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Childrens Science Discovery Center Education Essay

1.0 INTRODUCTION

Basically, the meaning of Science is "Knowledge" which can be gained from facts, laws, immediate causes, observations, experiments, investigations and researches. Science is a subject we are familiar with from our small days.

Today Science is of interest to everyone. Everything is based on Science and there is a scientific explanation to any question. People are awed fascinated at once by the knowledge thus gained and this in turn increases their quest for scientific knowledge.

However, although many have awareness of science, not many have the ability to apply the knowledge gained.

The reason for this is due to “cramming” knowledge into a child’s brain without teaching him to apply the knowledge.

Listed below are some points which simply say why Science is important,

science saves lives - terrible diseases can be controlled, cured, or prevented entirely,

science keeps people connected through the development of telecommunication

science can prevent extinctions

science can make us understand our environment and help logical thinking

science encourages questioning and looking at things in different ways.

science provides a sound base for reasoning often produces better results when making important decisions based on science instead of superstition or demagoguery or hatred or fear, etc. [1]

The scientific method can be applied equally successfully in the study of the various sciences like physics, astronomy, tech development, etc. as well as for daily activities.

2.0 PREPOSITION AND JUSTIFICATION

2.1 CURRENT STATUS OF SCIENCE EDUCATION IN SRI LANKA

The G.C.E. 0/L results of the past few years in Sri Lanka shows a high failure rate.

Statistics show that in 2009. approximately 47% of the students did not qualify to do their A/Ls. Also relevant is the fact that only 45% of the candidates were able to get through Science while only 51% of the candidates passed Mathematics. [2]

In 2006 more than 51% of the students failed the O/L exam and 57% of the of 259,263 students who sat the Mathematics paper and 52% of 258,948 who sat the Science paper. [3]

failed the examination

And also when going through the report Progress and Recent Trends- November 2011 which was published by the Education Department, only 22.5% out of 435,727 studied in the Science Stream for G.C.E. A/L 2010. [4]

The trend of doing Scientific Research is very low in the country and laboratory and quality infrastructure facilities are not freely available as can be seen from the facts listed below.

Sri Lanka does not have any high level research facility either in the universities or in research institutes.

Insufficient funds for getting research equipment, maintaining and repairing.

Most of the Research & Development establishments in Sri Lanka are devoted to agriculture, social sciences & humanities and applied sciences .

Out of the 57 laboratory and workshop research facilities – 30 are located outside the University system.

Less than 11% of research facilities are devoted to industry oriented research - only 3 University Faculties and 5 State Research Institutes in this area.

48 University faculties that engage in Research and Development are spread across all 9 Provinces. Of those more than 75% are 25 yrs or older and 11 other institutes are more than 50 yrs.

More than 50% of the Research and Development institutes are in the Western Province while 13 institutes are in the Central Province.

16 of the 31 State research institutes are dedicated to Agricultural Research and Development while only 5 are dedicated to Industrial Research and Development and 2 for Health research.

78 hard sciences related faculties with 425 departments with Science laboratories in 16 State Universities.

Out of 9000 schools only 678 schools have the facilities to teach science.

Absence of an efficient, quick, reliable equipment acquirement, maintenance and repair services for science equipments. [5]

Therefore the need for a science and discovery centre to be established in Sri Lanka to develop the Science knowledge of the people, especially the students, is justified.

2.2 STRATEGIES TO IMPROVE THE STATUS OF SCIENCE EDUCATION IN SRI LANKA

When researching about the current situation of the Science education sector in Sri Lanka, the Government has already given a thought about current situation of Science education in Sri Lanka. And they were able to come up with some ideas regarding this. Such as,

start a network of science parks

start a TV channel that is dedicated to Science and Technology like Discovery.

improve science communication.

improve skills and capabilities in the provide incentives for science journalism and communication.

Establish a web enabled Scientific Information Database.

strengthen and upgrade "National Science and Technology Library and Resource Centre (NSTLRC) at NSF.

Out of these mentioned points they have specially given the attention to the start of network of science parks throughout the country. Like one in each province. The main National Science Centre is going to be established in Colombo. [5]

2.3 WHAT IS THE PROJECT?

The above mentioned facts show the need for a Science Center . A place for where children can learn science with pleasure. This means that there's going to be so much fun entertainment within the Science Centre.

This place will be filled with lot of activities, exhibits, lab work, live science shows and workshops etc. All these things will be based on the hands-on and minds-on philosophy. The Center will also have mobile exhibitions which will be taken to schools in rural areas to conduct workshops. Everything in the Centre as well as in the Mobile exhibits will be demonstrated in the three main languages; Sinhala, Tamil and English.

