UNE Discovery aims to enhance childhood development during the years of greatest change and learning in a human’s life; the years where children benefit from variety in their daily life, and where unrestricted opportunities for play offer powerful neurological gains. Through transformative and exploratory experiences in science, art, music, languages and movement, we want to make the early years count, encouraging parents, carers and families to join the ride.
Our vision is to create spaces for childhood growth and a love of learning; where curiosity, confidence, creativity, collaboration and a can-do attitude is fostered from an early age; spaces where global citizens are made. Ultimately, we hope that with regular encounters with UNE Discovery initiatives we can enable children to do better at primary and secondary schools and to give the University a better prepared echelon of undergraduate in the future. Moreover, we hope to encourage leadership and innovation, acknowledging that without these traits no society can flourish. We recognise that it is through respectful relationships with individuals, organisations and communities that UNE Discovery can positively affect health, longevity and quality of a successful life.
The Boilerhouse and Discovery Voyager program (which is already active) and Natural History Museum. They will become an iconic part of a regional Australian childhood in northern NSW, and attract families in our local, regional and travelling communities to UNE campus, to engage with research, education and events across schools and departments.
The model of engaging parents and children in exploratory and unrestricted imaginative play is typified by discovery centres and museums in the USA, of which there are hundreds. Programs that demand direct interaction, hands-on play, tinkering and inventing entice millions of families each year to connect with their inner life-long learner.
The key is that experiences within these spaces are doing activities rather than looking activities. Underpinned by a substantial body of research, our philosophy highlights the importance of play and opportunities for novel experiences in children’s lives, supported by their parents and carers. The key difference between parent-led educational play models and the Boilerhouse Discovery Space and the Voyager Mobile Discovery models is that it is educators that support the learning through exploration rather than the parents. We acknowledge that children spend significant amounts of time in care, preschool and schools in NSW, and we seek to elevate the importance of the relationship between educator and child.