Bahrain to open $2.64m science centre
Manama, March 28, 2012
Bahrain’s Ministry of Human Rights and Social Development will open the BD1 million ($2.64 million) interactive Bahrain Science Centre (BSC) later this summer.
It is housed in a three-storey building covering 2,500 sq m land area, and is attractively painted in the colours and design of the science centre’s logo (red, orange, green and blue) and is situated at a small distance from the main educational area in Isa Town.
The ministry has appointed MTE Studios, global experts in science centre and museums operations and management, to run BSC for two years.
The BSC has three exhibition galleries on the ground floor: the ‘Discovery Room’ for young engineers (3-12 year olds), and the ‘Keeping Kids Healthy’ and ‘Test your Skills’ galleries for eight year olds and above, as well as the café and reference library.
On the first floor, there are three interactive exhibits on earth sciences, an ‘Our Dynamic Earth’ gallery, auditorium and science show laboratory, ‘Biodiversity’ gallery, biology laboratory and earth sciences laboratory.
The centre also has a large ‘Travelling Exhibition Hall’ on the second floor where currently a collection of 36 animal skeletons, skulls and bones are housed. There are also arrangements on the roof for making astronomy observations at night. In total, the BSC has 50 interactive exhibits. Displays for the centre have been acquired from Hüttinger, Germany.
Speaking to TradeArabia, Professor Mike Bruton, CEO of BSC, said: “One of the reasons why people don’t have interest in science is because it so badly taught in schools and is, therefore, perceived to be difficult. And so the first thing we would want to achieve is to make people realise that science is much easier than they thought.”
Secondly, he said teachers’ workshops will be conducted where they will be given instructions to improve their skills in teaching science, to do more hands on experiments in the classroom, and also to equip the classroom with equipment that allow them to do that. Thirdly, he said the BSC aimed at increasing enthusiasm in children about science.
“So it’s not much about teaching them facts but changing their attitude towards science and technology,” said Prof Bruton.
He said the overall mission of the BSC is to contribute to the social development programmes of the Ministry of Human Rights and Social Development and thereby to strength the science and technology culture of Bahrain by engaging young people and their families in activities that excite their interest in science, technology and engineering.”
Prof Bruton said the BSC differed slightly from most science centres in that it had an impressive collection of 36 skeletons, skulls and bones from different kinds of fishes, reptiles, birds and mammals that are found in the Arab world.
Amal Mubarak Al Buflasa, chief of nursery and childhood development department, said there was a thirst of knowing science amongst children but at the same time science was not being taught or understood as it should be.
“I know many parents will bring their children so that it can help them in school. But once they do, they will see that science is everyday life. This is going to change they viewpoint about science for sure, which will in turn persuade them to encourage their children to be involved in science and take up further studies in science subjects.”
She said the centre will work closely with the Ministry of Education and conduct teacher workshops to give them training and ideas on how to teach science subjects in an interactive way so it evinces interest in students and not bore them.
Al Buflasa said there was previously a science centre in Umm Alhassam, but it closed down. “The Bahrain Science Centre is, therefore, the only science centre in Bahrain.”
A teacher from Ibn Khuldoon, who was leading a group of students, said the BSC was really interesting and a good opportunity for children to learn more about science in an interactive way. She said it was a good initiative from the government.
Zooj Janahi, a student from the school was excited about her visit to the centre and said she had learned many new things like how the heart beats and about height.
The BSC will remain open mostly throughout the week and entrance is free except for special events and excursions. A small fee will be charged for private school group visits.
“It will target school groups in the mornings during school terms, and families in the afternoons, on weekends and during school holidays. The age group targeted will be three years and above. Bahrainis as well as visiting holidaymakers and weekenders, especially from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, will also be targeted,” said Shereen Shabnam, business development director, MTE Studios.
BSC will also offer science shows, talks, debates, demonstrations, dissections, workshops and star gazing. In future, the BSC is likely to offer interschool competitions, excursions to places of scientific interest, camping trips and many other exciting activities.
The centre will have an all-Bahraini staff with Prof Bruton being the only expat and will include people from various backgrounds such as education, information and technical specialists, but with strong interest in science.
There are over 2,500 interactive science centres in more than 90 countries worldwide and they receive over 310 million visitors per year. – TradeArabia News Service