As one enters the building one will begin to experience Science. It's similar to entering a laboratory where busy scientists working on researches or new inventions can be seen. Everything they are doing will be doing it for real. Some workshops will be carried out where they create the exhibits itself. When creating a new exhibit, public opinion will be sought in order to develop a more user friendly product. DO NOT TOUCH signs will be absent at this center and the children can touch and feel the exhibit. Usually children like to touch things see how it works and feel it and enjoy it. This will be applied to certain objects in order to reduce the damage. All the exhibits will be renewed by considering the suggestions and comments from the visitors.

The following are the departments that I am going to work within this Science Centre:

Wonders of Nature.

Materials.

Earth, Climate and Natural Disasters.

Amazing things of the Body.

ABC of Science.

Space and Astronomy.

Electronics and Robotics.

Communication.

IMAX.

New Inventions.

Everyday Science.

Transport.

The exhibits will be placed in sequence so that the spectators can understand the subject properly. At the end of the walk through the whole exhibition area will be lighten up so if they have any doubts they can go through them again. This walk through will be specially conduct for the students who come in school field trips

In laboratories well trained staff will carry out the experiments to relevant to some fields corresponding to the exhibition areas. There will be assigned experiments carried out according to a weekly time table. A school or a group of students could request experiments apart from these. A specific time will be allocated and the other citizens for them and that special event will also be notify through their print and digital media so that people who are interest in that also can join. There will be around 10-15 staff members and each will be handling about 10 students. The experiments will be carrying out as groups of two and they will be supplying the necessary materials and equipments for them.

Approximately they will be expecting 1,000 visitors to this Science Centre per day and this might get increase when it comes to school vacations. There will be about 100 staff members to give the best and quality service to the visitors. This includes the executive staff and the minor staff. The executive will be as follows.

Chief Executive.

Director- Projects and Exhibitions.

Director- Education Programmes.

Director of Operations.

Director of Research and Web Outreach.

Director of Finance and Administration & HR.

Manager Exhibitions.

Manager Physical Sciences.

Manager Life Sciences.

Associate Director of Development.

Manager Finance.

Manager Public Relations

2.3.1 What does a Science Centre do?

Science centres link people with science. It gives science, a presence in the community and in the suggested people without any age limit and backgrounds giving the opportunity to ask questions, to talk about, and to discover. Active exhibits, demonstrations, workshops, debates are among the day to day activities here. [6]

In science centres, people can feel and experience things so when they come across these concepts in other settings, they’ll be familiar with them. That’s why schools depend on science centres for unforgettable field trips and auditorium programs, hands-on curriculum, etc.

Science centres encourage curiosity. Exhibits that are good-looking or shocking can encourage visitors to approach new phenomena and ideas. For some people, their visit to science centres had encouraged them to start their journey of experimenting science. [7]

2.3.2 Influence of Science and Discovery Centres

According to the research that had been done by ECSITE-UK- European Network of Science Centers

And Museums- they were able to show by using significant evidences that there is an influence of

Science and Discovery Centres on the citizens of a country.

Through those noteworthy evidences they were able to show that:

Interactive science exhibitions enhance visitors’ knowledge and perspective of science.

Science & Discovery Centres provide memorable learning experiences which can have a long-term impact on attitudes and performance.

Science & Discovery Centres have wide-ranging personal and social impacts and promote inter-generational learning.

Science & Discovery Centres persuade the trust and understanding between the public and the scientific community.

There is also an influence to the economy of the country through Science and Discovery Centres. [8]

When going through the above mentioned information you will understand that this Science Centre will help not only to increase the Science Knowledge but it helps to keep the citizens together, peacefully and it will be a place where people can get to know each other and make new relationships in an indirect way. It will impact on health, sports, etc. sectors in an indirect way.

2.3.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE CHILDREN’S SCIENCE CENTRE

The vision of the Children Science and Discovery Centre would be to contribute to the creation of a culture based on knowledge that includes science and technology into everyday lives, products and services, within Sri Lanka.

The Children Science Centre together with the National Science Foundation would be responsible for the popularization of Science and Technology among the school children.

This should popularize the beauty and the fascination in science and modern technology among the younger generation in order to attract them into science disciplines.

It would also be a national centre for informal science and technology education.

The Centre would attempt to become a symbol for peace, friendship and harmony through creativity, exploration, knowledge creation and education, with a long term dedication to improving the quality of lives of the people of Sri Lanka. [5]

This will reduce the knowledge gap between Sri Lanka and developed countries.

