Why Glasgow Science Centre is taking the fun outdoors, by Stephen Breslin
The signs are looking positive for science engagement in Scotland. The most recent polls on public engagement with science tell us that 84% agree that we should all take an interest in science and 72% agree it’s important to know about it in their daily lives.
At Glasgow Science Centre we have a vision for a Scotland where even more people will come to value science and technology while recognising it has the ability to empower and enrich their lives.
Our mission is to inspire people of all ages to explore and understand the world around them, to discover, enjoy science and understand its relevance to their own lives.
However, those same polls also reveal that ‘people still do not know much about how scientists work’. It therefore highlights the important role that organisations such as ours must play as science and technology increasingly permeates every aspect of our lives.
Over the last few years, visitors have come to Glasgow Science Centre in record numbers. Our adult audience has grown significantly, we have engaged with diverse community groups from across Glasgow, and throughout Scotland, and we have tried to make our offer more inclusive with Autism Friendly Sundays and Deaf Science Clubs.
But we have to do more. There are still large sections of society who still think ‘science is not for people like us’. Science is for everyone. It can empower and enrich each and every one of us and any section of society that feels excluded from science, for whatever reason, is at risk of being marginalized and unable to access the many opportunities that science and technology creates.
That’s one reason why Glasgow Science Centre is about to embark on a £4.2m programme of change, that aims to break down the barriers, real and perceived, to engaging with science. It’s the biggest transformation to take place in our 19 year old history.
The project will include the development of the physical assets of Glasgow Science Centre, more science-based cultural events and an extended Community Learning and Development programme. We will be transforming the outdoor spaces around Pacific Quay to create learning spaces, filled with exciting hands-on exhibits, seating and sculptures along the Clyde side.
Our aim is to take the fun of Glasgow Science Centre outdoors and build a free-to-access outdoor space for play, discovery and social interaction. On the inside we will be introducing new exhibits, a community learning hub on the ground floor and the introduction of a Changing Places toilet. We will also be spending more time out in local communities to develop an understanding of their needs.
This is an ambitious project and we will measure its success not through the physical developments to our site, but by our ability to sustain, expand, extend and diversify our audiences and reach.
We want Glasgow Science Centre to be for all of Scotland and for our audience to reflect the richness and diversity of the great communities that we aim to serve.
The Scottish Government’s STEM strategy makes it clear that the country must increase the proportion of young people who say they feel studying science, technology and engineering is important for them and for their future careers. We still have some way to go, but our ambitious plans will be a major step forward.
To find out more about connect visit: https://www.glasgowsciencecentre.org/support-us/connect
Come have a look at our plans and have your say in our project lab: https://www.glasgowsciencecentre.org/discover/our-experiences/project-lab
*This article first appeared in the Evening Times.