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PROJECT PROFILE BRIGHT SPARK


CANADA’S TELUS SPARK AIMS TO GET YOUNG PEOPLE EXCITED ABOUT SCIENCE. JULIE BOWEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF CONTENT, EXPLAINS HOW THIS IS BEING ACHIEVED THROUGH INNOVATION AND EXPRESSION


KATHLEEN WHYMAN • MANAGING EDITOR • ATTRACTIONS MANAGEMENT What is Telus Spark?


Telus Spark is a new science centre in the city of Calgary. It opened at the end of October 2011 and is the fi rst purpose- built science centre to have been built in Canada in decades. Our goal is to engage people of all


ages in the exploration of science and the practice of the skills that lead to science innovation and engineering. We want to get kids excited about science and parents to start to unravel the complexities of the issues of the day. For teens it’s a place to come and develop the skills that will be important for the work force of the future.


What was the inspiration?


Through the course of conversations with Calgarians, we discovered that businesses are concerned about the big baby boomer retirement looming – they’re worried they won’t have the skilled workforce to fi ll those roles. There aren’t enough young people going into science and engineering, who understand and are interested in how to innovate and there aren’t enough of the traditional skilled workers to take


roles in the booming oil and gas sector. We needed a place that people can come back to repeatedly and get engaged with their families. Teachers wanted a place that would help them teach science-based curricula in a cool and interactive way. We’ve created a science centre that we believe fulfi ls those roles.


What is the content? There are fi ve exhibit halls.The Creative Kids Museum is for children under eight- years-old. It encourages them to explore, play, experiment and problem solve in a very open environment. We blend art, science, engineering and music in a cool way for that age group. The other four halls look at different


topics. Earth and Sky covers the forces that shape our immediate landscape and our world. The Energy and Innovation gallery focuses on the transformation of energy from one form to another and what results from that. Our Being Human gallery is about our relationships, reactions and connections to others. The fi nal exhibit hall is called Open Studio and aims to engage


“There aren’t enough young people going into science and engineering who are interested in learning how to innovate“


the teen audience and encourage them to think differently from the way they normally do. They explore different aspects of creating, designing, inventing and taking apart. Activities include creating fashion outfi ts using unusual materials and making animations with weird objects. Our spaces are platforms rather than


kiosks. We’ve accommodated for multiple people to be engaging with the objects, so visitors can work with other people. Visitors can do different activities every


time they come. We put out different materials, change the starting points and alternate the things in the spaces. Much of the content is digital, so we change that regularly to highlight what’s going on in the world of science and engineering, discoveries that are made or controversies that exist. We’ve created a space that will be relevant to our community all of the time.


What interactives are there?


In the Creative Kids Museum we have a climbing structure. There are nets, bridges, rope ladders, a spider’s web where they can climb up through tight elastic, spaces for them to hang out or spy on other people, plus places to build things. We recognised that kids like to run


Science centre staff interact with visitors to encourage self-discovery and interpretation 44 Read Attractions Management online attractionsmanagement.com/digital


around when they get excited. This gives them the opportunity to burn off energy, play around and create their own games in


AM 2 2012 ©cybertrek 2012


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