This create an incentive to poor students through the Children’s Science Centre.

This will give a hand to inventors and innovative people

2.4 FUNDING FOR THE PROJECT

The funding for this project will be mainly from the Ministry of Technology and Research and also the funds will be raised and also from the public.

When collecting funds from public it will help to spread the news of this new project and the public will be aware about this and will tend to give their ideas regarding this which might be useful.

When considering the Vision- "Sri Lanka becomes a scientifically and technologically advanced country of the region by the year 2020" and Mission-"To formulate and implement policies pertaining to the popularization and advancement of science and technology, including scientific research and development and transfer of technologies, to ensure improved quality and productivity so as to upgrade economic activities, which are essential for the economic and social development of Sri Lanka" [9] of the Ministry of Technology and Research, this project will be helping them in achieving it with a great success.

When going through the actual capital and recurrent expenditure of the Ministry in 2010 only 75% of the allocated amount was being used.

3.0 SITE

3.1 SITE SELECTION CRITERIA

When selecting the site the attention was drawn to the following:

the site should be expandable.

it should be within the town.

Access to transportation.

the number of people who travel through that area.

educational centres around it.

other public places around the site.

3.2 THE SITE AND ITS SURROUNDING

Considering all these facts the Railway workshop Maradana seemed the ideal site.

Maradana, Colombo 10, begins at the De Soyza Circus Round-about, and stretches north of Colombo 7 along with Ward Place to Dematagoda, on its west and ends at Grandpass. The northern direction of Maradana Road stretches towards St. Sebastian Hill in Hultsdorf whereas its southern direction ends at the Borella junction.

The Maradana Railway Station is a fundamental element of the transport method into and out of the town. It is one of the two main focal points within the Colombo city.

Since Maradana town is very close to the business town of Pettah, Hultsdorf and Grandpass there is a big impact of business within the town so there are a lot of people who are passing by.

Within and around the Maradana town are you will be able to find the schools such as;

St Josephs College

Mahabodi Vidyalaya

Nalanda College

Ananda College

Dharmadutasrama Vidyalaya

Srimath Baron Jayatilleke Vidyalaya

Gothami Balika Vidyalaya

Wesley College

Bishop's College

All Saints College

Ashoka Vidyalaya

St. Thomas Preparatory School

Buddhist Ladies College

Al- Hijra School

3.3 Distances from the Site to the important places

Departments

Department of Chemistry, University of Colombo- 7.4 km- 13 min.

Department of Physics, University of Colombo- 7.4 km- 13 min.

Department of Inland Revenue- 2.5 km- 5 min.

Crime Investigation Department- 5.8 km- 13 min.

Agriculture Department- 6.2 km- 14 min.

Department of Zoology- 7.3 km- 13 min.

Archaeological Department- 3.5 km- 11 min.

4.0 PRECEDENCE

4.1 EXAMPLE 1- THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY- LEONARDO da VINCI- MILAN

"The National Museum of Science and Technology -"Leonardo da Vinci", a museum which dedicated to a great artist and scientist is an interesting Science Center. The Museum is located in an Olivetan Monastery which was built at the beginning of the 16th century. On 15th February 1953, to mark the fifth centenary of Leonardo’s birth, the National Museum of Science and Technology "Leonardo da Vinci" in Milan was officially put in place with a major exhibition committed to the great man. It is the Italy's largest science museum with 40,000 m2 of area where 23,000m2 is exhibition space and contains 10,000 exhibits.

This Museum comprise seven departments with every department equipped with its own interactive labs. Out of these seven departments six are having exhibition areas. The seven departments are as follows.

Materials

Transport

Energy

Communication

Leonardo Art and Science

New Frontiers

Science for Young People

Apart from these things educational activities and workshops are available for the schools during the week and for the general public in the weekends. These activities are based on an informal and interactive approach.

Within the museum, da Vinci’s designs seem to come alive Except from these things what you can see when you walking around this museum is that the designs that da Vinci had done have been come to alive. This has been done so that visitors can experience what Leonardo da Vinci have created through his imagination.

Apart from research and conservation, their next main objective is to better educational background within the centre. For that they have created the space with an accessible to all experience, discovery understanding and inspiration. Because of this all their exhibits and activities are related to this concept. Their workshops are differ for schools, universities and other institutions related to science, since they are in different levels of science knowledge. This will be helping the visitors to use the Museum as a educational centre as well.

