Crowdfunding: Community in Action

As I write this, Discovery is very close to receiving the $30,000 it needs by the end of August to keep its doors open. Of course, this amount isn’t the total amount needed, but supplements funds from other sources. The community’s support has been astounding!

How much ‘breathing time’ does this money buy Discovery? Well, with the incredible support from the community, local business and local government, we had nearly enough to ensure we can stay open for the next twelve months. Our crowdfunding campaign was to raise the extra $30,000 that we needed to get us over the line, but we know it’s only a short term funding solution. During this next year, our new Board will secure long-term partnerships and further develop our business plan so we can ensure we have a sustainable operation to continue beyond the next twelve months – hopefully for another twenty years! This is already in process and the Board are presenting our revised business plan to Bendigo City Council very soon.

Why crowdfunding, though? Personally, I love the personal nature of a crowdfunding campaign. Whether you’re a campaign creator, a supporter or just someone who’s interested, you can go to the webpage and see exactly where the campaign’s at; that’s a real-time transparency which I like. Yes, crowdfunding is a little like putting one’s hat out on the digital footpath and collecting contributions from passers-by, but rewards (also called perks) which supporters can choose for certain levels of donation mean people have the option of receiving something in return for their giving.

Really, though, the success of Discovery’s campaign will be a firm testament to the support that Discovery enjoys from Bendigo residents and beyond. People from thousands of kilometres away have made contributions to help keep Discovery going. Isn’t that wonderful?

I thought I’d leave you with this image by Minh Uong of the New York Times:

Crowdfunding image

This picture says it all: the community has reached out and given Discovery a helping hand during this difficult time. Discovery can now return the favour by continuing to providing intriguing, inspiring science experiences into the future. Huzzah!

Crowdfunding: Community in Action

Discovery: Bendigo’s link to something larger

I’ve always loved the symbolism of Discovery’s building, which was once part of Central Victoria’s railway system. Railways link people and places, and Discovery, being an interactive science and technology centre, links people with the concepts and wonder of science: how appropriate!

Discovery, as Bendigo’s own science centre, connects the city to exciting science communication initiatives on Australian shores and further afield. There are some amazing, innovative projects out there.

For instance, young migrants from refugee and disadvantaged backgrounds are able to access science engagement opportunities in Australia through Opening Doors. The Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science also offers science centre workshops in Indonesia and a science circus in South Africa, in partnership with Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre.

Bendigo has already encountered science theatre through Teacup Tumble, which schools and the public could enjoy last year. Kinda Thinky is a different sort of science communication event, which its creators say “has a dedication to leave no evidence-based stone unturned and no juvenile joke unsaid”.

Research into matters relating to science communication abounds. Projects about science, health and television, twitter and GM food have been completed, while sadly one investigating fan perceptions of the gender and power dynamics between the Doctor and Zoe and Romana (from BBC’s Doctor Who) failed to gather sufficient data to draw significant conclusions.

In Discovery’s early days, some staff attended a science communication conference in Helsinki. In fact, I’d love to get a world map and put pins in science centres past and present staff have visited globally – perhaps that’s an idea for Discovery’s 20th birthday party later this year!

The Heureka Science Center in Finland
The Heureka Science Center in Finland

However you choose to look at it, science communication is most certainly a “thing”, and Discovery can be seen as the focal point of Bendigo’s connection to that global discipline.

All the more reason to keep Discovery open, right?


Has Discovery made a difference to your life? Feel free to contact manager@discovery.asn.au if you’d like your story to be included in this blog.

As this is the last week of our crowdfunding campaign, please pledge your support if you haven’t done so already, and please help us to get as many people on board as possible! You can hit the big red button below to help us reach our target:

Support

Discovery: Bendigo’s link to something larger

Hopes and fears

Being involved in crowdfunding certainly is an adventure! You have enormous hope that you will achieve the outcome you dream of; and where there’s hope, there’s fear.

We dared to dream big for this, the last week of the #saveDiscovery campaign. Since those big, green digits were behaving themselves and ticking over nicely, we set ourselves a stretch target, hoping to raise a further $6,000 by the end of July.

“Why do this?” you may ask. (“Why put yourself through it?” is something my family has been asking me!)

Well, we needed $30,000 from the community by the end of July to keep Discovery open – but this additional $6,000 will fund a new minibeast zone, featuring critters like this one:

Minibeasts

Raising the funds for this now demonstrates that Discovery is planning on more than simply surviving. We’re planning on thriving into the future, and funding the minibeast zone is just one concrete way we can demonstrate our commitment to that future now.

