The Tánaiste, Mary Harney TD, has unveiled plans for Ireland’s first interactive learning centre for children and young adults.
Exploration Station will be a purpose-built interactive learning centre to provide children and young adults with a hands-on learning and discovery experience. While the emphasis will be on the physical sciences it will also make connections with other aspects of learning and discovery and encourage learning by doing and experimentation.
Exploration Station, which is scheduled to open in 2006, will be sited in a custom-built premises to be located in the new Office of Public Works (OPW) Heuston Gate Development in Kilmainham in Dublin. The centre will be designed and run by the Irish Children’s Museum Ltd, a not-for-profit company set up to develop a world-class interactive facility.
“Exploration Station will give visitors a hands-on experience and understanding of the wonders of science and other fields of creativity as never before … It is a unique initiative which has the potential to do more for the promotion and teaching of science than anything else previously undertaken in Ireland,” the Tánaiste said.
She added: “Everything we do and everything we are is founded in science. Exploration Station will set out to show how science is fundamental to our everyday lives.
“This initiative is another clear indication of the continuing commitment of this Government to promoting science and technology and to the development of a knowledge based society. I am confident that Exploration Station will become a major catalyst for innovation and creativity among current and future generations,” she said.
The project has been agreed between the Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment, the Irish Children’s Museum and the Office of Public Works. As part of the development of publicly owned lands a custom-designed 500,000 square foot building will be provided for the new museum, which will occupy the new building under licence to develop this unique interactive learning experience with a predominant focus on science. It will be responsible for the cost of fitting out and running the new centre.
Exploration Station has close links to the famous Boston Children’s Museum and will draw on recognised international expertise in the field to develop a unique world-class facility.
Dr Lou Casagrande, president of the Boston museum will sit on the Board of the new Irish equivalent. Other board members include Dr Rudy Burger, former CEO of Media Lab Europe and Dr Ian Hughes, former head of the science and technology dept at Dun Laoghaire, School of Science & Technology.
The chairman of the board, Michael M Collins, SC, said: “Exploration Station will ignite children’s imagination and thirst for understanding and by its unique mix of science, culture and the arts encourage the development of lateral and creative thinking.”
By Brian Skelly