Bendigo Science & Technology Museum Inc
Discovery Science & Technology Centre (Discovery) opened in October 1995 in the historic rail yards goods shed in central Bendigo. It was the first Australian science centre not located in a major city. Attendance has doubled over the past seven years and is on track to exceed 30,000 in 2012.
Discovery’s mission is to ‘inspire scientific curiosity’. The Centre has a main floor featuring over 100 exhibits, as well as ‘Kaleidoscope’ – a zone for young children; Bendigo Planetarium; The Lab; and an auditorium. Education programs are offered in-centre and in-school, including professional development for teachers.
‘The Lab at Discovery’ project, supported by Gandel Foundation
The Discovery Science & Technology Centre is one of only three Australian science centres with an on-site laboratory/classroom. Around 3,000 rural and regional primary school students will go through the Lab in 2012-13, and the facility was built with that audience in mind.
Opened in 2008, the Lab is an excellent facility for primary school students. It offers students a rare and enjoyable opportunity to put on a lab coat and immerse themselves in science. Lab workshop topics currently include acid and base reactions, sound, water filtration, and the phases of matter.
Gandel Foundation funding is making it possible for Discovery to undertake significant improvements to the Lab itself. Importantly, this will include purchasing additional equipment that will expand the scope of Lab programs into the middle schooling years. At this level, most rural and regional schools do not have laboratory facilities of their own. Building improvements such as a degree of climate control and an even, flat floor are also planned.
“The Lab is an important asset, as few schools and school children in our region would have an opportunity to really experience hands-on science.”
Lisa Gormley, Manager, Discovery Science & Technology Centre, Bendigo.
The refurbishment and updating of the Lab will enable Discovery to expand its programs and make current programs more comfortable, viable and efficient. As well as providing a pleasing and accessible space in which to conduct science lessons, Discovery plans to broaden the range of lessons on offer to meet the needs of schools. It is anticipated that this will encourage more schools to take up Discovery programs.
Discovery also plans to become a working model of energy efficiency for other businesses. It aims to showcase new technologies by reducing the Lab’s own carbon footprint and educate others about retrofitting and energy efficiency.