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: 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

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

Guest Post: Brandon Hocking

Today, Save Discovery is proud to bring you the first of our guest blog posts. Enjoy!


Brandon holding a #saveDiscovery sign

Hi my name is Brandon.  I’m 14 years of age and I’m in year 8 at Bendigo South East College. Last year I was part of a project at Discovery to learn about maths.  We made a show called “Dimensional” that looked at geometry. We learned about shapes and angles and other geometry.  It was really fun and interesting doing all the activities to make the show, and then I got to be part of the show and come on stage and illustrate some stuff about angles.

We did the show to help kids learn about shapes and angles in an interesting way. Because it’s fun and interesting they don’t even realise they’re learning stuff.  I think it was really fun for the audience, but it was just as much fun for me and my friends to be part of the show. I felt happy and proud that I could do that [be part of the show].  My cousin came along, and my aunty, and my Mum and Dad and they all really liked it.

It helped me get into Bendigo and help out and volunteer.  After that project I came and volunteered at Discovery during the school holidays.  One of the activities was making marble runs: you had to try and make a marble run down a wall using pieces that join up and fit together to make a path. My job was to help visitors have a go of the marble runs.  At first people were really shy but then you’d start and they would really get into it and enjoy it and they stayed for an hour or so.

Through being part of Dimensional and volunteering at Discovery I can understand how Discovery can motivate kids to learn about science and technology and how things work.  There’s lots of things at Discovery like this, and since I have been at the Discovery Centre I have learnt heaps of stuff too, not just about maths, but about electricity and how electricity flows and things like that.

My mum was saying we don’t have many things in Bendigo like this, so I hope that Discovery is saved so that younger kids can come and learn about science and technology.  There’s lots of exhibits around the centre.  I like the racing car exhibit.  I like the vertical slide, even though I’ve never been on it!  It’s different to a normal slide – it’s massive and it drops straight down.  All the kids love it.

I hope that the Discovery stays open for the next generation of kids.


Do you have a Discovery story to share? Email manager@discovery.asn.au

Guest Post: Brandon Hocking

Science centres: They’re important

If you look at Save Discovery’s Instagram account, you’ll see a spreading sea of smiling faces. Discovery is obviously a place which gives people joy, and that may be reason enough to preserve it; however, I believe there are other, equally important motivators.

We’re living during a time when the state of science education in Australia is being debated (again). Experts discuss whether science needs to be marketed better to high school students, and talk about science needing an “image overhaul” so kids in year 10 choose science subjects in years 11 and 12.

All this is good, and important: Australia needs to be producing smart, innovative scientists to continue our legacy of invention and to ensure we’re abreast of technological changes as they occur. However, have you noticed how the strategies discussed are all school based?

Schools have a clear and important role to play in helping Australia stay the clever country, but in my opinion the work needs to be broader: schools and community institutions, classrooms and theatres, teachers and entertainers, commentators, comedians, hairdressers, carpenters…!

Bendigo has a precious resource in Discovery. Let’s not let it slip away.

What can I do? 

If you could like to take an active part in the campaign to #saveDiscovery, please consider:

  • Support our crowd funding campaign!  There are great rewards/perks available like family memberships (if you’re not already a member!), private Vertical Slide sessions or even a liquid nitrogen birthday party!
  • Buy a membership – all money raised through membership will go to the new management of Discovery.  You can pledge to buy a membership on the crowdfunding site OR you can buy one right now by visiting Discovery.
  • Get involved with social media!

You can also follow this blog, and share posts.

Coming tomorrow:

A special guest post by a young Bendigo resident!

Family holding saveDiscovery sign

Science centres: They’re important