The enthusiasm of the South Australian public for all things tech and Tonsley helped make the innovation district’s recent first open day an outstanding success, attended by an estimated 10,000 adults and children.
Visitors streamed into the iconic Main Assembly Building to experience all that was on offer at the event, held on 24 March 2019 in partnership with Science Alive!.
The open day was held to showcase how the former Mitsubishi factory site has been transformed into Australia’s most awarded innovation district since the last car rolled off the production line in 2008.
Project Director Vince Rigter said the response to the open day was overwhelming.
Vince Rigter, Tonsley Project Director, Renewal SA
"The Tonsley Open Day really did show that South Australians are keen to learn more about science, technology and innovations being developed locally and the career and business opportunities these offer for people now and for their children in the future. Renewal SA thanks every person and organisation that helped to make our first open day such a success."
More than 70 activities were offered on the day, with 43 Tonsley-based businesses, organisations and attractions involved. This included ZEISS, Micro-X, Voxon Photonics, ZEN Energy, Tesla, Humanihut, Somark, Siemens, TAFE SA, Flinders University, more businesses and the Global Centre for Modern Ageing.
Science Alive! Event Director Brian Haddy said he was thrilled with the number of children and adults who came to Tonsley for the open day and got involved in the science-based activities.
Brian Haddy, Event Director, Science Alive!
"It was really pleasing to see the kids getting engaged and to see their parents, who were not just supporting them, but getting really excited themselves about science."
“Those activities went beyond the superficial stuff and were very much about chemistry, physics, biology, robotics and other science and technology disciplines.” said Mr Haddy
Among the VIPs who came to the open day were Industry and Skills Minister David Pisoni, Member for Elder Carolyn Power, and South Australia’s Chief Scientist Professor Caroline McMillen.
Andrew “Cosi” Costello of “South Aussie with Cosi” fame was a roving reporter, broadcasting live on the main stage information about open day attractions and interviews with exhibitors from all around the MAB.
Open Day fun facts
Some fun facts from the Tonsley Open Day:
- 1000 “HydroDogs” were cooked and sold by Australian Gas Infrastructure Group and the Tonsley Rotary Club on a hydrogen-powered barbecue, raising $2000 for food relief organisation, Foodbank
- Over 4,200 children and adults watched the seven Science Alive! shows held through the day
- About $500 worth of cornflour was used to make slime as a Science Alive! activity
- Each person who went on the Discover Tonsley Trail visited between 20 and 25 attractions each (see winners below)
- Throughout the day, the businesses and organisations involved in the trail were visited approximately 30,000 times.
Discover Tonsley Trail competition
The Discover Tonsley Trail competition was a drawcard for adults and children alike, with more than 3,200 entries submitted. Participants gathered stamps as they visited and interacted with at least 15 of the 43 activities spread throughout the MAB and beyond.
These included taking a bird’s eye view of Tonsley via a virtual reality headset, riding in Flinders University’s FLEX Driverless Bus or in myCar’s 100% electric Tesla Model X, coming to grips with TAFE SA’s trades technology, or making a smoothie with pedal power thanks to the City of Marion.
All the passports were submitted for random selection to win one of two technology-themed prizes.
First prize was awarded to eight-year-old Archie Anderson of Rosewater, who won a prize that suits his interests to a tee — an Oculus Go VR headset. Archie is a budding game developer and he spent the entire open day at Tonsley with his family. His favourite attraction was Lateral Vision’s VR display.
Emily Pullens, 13, of Aldinga will now be able to build and program her own robot at home, as she won second prize in the competition, a Meccano M.A.X. Robot kit. Her favourite stop on the Discover Tonsley Trail was TAFE SA’s Information Technology display, a coding demonstration with Sphero robots.
Another Open Day winner was Tonsley neighbour, Scott Jeisman, of Alawoona Avenue, Mitchell Park, who won a Google Home Hub in a Facebook-based competition run by Cosi.