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?

Guest Post: Punching above your weight

Today’s guest post was written by David Holmes.


I started as the Manager at Discovery at the start of 2013. Prior to getting the job here at Discovery, I had worked in a variety of education roles at Museum Victoria, Melbourne Aquarium, and Melbourne Zoo. The Discovery Centre is tiny in comparison to those organisations, but one thing was immediately clear to me: it sure knows how to punch above its weight. Those involved with Discovery over the years can rightfully be proud of what has been achieved with a very modest budget and minimal staff.

One of the earliest glimpses I had of Discovery’s ability to do a lot with a little came from a conversation I had with one of our workshop staff, Jim McGregor. I had recently seen a travelling science exhibition called ‘Playing With Light’ created by the Scitech science centre in Perth, where my favourite exhibit had been a wall of photoluminescent material that allowed you to ‘freeze’ your shadow when a light opposite flashed. I was delighted to learn that the Discovery Centre had just the same exhibit- ‘Frozen Shadows’, and that it had been built in-house. I asked Jim about it, and he proudly told me that he knew for a fact that the Scitech exhibit would have cost somewhere in the region of $15,000 to build, but that using a combination of donated and secondhand materials, he had built our exhibit for only $400. Sure, our exhibit doesn’t have the same polish as Scitech’s, but the effect is the same, and visitors absolutely love it.

That’s not to say that everything at Discovery is about making do with modest budgets. Another area in which we punch above our weight has been our success with grant money. Thanks to shrewd grant applications, Discovery boasts a professional Planetarium dome, bathroom and kitchen facilities to accommodate school sleepovers, a newly-renovated Lab Workshop, and energy efficient lighting, air conditioning and passive cooling treatments for the building. The list goes on. These all came about with investment from government and philanthropic funds: $1.5 million in successful grant funding over the last 10 years: not bad for a little science centre in Bendigo, eh? It would be a shame to see this investment go to waste.

Finally, if you want bang for your buck then consider the reach that Discovery’s programs have: we only employ the equivalent of 5 full time positions, but we get visits from 10,000 students a year from schools across Victoria (and beyond). We have close to 20,000 public visitors a year on top of this. We develop and deliver Planetarium shows, Science Shows, Lab Workshops, Holiday Programs, Teacher Professional Development, Birthday Parties, Sleepovers and special events. All of this happens through the hard work and dedication of a handful of very passionate staff and volunteers.

If you like the sound of an organisation punching above its weight, then please get behind our crowdfunding campaign, and chip in a donation of whatever size you’d like. Not only do we need the funds right now to keep operating in the short term, but a big contribution from the community would send a very loud message that we value the Discovery Centre, and that it deserves some long-term funding security.


If you would like to contribute a post to this blog, please contact manager@discovery.asn.au

Family holding saveDiscovery sign

Guest Post: Punching above your weight

Guest Blog: Emily Goode

My name is Emily Goode and I am currently Voluntary Explainer at the Discovery Science & Technology Centre. I first started volunteering at the Discovery Centre in 2013, as a VCE student at Bendigo Senior Secondary College. This was when the volunteer-run school holiday activities became a regular part of the Discovery’s program. I am now completing my Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Honours) at Latrobe University Bendigo; I truly believe that without the Discovery Centre giving me the backing and confidence in science and engineering, I would not be on such a male-dominated career path.

When I was approached about writing a post about why Discovery should stay open and how it has personally affected me, my first instinct was to do some research on primary school science. The Discovery Centre plays an important role in exposing children to science, to aspects which they may not get in class. An average child (pre-school to year 6) has 1.1 to 1.8 hours of science per a week1. This is particularly sad as this only makes up 3-6% of the school week – but Discovery fills part of that hole in children’s science education. The Discovery Centre is also important as it has science and lab faculties for students to use to give them a chance to experience scientific lab techniques and perform experiments; only 18% of public primary schools have all or most lab faculties (24% for independent schools)2. For regional students, Discovery is sometimes their only chance to experience hands on learning; these statistics above just show the lack science in the classroom.

Discovery is also a great place for younger people to see a range of sciences and have a gender-neutral experience within science. Discovery’s exhibits cover a large range of different sciences without being marketed at a particular gender; and this gender bias is still largely present – it’s easy to see toys that relate to physics and engineering are marketed at boys. This is important to me as a young woman studying engineering – every child should have the change to try every science without noting gender bias. That is one of reasons why I volunteer at the Centre. I want to encourage and help children regardless of gender to learn about science, just as the staff at Discovery helped me grow into my science-loving self. They gave me and many other girls the encouragement we needed. We discovered that just because we weren’t male didn’t mean we couldn’t do more than just teach it – we could be scientists, engineers, programmers or anything else we wanted.

