UNE Discovery

The UNE Discovery Program is an approach to outreach, engagement and education of whole communities within which the University of New England (UNE) is embedded, and reaching outward to visitors in our region.

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.

UNE Discovery consists of three initiatives…

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 Boilerhouse

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 Boilerhouse will be:

• UNE Discovery Headquarters
• Children’s Discovery Space
• Educational gift shop + café

Interest to know more about the space? Click here.

Discovery Voyager

Discovery Voyager is the mobile platform for delivering innovative educational and outreach experiences to school-aged students and communities in northern New South Wales. 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.

• Mobile schools discovery program
• Play-based philosophy
• Innovative curriculum aligned activities
• Skilled and passionate facilitators

Click here to view the Voyager website and find out more.

Natural History Museum

he UNE Natural History Museum is a library of life; a place of activity, interaction and discovery. It serves as a reminder that there is no surrogate for real things. The most sophisticated computer graphics cannot replace the sense of wonder that comes with viewing the still remains of real animals, in all their extraordinary variety.

• Zoology, botany and geology collections
• Australia’s only mega-raptor skeleton “Lightning Claw”
• Group education programs
• Guided tours available

Click here to view the Natural History Museum website and learn more.

Our UNE Discovery Philosophy

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.