Learning resources Top Secret: Licence to Spy

This exhibition is an excellent vehicle for demonstrating how scientific thinking can be used to solve problems in many aspects of everyday life. Students are encouraged to work together, use a range of science inquiry skills and model the scientific process of making observations, collecting data, analysing and comparing results and communicating findings.

Students also have the opportunity to use and learn about various technologies and to discover their applications in the wider world.

Key messages

  1. Technology plays an important role in spying – Technology is used to obtain information. It can improve the ability of spies to both gather and hide information, such as bugging a room with microphones and camera, or using equipment to detect and remove such devices.
  2. Spy technology is founded on science  – Much of the technology used in espionage has some basis foundation in science and scientific principles have been applied to design and create spy technology. For example, the Laser listening device picks up sound vibrations and the Laser maze explores light. 
  3. The spying process mirrors the scientific process – A spy must use the procedures of surveillance, monitoring, research and interpretation to collect and interpret a significant amount of information. A spy must weigh up the evidence they can collect and draw conclusions. Scientists employ similar methods by making observations, collecting data and analysing results in order to come to a reasonable conclusion about a scientific case.

Setting the scene

A powerful supercomputer microchip has been stolen and, if it falls in to the wrong hands, it could destroy the world. There are a few suspects who all have various motives for stealing the computer. Students will act as spies and gather the clues and evidence to solve the crime and track down the thief.

Spy FileVisiting as a group

Upon arrival to the exhibition, students will be exposed to the story of the crime. Each student will receive a Spy File, which will guide them around the exhibition, provide information about the suspects and provide space for students to record their findings. Teachers may decide that students should work together in pairs or small groups to unravel the mystery. Working in small groups is strongly recommended for younger year levels.

Teachers may decide to use an abridged Spy File (worksheet), which can be downloaded and discussed as part of the Pre-Visit preparation.

Schools and Groups will have 40 minutes in this exhibition.

Curriculum links


  • Science Understanding – aspects of physical sciences, chemical sciences, earth and space sciences
  • Science Inquiry Skills
  • Science as a Human Endeavour


  • Technology in Society
  • Technology Skills


  • Measurement and Geometry
  • Number and Algebra
  • Statistics and Probability


  • Geographical Inquiry and Skills