(National, The (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Masdar City expects 200,000 visitors a year to its complex and planetarium, aimed at supporting science and engaging the public
ABU DHABI // A giant Slinky, erupting geysers and hot-air balloons … all will keep pupils and teachers enthralled when science takes to the Big Stage.
Throw in a planetarium, 200 interactive exhibits and a water play area, and it is going to be hard to keep the next generations of UAE scientists away from the Abu Dhabi Science Centre.
The centre, due to open in 2016 in Masdar City, was launched yesterday by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, and the Abu Dhabi Technology Development Committee (TDC).
The TDC has been working on the concept since 2010, with some help from the world's first such science centre, The Exploratorium in San Francisco.
"Our main objective is to support the development of science and technology within Abu Dhabi, serving our economic aspirations of developing a knowledge-based economy," said Ahmed Al Calily, director general of the TDC.
"But also on the societal front, it's important to engage society with science and technology because that will also help with the development of society at large."
The two-storey centre, covering 6,500 square metres, is expected to draw more than 200,000 visitors a year to its seven permanent galleries. Building is due to begin this year in Masdar City.
It is one of five TDC initiatives to promote science, technology and innovation.
Others include the Abu Dhabi Science Festival, the Liwa Science School Outreach Programme, the Innovator event and the Takamul programme, meant to assist inventors in developing their ideas into products.
"What we saw from that over the last couple of years is a tremendous demand and need for science education activities for families, schools and teachers here in Abu Dhabi," said Dr Linda Silver, associate director of content, science and technology at the TDC.
"So the Abu Dhabi Science Centre is going to be a permanent location where we will have more than 200 hands-on exhibitions, seven different themed science galleries, and it will open at the end of 2016, inshallah."
Its modern appearance features star patterns on the facade and designs of early navigation developed in the region.
Walking on to the futuristic campus, visitors will first experience the outdoor science exhibits and a water play area on the main plaza.
"It will be a full experience," said Dr Silver. "We are going to have outdoor exhibitions, so large-scale exhibitions like water play, things that reflect the sun and play with the wind.
"The whole idea is to activate the building so, as kids are walking in, they get a sense of what's inside the science centre and it starts your experience before you even enter."
At the welcome hall, guests will be able to access the galleries and attend daily science shows on the Big Science Stage. The hall will also offer access to classrooms and a teacher learning centre.
"This area will also feature four large-scale exhibitions, so erupting geysers, hot-air balloons, a giant Slinky and a giant rolling ball wall will be here as well," Dr Silver said.
The Land, Sea and Sky Gallery will feature 25 exhibits in one of four zones: landscape, seascapes, skyscapes and the explainer centre.
The Natural Resources Gallery will be sponsored by Adnoc and teach visitors the origins of oil and gas, their chemical properties and the engineering involved in extracting and using natural resources.
Children will learn about astronomy, the sun and solar system while interacting with 22 exhibits in the Universe Gallery and Planetarium, sponsored by Mubadala. The planetarium will seat 75 guests.
"We'll also be able to do live shows in here, so we'll be able to talk seasonally about what's in the sky that night," Dr Silver said.
"We're really excited about that because, of course, it evokes the history of the region as well, and the contributions that were made to astronomy and the space sciences."
The Making Gallery, sponsored by the ICT Fund, has four learning zones: electricity and magnetism; engineering and design; patterns; and making a studio workshop.
"It's really a DYI kind of tinkering space," Dr Silver said.
The Science In Motion Gallery will teach children about mechanics, aerodynamics and building, while the Sensing Your World Gallery has vision and light, hearing and sound, and human body zones.
"By inspiring our nation's youth in science, technology, engineering and math through a number of enriching experiences, the ADSC will contribute to the emirate's efforts to create learning and professional opportunities for people of the UAE," said Khaldoon Al Mubarak, vice chairman of the TDC and managing director of Mubadala.
"It will also inspire home-grown talent to play a major part in the diverse range of exciting high-tech industries that are taking shape in our country."
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