being the capital city of Australia and home to well enamoured politicians (I’m joking). In continuation of my road trip post (Sydney to Canberra why road trips improve your child’s navigation skills), Ariana travelled to Canberra for the first time. Canberra is also well known for its museums which convey everything from science, history and art. In my view, children need to develop their ability to ‘enquire’. With Ariana being 2 years old as at the time of the trip, it was important to ensure Ariana was a child who enquired about everything around her. Children should be exposed to as many new experiences as possible in order to challenge their development process. New experiences create a repository of questions for children that allow them to become inquisitive to the world around them. When you foster a culture of enquiry within your child, you allow your child to develop their inquisitive nature. Being inquisitive is an important quality as it develops your child’s eagerness for knowledge and curiosity to answer any problems they encounter. Before our trip to Canberra we decided to take Ariana to two locations in particular, Federal Parliament House and Questacon.

To be honest, Federal Parliament House is not a building conducive to a running and loud child. However this visit was intended to expose Ariana to the women in parliament exhibition ( http://wifp.senate.gov.au/) which was on display. We have come a long way from my parent’s era in which the mother had no real career expectations outside the home (especially for migrants in Australia during the 1980s).  Even though Ariana’s development was not at a sensory stage to fully appreciate the significance of the exhibition, she was at least exposed to the plight of women within the parliamentary system. Ariana appeared conscious to the women on display. Ariana constantly queried that they were all ‘girls’ (her generic term for all women) on display. After viewing the display, it was necessary to visit the two houses of parliament, the Senate (aka the red room) and the house of representatives ( aka the green room). Again the significance of this exposure would not have been apparent to Ariana, but it was intended to be a segway to the women in parliament exhibition and a first hand view of the chambers of parliament these women had worked in. She constantly looked down from the viewing galleries and noted that the chambers were a wash with gallantry. She correctly noted “Daddy people work there!!”, hopefully there was an immediate realisation that the women she saw in the exhibition had worked in the chamber she was viewing. I hope this was a trigger to enable Ariana to recall this exhibition at later stages of her life and realise that women can easily dominate any profession perceived to be male oriented.

Travelling with Kids
Within the viewing gallery of the Australian Senate.

Questacon ( https://www.questacon.edu.au/) is a pseudo play centre which blends the inquisitorial nature of science and playful nature of children. To Ariana, Questacon was a play centre, to me it was an opportunity to develop Ariana’s curiosity. For a 2 year old the Mini Q (https://www.questacon.edu.au/visiting/nstc/galleries/mini-q) environment was a perfect place to compel Ariana’s knowledge on science. The area featured a complex water display which is intended to demonstrate the unconstrained nature of water. Parents are encouraged to ask children whether directing water in certain directions, will cause objects to float or sink. Children are able to splash water at their own discretion, in order to see the effect of water on the displays provided. Ariana was encouraged to ascertain the direction of the water she was funnelling . This allowed her to analyse the effect of constructions like dams and pipes. Ariana loved the feel and texture of the water and bubbles. Even though she may have felt she was having an innocent playdate, she was able to manipulate the water displays to her own desires, thus providing her a lesson on how water behaves. Water to Ariana was simply not just a compound which was provided during her baths, but rather an important aspect of human life which we all rely upon. Hence providing her the ability to query the complex nature of water.

Travelling with kids
During our visit to Questacon, Ariana was encouraged to ascertain the direction of the water she was funnelling.

The Rototron (https://www.questacon.edu.au/visiting/galleries/excite-at-q/exhibits/robotrons) is a tunnel which turns LEDs on and off to generate a visual illusion of movement. Ariana was infatuated by the rolling blue lights that amazed her senses. Ariana grasped  at the moving blue lights which made her feel dizzy. She enquired at the sensation, “Daddy so dizzy, what’s happening?”. However when she looked ahead she realised that her dizziness had dissipated. The experience within the Rototron, provided Ariana with a lesson on sensory systems which can be easily confused. In this case the spinning LED lights lead you to believe that you are spinning out of control even though you have your feet planted firmly on the ground.

The intention of this blog is to encourage parents to challenge their child with new experiences via travel. Traveling to museums provide a great supplement to your child’s development process in order to create a culture of enquiry within your child. This is in contrast to the easy temptation of exposing your child to an iPad screen watching endless cartoons which don’t provide a consistent platform of contrasting developmental challenges. As a trained lawyer, the most effective professionals I have met are ones who question and inquire in order to improve current working systems, achieve end goals and/ or solve pressing issues. If Ariana grows up continuing to be inquisitive about her surroundings, and develops this to a stage where she uses this to solve problems, then I will be vindicated in my philosophy of using travel to help develop her curiosity. Canberra’s museums helped foster Ariana’s inquisitive development. The exhibitions Ariana encountered posed new challenges that made her question the world around her. Even after the visit to Canberra, Ariana continued to question everything around her, prompted by her visit to Questacon and Federal Parliament House.

Happy Travelling!!

Chris & Ariana.

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