When considering the relation between the proposed project and this Museum except for the historical section most of other things, like their third main objective, "education", some activities related to that are have a kind of similarity for mine. Even though Education is their third main objective in this case it is becoming the first major objective in the prorect. [11]

4.2 EXAMPLE 2- THE EXPLORATORIUM- SAN FRANCISCO- CALIFORNIA

The Exploratorium is a museum of science, art, and human awareness. They believe that having fun is playing a major role within the centre for people of all ages. They have lot of hands-on exhibits in the museum. Almost all of them are explore for yourself exhibits. Even when you go through their web site you can find that their web site has difference according to who you are. There are over 25,000 pages of content;; film screenings; workshops for lifelong learners including day camps for kids and family investigations; evening art and science events for adults—plus much more.

It was the first museum to include artists in its exhibit-development process, the first museum to be established as a centre for teacher professional development, and the first self-regulating museum to have a website. Today, it’s the epicentre of world science centres, creating programs, exhibits, and experiences that reach millions of visitors around the world.

They have given opportunity for all the people to learn and experience science. They know that the way the children look at things and the way elders look at things are different. Sometime the children operate those will differ from that of the way the elders operate things.

All the exhibits in the museum are done by the museum's own staff of scientists, artists, thinkers, or by artists and collaborators who visits there. And also this museum is a good place for teachers to experiment things to teach children and also make things to show the children as well. As I have mentioned above their web site also contains some other web sites of theirs' which will help the people in the world to experience the museum. They created games, video and so much more to increase the awareness of science throughout the world.

Even though the project is focused mainly on Children this is something that it will be. A museum where children can touch and feel exhibits and a place where whole family enjoy the day together. [12]

5.0 DEMOGRAPHY

5.1 ABOUT THE DEMOGRAPHY

The target demography for this project is School Children from Grade 4 up to A/Ls. (age: 9 yrs- 19yrs). Which is Late Childhood to Adolescence.

During the Late Childhood, the intelligence is performed through logical and systematic planning of symbols which are related to the concrete objects and also they operational thinking power develops as well. They learn to make things, use tools and acquire the skills as well..

When it comes to Adolescence, at this time of period they unconsciously explore questions. They must explore test limits, become independent and commit to an individuality. their intelligence is performed

As you can understand from the above mentioned facts , the learning speed of children during these periods of life is at a higher level. So if we can teach the children what we want to teach in an interactive, interesting, enjoyable way they can learn them fast and that knowledge will be last long. Because, even though we learn things when we become older that won't keep in our mind for that long.

5.2 OTHER USERS

As the secondary and tertiary user it will be the teachers, parents, scientists, artists, inventors etc. Apart from that designer might also be in the tertiary group because designer can get lot of ideas about materials as well about different designs. They might be able to come up with new concepts. When it comes to teachers, they can learn how to teach children in an interactive way as well they will be able to update their knowledge via the science centre. They might also do experiments or invent exhibits to show the children at school. They might also get assistance from the staff of the science centre. When it comes to parents, they learn how to teach things for children when it comes to science and also that might be helping them by applying them at day today activities as well. Inventors and scientist can update their knowledge, share their knowledge, do researches as well.

6.0 CONCLUSION

Science means Knowledge. We gain Knowledge through everything we hear, see and feel. Practical Knowledge is important in the study of science. It is also a limitless subject. New theories, inventions and formulae are constantly developing. Being updated is thus very important.

Scientific knowledge has contributed immensely in all areas that affect our daily lives from keeping us healthy to leisure and so many areas in between.

Science is also a magical subject. One can create an imagined fantasy today due to advancements in the various fields of science

In Sri Lanka schools lack the facilities to teach the practical aspects of Science properly as a result students are compelled to study science from books rather than experience it practically. This makes students feel that science is not enjoyable. This reflects in the statistics of O level examination results cited above where the percentage of failures in Science is more.

7.0 INITIAL CONCEPT

The Science Center will contribute towards popularizing the subject. It will be a place where children can have fun and enjoy their visit. It will also be an educational and “fun” place for adults as well as children. At the end it'll be a museum but a museum in a different perspective. Where you can touch the exhibits and experience it. That will create a good memory and it will reminds when it comes to application of it. This place will be a space which create a long lasting memories not only for children and adults who visit this place. It will also have facilities for research to be made use by teachers, scientists, researchers, inventors etc.

As it is mentioned earlier this place will be a fun and enjoyable but also it'll be more interactive space where children can easily get used to that place and be familiar with the with it. For children it'll be a place where they can learn magic and for adults it'll be space to learn about lot of things which are very valuable to their lives.

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