Of course, we can’t get complacent. We still need to raise all of the $30,000 required by the end of the month. However, I think we also have a very real chance of raising the additional money.

What does this mean for those who love Discovery and want to see it flourish? During these last days of the campaign, please pledge if you haven’t already done so. Please spread the word about Discovery through your networks: the people you work, rest and play with. Ask them to pass the word on. Share this link with them, or if they’re not digitally inclined, remind them that Discovery is open, and can accept contributions.

Perhaps you can get a head start on your Christmas shopping. There are gifts for people who live near Bendigo. Purchase a membership! Get tickets to the ‘Science of Chocolate‘ event! Snaffle a private Vertical Slide Session!

There are also options for people who live further away. Snap up one of Doctor Karl’s signed books! Get an “I heart Discovery” badge, or some rocket balloons!

Phew! Now I feel hopeful again 🙂 I trust you do, too.


This is the last week of the campaign blog. If you have a story about Discovery you’d like to share, contact manager@discovery.asn.au as soon as possible. 

 

Hopes and fears

Guest Post: Ailsa Wild

I first came to Bendigo Discovery Centre as part of a tiny independent theatre duo, Teacup Tumble. We had a touring show called It’s Not Circus, It’s Science which we’d made in Melbourne, performed in a village festival in NSW and were ready to take on the road. ‘Disco’ took a punt on us and we performed at the centre and toured our show to schools in the region.

Our show was utterly ridiculous. My character made stupid jokes about quarks, wore fake nerd glasses and seriously irritated her onstage colleague. The show also had the “Aha!” factor. We performed circus tricks to demonstrate the rules of physics – and the kids loved it.

Teacup Theatre

Until I had performed this show, I don’t think I understood what science engagement could be. How funny it could be. What a group of 250 cheering children engaging with science could look like.

The CEO of the Bendigo Trust dropped into our show ‘for five minutes’ then stayed for the whole show and congratulated us afterwards. We were thrilled.

After that Disco and Teacup Tumble made friends. Disco supported us to tour regional schools the following year, where we performed for hundreds of kids in tiny country schools. The year after that, Disco partnered with us to write a grant submission, which was successful. The grant enabled us to make another show, working with kids from Bendigo South East College. This was a class of kids with learning issues who struggled with simple maths concepts. They helped us come up with some of they key ideas for the show and then helped with the production elements of our performance.

This new show toured the region, to hundreds of children. I have two main memories of that tour. I remember performing in a small country school, where there were less than 30 kids. The staff were just so grateful to have an affordable, high quality incursion to the school – which (considering that the families split the costs) is usually impossible.

I also remember the endlessly friendly generosity of the Bendigo Discovery Centre. The use of the auditorium for rehearsals meant we had a home base throughout the development and tour (and somewhere to make cups of tea). As an independent artist who makes theatre in rent-by-the-hour rehearsal spaces or even in my loungeroom, I am so grateful for the support the Bendigo Discovery Centre offered us.

I could tell our shows were valued in the Bendigo community, from the gorgeous emails from kids, the thanks from the teachers, and the roars of laughter while we performed.

Partnering with artists is only one of the many ways Bendigo Discovery Centre works with its community, but it’s the one I have seen first-hand. I hope such partnerships can continue for years to come.


Want to help Discovery survive – and thrive! – into the future? You can contribute to our crowdfunding campaign here.

If you have a story about Discovery you’d like to share, please email manager@discovery.asn.au.

Guest Post: Ailsa Wild

Exciting news: stretch target!

Thanks to the support of people like you, dear reader, the #saveDiscovery crowdfunding campaign has been doing well! As I type this post, we’ve passed the $26,000 mark, out of the $30,000 we needed to help Discovery survive: Save Discovery $26k mark Being tantalisingly close to attaining our “what we need to survive” goal, we’ve taken a bold step: we’re introducing a “stretch target”. Yes, that’s right: we’re daring to dream that Discovery may not only survive the next twelve months, but may also continue to grow! Brave Audacious Stupid

We think that, with the continued support of yourself and people like you, we should be able to reach our original $30,000 goal. What we are now hoping is that we can also raise a further $6,000 to create a new invertebrate enclosure at Discovery. The minibeast zone will provide long-time Discovery resident the Giant Ant with some friends! The fancy new invertebrate enclosure will contain a few sticky friends to live with the Giant Ant, as well as some preserved specimens and magnifying glasses so you can get really up close and personal with some creepy crawlies. Add to that our meat ant farm we built last year PLUS a new indoor-grass floor covering, and you’ve got a whole minibeast zone to explore!