Discovery inspires children to become innovative and think creatively about tasks. I am a firm believer that people learn best when they have to work out the process for themselves and can play with the exhibits. Discovery is renowned as being very hands-on compared to other science education centres; this is often mentioned to me by visitors in the Centre. This creative interaction with exhibits encourages the next generation of inventors – those people that will make big changes to society, lead to the creation of jobs, and discover more effective ways to complete everyday tasks. Numerous children and teenagers are scared off by the stereotype of science being solely note-taking and hard – something many science classes have sadly become; Discovery, however, shows the fun and excitement in science, and this undoubtedly motivates more children to get into a field which is in need of young people’s minds.

To end this post, I would like to say that the debate about Discovery’s future shouldn’t be about its closure, but how much more funding it should get. Thanks for reading this post and thank you, Discovery, for helping me and so many children to reach our scientific potential.


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

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Guest Blog: Emily Goode

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.

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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

Guest Post: Newton

Today’s guest post comes from Newton, the Discovery centre cat.


Newton

I’m Newton, Supreme Investigator of All Things Scientific (by day) and Mighty Defender of Discovery (by night). If you want to be species-ist, I suppose you might be interested in my feline heritage, but – quite frankly – I find that sort of talk distasteful. I may have fur and a tail, and of course my trademark cheesy grin, but I’m just as curious and inquisitive as the rest of you tailless folk!

A woman called Catie asked me to write a guest post for this blog. I had been going to refuse, but she offered me cream; how could I resist?

Apparently, there’s been some talk of Discovery closing. Obviously, this isn’t going to happen, as no-one has consulted me on the matter.

Still, it got me to thinking: what would a world without Discovery be like? I chatted to my mate the Giant Ant about it.

We felt a little sad, at first, discussing this remote but disturbing possibility. Then we started working through the implications.

For a start, there would be less birthday cake around here. This is Not A Good Thing. (The G.A. agrees with me on this point.) There’d be no more experimenting in the lab, fewer joyous laughs, and none of those breathless “wow!” moments when someone’s mind is blown. Discovery is a place where people can explore the mysteries of the world: there’s something pretty magical about that, isn’t there?

I know that what goes up must come down, but I don’t think it’s time for Discovery to come down yet. This is why I’m so happy that folk are coming together to keep it open, with this crowdfunding thing. (Catie told me to plug it. There, woman, you can stop nagging me now!)

I’m almost out of time (I heard a rumour of cheese in the workshop) but I remembered a few lines from my favourite book, “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr Seuss. If anyone were to consider closing Discovery – and, as I said, my consent has not yet been sought – then perhaps the people of Bendigo might find themselves a little like my favourite character:

so we sat in the house.
we did nothing at all.

so all we could do was to
sit!
   sit!
      sit!
         sit!
and we did not like it.
not one little bit.

As Catie would say, please help us to #saveDiscovery!


The #saveDiscovery crowdfunding campaign passed the halfway point yesterday, which means we’ve already raised over $15,000 of the $30,000 needed by the end of July to keep Discovery open. Great work, team!

Guest Post: Newton

Those big, green digits

I’ve been staring at these big, green digits for the past 24 hours, willing them to click over $15k (the halfway mark), and they’ve stubbornly refused to do so.

Oh, you don’t know which big, green digits I’m referring to? These ones:

Save Discovery big green digits

Yes, I mean those figures in the top right hand corner of the screenshot, that say how much money has been pledged to the campaign so far. They’re on my computer screen. They’re in my dreams. They dance before my eyes. They’re everywhere!

Remember how I mentioned the emotions involved in crowdfunding? Upon reflection, I neglected one very important emotional emotional state: heartache.

I don’t know anyone who’s started a crowdfunding campaign who hasn’t truly, deeply cared about the outcome. I’ve met people who’ve crowdfunded films, alcoholic drinks, non-alcoholic drinks, clothes, social enterprises, events, small business expansion, charitable works, sanitary pads, stationery, and even fashion shows. (For people with intellectual disability, from outback Australia.) What I saw in each of these project creators was a willingness not only to put time and effort into their campaigns, but also to put their heart on the line.

I guess this is how I feel about the #saveDiscovery campaign. I really care about whether Discovery stays open or not! – and I know the $30,000 we’re raising is necessary for that to occur.

I know I’m not the only person who cares passionately about whether Discovery continues to operate or not. If you care, too, there are many things you can do; and one of the most important of those things is to contribute to our campaign.

OK, enough spruiking already! It’s time to get on with my day job. But I’ll just take one more peek at those big, green digits … oh. No movement since last time.

Remind me: why we do this to ourselves? To Save Discovery, of course!

[Editor’s note: If we do get over the $15k mark in the next little while, it will be a huge achievement; we’re only 11 days into a month-long campaign, so to achieve 50% of the target this early would be remarkable!]

Those big, green digits