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

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

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

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