CHILDREN dug for animal bones, got up close to a bull ant nest, watched flesh eating beetles hollow out a carcass, and were driven to hysterics by a self-professed crazy scientist at the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery at Inveresk yesterday.
Organisers hope the activities and displays - some of which will remain until Friday - will encourage a new generation of scientists.
QVMAG natural sciences curator David Maynard said the National Science Week event was an opportunity to show the community what went on behind-the-scenes at the museum.
''People can find out about insect pinning, which relates to entomology and biodiversity, or they can find out about their ants, or they can find out about invertebrates in the Tamar,'' Mr Maynard said.
''The other side of it is we've got lots of kids' activities because they're our junior scientists, and if we get them excited they might pursue careers in science.''
Mr Maynard said there wasn't a great national uptake of science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses and careers, and Australian science could suffer if more young people didn't get involved.
''We want to get them engaged and show them that it's not just sitting in a lab coat staring down a microscope - there are some pretty cool things that you can do,'' Mr Maynard said.
Performer Darin Carr, who calls himself The Crazy Scientist, said science was important to maintaining a child's curiosity.
''I think today, the use of a lot of electronic devices stops kids wanting to have a go from fear of failure,'' Mr Carr said.
''Getting a hands-on approach in a safe environment helps them experience, explore and hopefully stimulate their problem-solving in a first-hand scenario as opposed to a second-hand one.''
National Science Week activities and events
Today at 1pm: Bug Day Out at QVMAG Inveresk. Children are encouraged to bring their own bug to this three-hour celebration of all things creepy and crawly. For more information call 6323 3798.
Tuesday, August 19 at 8pm: Nobel Laureate in Physics Professor Brian Schmidt will give a free lecture at the Sir Raymond Ferrall Centre at the University of Tasmania's Newnham Campus. For more information, or to RSVP, call 6226 2521.
Wednesday, August 20 and Friday, August 22 at 7pm: Stars in the Backyard at QVMAG Inveresk. Gaze at the stars through the museum's telescopes, with help from volunteers and the Astronomical Society of Tasmania. Admission is free. RSVP by Monday, August 18 on 6323 3798.
QVMAG Inveresk will also feature displays and activities throughout the week. For more information, visit http://www.qvmag.tas.gov.au/.