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. 

 

Advertisements
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

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?

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

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