Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium has revealed an ambitious £3.4m project that is designed to transform the Science Centre into a sustainable national beacon for accessibility in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and become the UK’s leading science centre for promoting inclusivity.
Our project is called 1in5,” explained Ben Ward, CEO of Winchester Science Centre. One in five people in the UK have a disability, impairment or illness that significantly impacts their lives, and the lives of their families. That’s 13.3 million people, and like so many others they often get overlooked. In the STEM sector there is much talk about diversity, particularly gender inequality, and we must do more to concentrate on inclusivity and the full spectrum of disability. Disability does not discriminate, it affects people from all backgrounds and by improving access and creating a more inclusive environment – our visionary project will support greater diversity in STEM.
“At Winchester Science Centre we passionately believe that science should be for everyone and through our £3.4m 1in5 project, we’ll lead the way in creating a space where inclusivity is embedded in everything that we do. We want to build a welcoming space for all, with a real commitment to getting it right for people with a disability – so they can engage like never before. By making things better for people with a disability we are making it better for everyone. We will also focus on widening participation, breaking down all the barriers that exist and reaching out to a wider audience to spark curiosity and create opportunities for young people.”
The extensive building work at the heart of the 1in5 project includes a multi-sensory STEM exhibition, a new live science theatre and the UK’s leading accessible planetarium. These major developments are alongside further physical changes that are designed to make Winchester Science Centre totally inclusive such as a new large-capacity lift, a Changing Places facility, an improved acoustic experience, and a disability-confident staff team.
The Arcade is a groundbreaking 400m2 multi-sensory experience that re-imagines traditional science centre exhibits to include acoustics and accessibility that have not been tried before. This sustainable exhibition is designed to be an accessible, safe, welcoming and comfortable environment – where sound, light and physical access enhance experience rather than create barriers.
World-leading researchers from the University of Southampton’s Institute of Sound and Vibration Research are a partner in pioneering the design and delivery of The Arcade, which will explore how sound and vibration affects and improves our everyday lives. This includes how achievements in STEM have improved the lives of millions with a disability, for example with interventions such as the cochlear implant.
The new fully-immersive 200-capacity live science theatre will host exciting STEM shows for school children and families, and become a leading arts, events and conference venue for the South of England. The Geoffrey Lilley Live Science Theatre, named after the late Southampton-based aeronautical scientist and Founder Trustee of Winchester Science Centre, will be an inclusive and accessible space with state-of-the-art acoustics – designed to enable everyone to be engaged in STEM learning.
Winchester Science Centre has the UK’s largest standalone Planetarium, and the upgrades aim to make it a world-leader in accessible planetaria. The new Airbus Planetarium offers an enhanced audio-visual experience that everyone can engage with, irrespective of disability. Changes include innovative content, step-free access to the stage, a hearing loop and special educational needs (SEN) programming, with individual shows that incorporate tactile interpretation.
Winchester Science Centre and Planetarium is the only science and discovery centre in the Central South of England and its one of the largest in the country. It does not receive state funding, and is instead a self-funded, independent educational charity.
To support the 1in5 Project, Winchester Science Centre has launched a capital fundraising campaign and it has reached the final round of consideration in its bid for £2.4m from Wellcome’s Inspiring Science Fund; which supports science centres across the UK and is co-funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
“We’re hugely encouraged to have reached the final stage of the Inspiring Science Fund and have our project so warmly received by our partners and supporters across the South of England. We’ve made a significant step forward in our bid to achieve our vision,” said Ben Ward
“We’re looking for national financial support from both the public and private sector, STEM industry and individuals who believe in Building Science Capital for everyone and cultivating a generation of curious young people, who are able to solve the STEM problems in the future that we cannot foresee. 1in5 needs financial support, but we also welcome donations of time, materials and professional services that will help us achieve our project objectives. We would like to start our building programme in late spring 2019,” added Ben Ward.
For more information about the STEM exhibition visit: 1in5.org.uk