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Science engagement techniques have come a long way in the past thirty years and have been in part driven by key institutions that are open to the public.
One of these is Science Space, part of the University of Wollongong (UOW) and located on the University’s Innovation Campus.
This year, the Space reaches its thirtieth birthday, and hosted a large-scale experiment on its lawns on Saturday, July 27, and Sunday, July 28.
According to a statement released by UOW, the facility has become a beacon for the local community, and a treasured site for those that come through it.
In 2019, the Space aims to host 18,000 school students, and reach 58,000 attendances by the end of the year, its highest number ever.
“The children leave Science Space thinking science is just the coolest thing ever,” said Science Space director Stuart Creal.
Within the facility is NSW’s most advanced digital planetarium, and the theatre has undergone a recent redevelopment to host more science theatre shows.
With science and technology surrounding modern children with the ubiquitous presence of computing devices, the Space aims to break these things down and allow children to understand the concepts behind each device.
“We go for retro exhibits. Children today are so used to iPads and iPhones, they come in here and they have to physically move a handle to see something happen, it’s a different experience,” said Creal.
While Wollongong is known for its port, coal mining history, and large industrial manufacturers such as Bluescope Steel, those at the Space want the regional city’s manufacturing base to broaden to also include a wider range of businesses.
“We have a lot of industry in the region that has been heavily reliant on coal, we want to support small and medium enterprises into diversification or new manufacturing processes,” said Creal.
The Space hopes to do this through the building of a community-accessible maker space, funded by UOW and the NSW government. Funding is yet to be committed, but Creal is hopeful of the potential.
“Anyone in the region will be able to take out a maker space membership and gain access to the technology,” said Creal.