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Volunteer Spotlight: Ricky Chu

Have you ever wanted to volunteer with Science World? Well, Ricky has been volunteering here for 16 years and has made some cool memories and stories from it. In this interview, we find out what he does around the dome and what he likes about being on #TeamScienceWorld.

What drew you to Science World?

I started volunteering at Science World because I wanted to see what a workplace was like. My interest in science made Science World a natural place to volunteer.

At Science World, volunteers can select which gallery they'd like to work in—why did you choose to volunteer in the Eureka Gallery?

I ended up in the Eureka Gallery because it has all the coolest exhibits and demos! Eureka has changed a lot since I started. Back then, it was called Main Gallery and it looked like a hippy's dream—a dimly lit area with a centrepiece featuring a psychedelic bank of lights that flashed with 60's music playing in the background.  Physics demos were scattered around in what seemed like a boundless space. A couple of my favourites from that era were the plasma ball (still here!) and the giant bubble sheet. Today's Eureka is awesome too, but in a very different way.

What do you like most about volunteering?

I mostly like sharing my enthusiasm for science. I think that, in our digital world where we are constantly flooded with information, it's important to have a way of figuring out what info is useful and what's not. Science is one filter we can apply.

I especially like talking about the cloud chamber. There's so much science packed in there. There's large-scale space science, involving cosmic rays coming from distant stars, black holes or other astronomical objects. Then there's small-scale particle physics, talking about the tiny particles that compose the cosmic radiation we get. 

Do you have a favourite story from your interactions with visitors in Eureka? 

I don't have a particular favourite story, but what comes to mind are all the moments when I'm at the cloud chamber and I meet someone as fascinated by it as I am. Sometimes, it's other technically-minded people, like engineers and physicists (I'm a physicist by trade). There's also the rare teenager who just can't help but stare at the cloud chamber for a few minutes. For those few minutes, it's like we're part of a very exclusive club.

What have you learned from volunteering with Science World?

I've learned how to get along better with people. As a kid, I was really shy and awkward. The idea of talking to strangers scared the heck out of me. Science World is as welcoming and safe an environment as you'll find to become more social. The staff and volunteers are all friendly people. Visitors, for the most part, just want to be entertained and are happy with whatever momentary diversions you can offer. I'm still a little shy and a little awkward, but I've come a long, long way.

Hear from another volunteer about their time at Science World and keep an eye out for our next volunteer intake for your chance to join us!