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

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!

Have you checked out our new rewards?

We launched the #saveDiscovery campaign with a wonderful swag of rewards: family and individual memberships to Discovery, liquid nitrogen birthday parties and private vertical slide sessions, to name a few. But did you know that other rewards have been added since the campaign began?

Bendigo Blues and Roots Festival Membership ($95)

This year-long membership includes free entry to Festival showcase events, discounted entry into other Blues and Roots events, and an awesome merchandise pack. For more info on the Blues and Roots Festival click here. Only one of these passes remains, so if you’re interested, snap it up!

Bendigo BR Fest

The Science of Chocolate ($60)

You can claim a ticket to the “Science of Chocolate” evening on Friday 13 November for just $60. The ticket price includes delicious canapes on arrival, delectable chocolate tastings, a chocolate workshop facilitated by scientist and chocolatier Chloe Miller, your own chocolate centrepiece to take home, as well as time to explore Discovery! Drinks are available at bar prices on this adults-only event.

Chocolate

Family Day Out in Bendigo ($190)

Enjoy a whole day in Bendigo! Start your day exploring the Discovery Centre then go on the Mine Experience, tour where you’ll descend 61m underground to experience Bendigo’s golden history. You also get to enjoy a tram ride and tram depot tour! This family pass is for up to two adults and up to four children. Four family passes remain.

Central Deborah


If you’re interested in any of these rewards, or if you simply want to support the Save Discovery crowdfunding campaign, please click here.

Perhaps you’ve already pledged financial support and want to help in other ways? Click here for some suggestions.

If you would like to offer a new reward to support Discovery’s crowdfunding efforts to remain open, please contact manager@discovery.asn.au.

Finally, if you have a story about Discovery that you’d like to share on this blog, please contact manager@discovery.asn.au – we’d love to hear from you!

Have you checked out our new rewards?

Science education Centres are creating Australia’s young innovators

As the Bendigo community decides whether to keep the Discovery Science and Technology Centre open, it may be pertinent to consider recent research on the impact of science centres and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education, and their place in Australia’s technological and industrial future. This piece, written by Craig Cormick, originally appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on 1 January, 2015.


Will building a hands-on science centre in outer Sydney lead to an increase in students in the area studying science and engineering, and, subsequently, an increase in innovation? It is an important question to ask before committing funds to the project.

Australia likes to pride itself on being an innovative nation but the reality is that the benchmark for innovation has moved a lot further beyond inventions such as the Hills Hoist, stump-jump ploughs or fencing wire solutions.

Building a science and innovation capability along with an entrepreneurial culture should be priorities for Australia.

To build a nation that values learning, science, technology and skills, a lot of attention has been placed on education in schools and ways to better teach, or increase participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Rather less attention has been placed on developing creativity, imagination and thinking skills.

STEM education in schools is important, of course, but we should also understand that a huge amount of scientific learning occurs outside of the limited school hours.

In a challenging article in American Scientist, US researchers John Falk and Lynn Dierking stated: “The ‘school first’ paradigm is so pervasive that few scientists, educators or policymakers question it. This, despite two important facts: average Americans spend less than 5 per cent of their life in classrooms, and an ever-growing body of evidence demonstrates that most science is learnt outside of school.”

While Australia is not America, the point is well made, and we need to remember that learning is lifelong, and much of the science and technology we learn at school will be increasingly out of date as we grow older.

A 2014 survey by the Australian National University shows that the three major ways that the Australian public engage with science is through: talking with friends and family (82 per cent), visiting a science centre or museum of other science-related place (66 per cent) and listening to a science debate or lecture (42 per cent).

This raises a crucial question as to where we should be putting our efforts if we really want to widely improve public understanding of science, technology and innovation. Australia needs a strong, informal learning sector working alongside school-based education.

Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre, receives almost 430,000 visitors a year to its buildings in Canberra, and reaches out to another 560,000 people through its travelling programs. The most well-known program, the Shell Questacon Science Circus (approaching its 30th anniversary in 2015) visited more than 330 venues last financial year, covering 20,000 kilometres around Australia. And, vitally, prior to the Science Circus visiting these places, many of the residents in these communities had limited access to this kind of science exposure or interaction. Also, through national programs that are Questacon-led, such as National Science Week and Inspiring Australia, another 2 million people are reached.

These are significant numbers in anyone’s view, but another critical question for the dozen or so members of the science centre sector is: what impact are we having?

As science centres evolve,we need to make sure that we are having an effect. We need to know that we are not just measuring delight on the day, and know that the way people engage with us has a catalytic effect on increasing their interest in science, or even prompting them to consider scientific careers.

The International Science Centre Impact Study was commissioned by a consortium of 17 science centres (including Questacon) across 13 countries, and found that for both youth and adults, visiting a science centre significantly correlated with increased science and technology knowledge, as well as interest in science as a school subject.

In particular, the study found that visiting a science centre significantly correlated with increased confidence and curiosity in science as an out-of-school activity. Not surprisingly, the longer, and the more recent a science centre experience was, the stronger the correlations were.

This is not the first study that looked at the affect of informal science learning, but it is the first on this scale.

An earlier study undertaken by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) that is used to benchmark student levels in different countries, showed that a major predictor of high achievement on their test was having participated in out-of-school, free choice learning experiences, such as visits to science centres.

It is known from other research that attitudes to science careers are formed primarily outside of school time in early adolescence; the ages of 12 to 13 are critical for engaging people in science and keeping them, or losing them. Free choice learning experiences are the greatest contributors to adult science knowledge.

As the Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb, has said: “We must align our scientific effort to the national interest; focus on areas of particular importance or need; and do it on a scale that will make a difference to Australia and a changing world.”

Dr Craig Cormick is a science communicator who has worked for CSIRO Education and Questacon. In 2014, he was awarded the Unsung Hero of Science Communication by the Australian Science Communicators.

IMG_2549

Science education Centres are creating Australia’s young innovators

That flash of elation

I’ve written about the worry and heartache associated with crowdfunding; but until now, flashes of elation have only been mentioned in passing. No more, my friends!

Look at the big, green digits on this screenshot taken just now:

Flash of Elation

That’s right, folks, our campaign has passed its halfway mark! Kick up those heels and join me in a happy dance of celebration!

Yes, yes, I know “halfway” isn’t the same as “we’re there!” but still, it is a remarkable achievement, especially since we managed it in less than half the time we have to raise the full amount.

So let’s take a moment to congratulate each other, to say “Well done!” and feel that flash of elation.

We can use this pitstop to energize ourselves for the next two and a half weeks. You see, to keep Discovery open, we need to raise at least $14.5k before the end of July. It’s enough to bring us back to earth, isn’t it?

However, I think the odds are stacked in our favour:

  • I just know there are plenty of people out there who care passionately about Discovery but haven’t pledged money yet. We can ask ourselves: what can I do to persuade them to contribute?
  • We have some wonderful rewards on offer, suitable for people who live in Bendigo and people who live elsewhere. For example, there is just one ticket to the Bendigo Blues and Roots Festival left – I wonder who’ll snap that up? Or tickets to the amazing Science of Chocolate evening!
  • As a reader of this blog, I want to tell you something special: there are new rewards coming soon! Keep your eye on our campaign page. Who knows? You might be the first person to grab something unique!

If you’re looking for other ways to help us #saveDiscovery, click here for ideas. Otherwise, let’s enjoy this flash of elation together, and keep moving forward!

That flash of elation