The Scottish Government is offering Scotland’s four science centres an additional £2 million of funding to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
While the four centres have been closed since March, they have used video-based content to engage with school pupils, teachers, families and the wider public. The funds will be used to help the centres install safeguards to protect visitors with a view to re-opening in the autumn.
Collectively, the four centres employ around 400 staff. Before the coronavirus outbreak, the centres were visited by around 700,000 visitors per year and supporting a total of 1.5 million people through outreach and community programmes annually.
The science centres have launched online programmes to teach children about STEM subjects and support families, many of which are having to adapt to homeschooling.
In March, Glasgow Science Centre launched GSCAtHome, offering daily filmed experiments, podcasts, tours and interactive challenges. The centre also launched a children’s magazine, The Spark, in order to support families without access to wifi.
Dundee Science Centre was also involved in a free home-schooling scheme to support parents and carers by providing weekly, themed activities and home science kits to children from struggling families for those without home internet access.
The Aberdeen Science Centre will reopen at its newly refurbished site on Constitution Street after a £4.7 million that started 18 months ago. The centre also has a new website that will go live before the reopening.
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Science Minister, Richard Lochhead, said: “Our science centres are a valuable national asset, and even though they are currently closed to visitors, they have continued to deliver STEM learning opportunities through the creative and innovative use of online learning.”
“From daily online videos and weekly themed home-learning programmes to stay-at-home science and STEM care packages, they have been providing valuable resources to support parents, teachers and young people during the school closures.”
Lochhead added: “Science, technology, engineering and maths impact our everyday lives and this has never been more relevant than in the current global pandemic. The huge contributions of Scotland’s STEM-related research and industry have been highlighted nationally and internationally throughout the Covid-19 crisis.
“This extra money puts our science centres in a stronger position to continue to showcase Scottish research and industry excellence in STEM, inspiring our young people and supporting their learning, while helping Scotland realise its ambitions as a science and innovation nation.”