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) 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 Boilerhouse Discovery Space, created from a repurposed part of UNE history, and helping children from birth and their families connect and learn through play. In these new spaces we will offer playful, research-led stimuli at critical early times in children’s lives, when their brain is at its most malleable and an environment of play can cultivate experiences that improve life trajectories and create connected global citizens.
The model of engaging parents and children in exploratory and unrestricted imaginative play is typified by discovery centres and museums in the US, 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 doingactivities rather than lookingactivities. 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 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.
Discovery Voyager, our mobile platform for delivering innovative educational and outreach experiences to school-aged students and communities in northern New South Wales; encounters that can spark change, and that would otherwise be absent from many children’s lives in rural, regional and remote Australia. A visit from the Voyager team engages K-10 students in facilitated learning activities across the spectrum of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) topics, tailored to the ages and needs of the children and the individual school’s curriculum priorities. The Voyager program enhances the University’s ability to showcase its research, facilities and collections to a larger and more diverse population of students and teachers, and improve the connectivity between the University and communities within which it is embedded.