Hundreds of children among first to enjoy science fun at new Discovery Planet shop in Ramsgate

Science fun with Discovery Planet Photo Pete Bateson

Children from schools including Bromstone, Christchurch, Palm Bay and Newington, Laleham Gap, St Anthony’s and St Ethelbert’s have enjoyed science workshops at the new Ramsgate High Street base of Discovery Planet.

The science ‘shop’ has opened last week with a vibrant new façade to liven up the streetscape. It attracted more than just admiring looks too with more than 450 local school children and members of the wider community taking part in workshops about light. The sessions were hosted by members of the Applied Optics Research Group at the University of Kent.

Photo Pete Bateson

After finding out how to bend light and see round corners by building a periscope, the participants left with beaming smiles and a glow all of their own.

Discovery Planet Director Nikki Hildesley, says the ‘shop’ is not only about providing educational and enriching experiences, adding: “We chose a town centre location in order to remove some of the barriers people experience to attending activities like these.

Photo Pete Bateson

“It’s not only free of charge, but they can weave the activity into their everyday lives without having to travel far away or feeling shy about coming in. It’s also about bringing an empty commercial space back into productive use, livening up the town centre and bringing increased footfall to adjacent shops and services. We want to have a wider positive impact on our town.”

The school sessions were funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council.

Bromstone youngsters

A spokesperson for Bromstone Primary in Broadstairs said: “Children in year 4 enjoyed the opportunity to explore the world of science at Discovery Planet. The classes were given clear instructions and resources to make periscopes. They went on to learn how light travels in straight lines and bounce off mirrors so that they could see through a periscope.

“All the children were engrossed, enthused and happy to be part of Discovery Planet. Children were extremely excited to be given lasers and they went onto see if they could experiment with how light could bounce around in different directions.

“During the session, the children were given additional challenges to move the laser in various directions. All the staff at Discovery Planet were helpful, kind, and enthusiastic and inspired the children to become potential scientists of the future.

“At Bromstone the whole school is exploring the concept of “Growth” in relation to British Science Week. We are sure that the children who attended this trip will be able to carry on acting like a scientist in class, making careful observations and looking at the world with curiosity, to discover new things.”

Photo Pete Bateson

The opening coincided with the start of British Science Week 2022, a ten-day celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths, which runs until March 20.

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The day also provided an opportunity for local people to volunteer. Nikki said: “One volunteer gave up her day to help with the workshops because she loves science communication; and a sixth former, wanting to study physics, was able to notch up some valuable experience to support her university application. We are really grateful to them for their help and hope they enjoyed the day too.”

Photo Pete Bateson

There will be more volunteering opportunities available in the future.

Over time a full programme of activities will be delivered from the shop, but for now the next workshop dates to be aware of are the 21-23 of April, looking at materials for energy storage; 19- 21 of May observing space with telescopes; 16-18 of June exploring meteorites; and 7-9 of July examining how science can help us explore heritage.

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Twitter: @ScienceSpaceCr8