But wait theres moreBecause we’re asking for more, we’re offering more. Famous science communicator Dr Karl has kindly contributed eight signed books to the #saveDiscovery campaign, and these are now available as part of our crowdfunding efforts:

Dr Karl Rewards

So (you may be asking) what can I do? Well, first of all, we need to be sure to reach our original, essential target of $30,000; so if you’ve been meaning to contribute, but haven’t yet done so, today is the day to turn those intentions into actions – or even indulge yourself with an extra reward from the fantastic selection on offer! Now that we’re on the home stretch, entering the last week of this campaign, it’s more important than ever to spread the word to friends, family and random strangers about what Discovery is going to achieve and the wonderful perks people can choose from.

We’ve got this far because of the generosity and support of people like yourself. Thank you! But remember – our campaign ends next Friday 31 July. During this last week, it’s important to gather as much support as we can, from far and wide. 

Thanks again for your continued support. We couldn’t have come this far without you!

Exciting news: stretch target!

Guest Post: Phil Spark

Today’s guest post is written by Phil Spark, Discovery’s Education Officer.


I first heard about Discovery when our family moved back to Bendigo from Sydney in 2000 and my sister, who had a family membership, invited my wife, our children and me to a visit Discovery with them. Being an astrophysicist, a science teacher and a university lecturer, I was in my element as soon as I walked in the door. All aspects of the Centre “pushed my buttons”, from the Planetarium which covered my love of astronomy and spaceflight, to the Vertical Slide which shows gravity in action, to the hands on exhibits that allows visitors to explore science in their own way in their own time.

Two curious kids at Discovery

In 2005, I was fortunate enough to commence as a staff member of this fun-tastic place where I conduct Planetarium shows, throw people down the Vertical Slide, mess around in The Lab with schools and generally interact with visitors throughout the Exhibits areas. The greatest reward from working at Discovery is the interaction with people as they explore things they may have been familiar with in a new way and seeing the “light come on”.

A Curious Kid in action

The biggest reason as to why I love Discovery so much and why it is a vital facility for the community is our Curious Kids program. Curious Kids, which is held on the first and third Mondays (and the following day as well), is for children aged 3 to 5 years and their carers. As the facilitator and presenter of the program I get to read a story to the attendees and then we explore a science concept that is related to the story in some way. Just being able to watch the interaction between the children and their carers and to facilitate these ‘Oh Wow!’ moments is priceless. No monetary value can be placed on these times together but Bendigo and the world would be a much poorer place without The Discovery Centre being able to provide these experiences for  everyone.


If you’d like to help keep Discovery open, click here.

If you have a story about Discovery you’d like to share, contact manager@discovery.asn.au – but do it fast, because our campaign ends on 31 July 2015.

Guest Post: Phil Spark

Guest Post: Teagan Brown

Hi my name is Teagan Brown. I am a proud Bendigo local, studying a science based PhD at La Trobe University here in Bendigo and I have worked at the Discovery Science and Technology Centre for over six years now.

I have been interested in science from a young age and I fondly remember visiting Discovery as a child. I was so captivated… how many cool things can they fit into one building? It was for me a realm of new investigation and quite literally Discovery, all of which is available in our own backyard.

It was the first year of my Bachelor of Science when an advert circulated at university seeking casual employees for the centre. This was the most awesome prospect ever and it seemed like the ideal first job for me given the scientific nature of the place! I couldn’t wait to become a member of the team that actually was responsible for inspiring the next generation of scientists, so luckily I got the job!

I love the place as much now as the first day I started. There is something really special about engaging in a persons’ uncovering of the world. There is also never a ‘dull’ day at Discovery, children mastering their fears of the vertical slide, enjoying the wonders of space in the planetarium and the awe of the exhibits and science workshops.

There is science in everything that we do day-to-day and it is the underlying reasoning of how and why a lot of things work. It is often taken for granted just how much a science background can shape your life. It is the kind of subject that you learn but can always find out more about. The centre helps children and the local community to harvest their natural curiosity and further understand the world around them. Critical thinking of the world and its happenings is crucial, especially in childhood development promoting lifelong learning, so the Discovery centre is more than just a cool place to go, it actually helps the wealth of our society.  #saveDiscovery

The author with two other Discovery staffTeagan Brown is in the middle of this pic

Do you have a story about Discovery you’d like to share? Contact manager@discovery.asn.au – we’d love to hear from you!

You can help to keep Discovery alive by supporting our crowdfunding campaign. Crowdfunding is all about connections, so please spread the word among your friends, family and networks that Discovery is worth saving, and contributing to the campaign is a concrete way to help! Thanks in advance.

Guest Post: Teagan Brown