UNE Discovery: Lifelong learning and engagement opportunities

A School of Education seminar presented on March 14th, 2018 by Kirsti Abbott

UNE Discovery is a VC-sponsored outreach & engagement initiative of UNE triggered by the approach in 2016 by a philanthropist whose values in giving are child-centred, and who has also supported the University of Wollongong’s Early Start Discovery Space.  The program consists of three main parts, all governed by a philosophy that emphasises the importance of early childhood development in the pursuit and love of learning throughout life. In operation is the Discovery Voyager, a mobile program that takes hands on activities in STEAM out to school students from Kindergarten to Year 10 in northern NSW; the Boilerhouse Discovery Space is in fundraising and planning mode, with remediation of the Boilerhouse building starting early April; and the Collections project aims to provide tangible ways to engage with objects, material and specimens from UNE collections that have traditionally been used for students and researchers only.

Through the Boilerhouse Discovery Space, we hope 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 self-directed 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. There are also countless opportunities for research and engagement with families of our region. With Voyager, we extend this approach to early learning up to high school, and guide students through concepts and content that are related to, but extend topics, skills and understandings in the Australian school curricula. Our facilitators are scientists, science communicators and educators focussed on engaging language, quickly developing a rapport with students, and encouraging eureka moments through self-directed exploration.

In 2018 we would like to forge closer ties with the School of Education and work with you to explore possibilities for placement students, professional development and more robust ties with your programs and courses.  Today Kirsti Abbott will introduce you to the Discovery concept and approach, recount our activities to date, and suggest some plans for the future of Discovery.