Learning through play – Australia’s only children’s museum launches in Wollongong

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Group of happy smiling kids sitting together and playing - boys and girls black and Caucasian, isolated on white
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The Early Start™ Discovery Space (Discovery Space), launched on Tuesday 19 May, is a purpose-built, hands-on learning through play space that invites children 0-12 and their carers to explore, discover and create together.

Strongly grounded in evidence that play is integral to children’s learning and development, the Discovery Space features custom-designed, ever-evolving, interactive experiences to inspire the imagination and ignite a life-long love of learning.

For example, children can take the helm, load the ship and navigate a journey of discovery around the natural world and beyond on the eight-metre long, five metre-high HMAS Discovery; take a guided tour of the inflatable tummy, becoming a piece of food and travelling down the oesophagus into the stomach and beyond; feel the thrill of being an explorer in unknown territory by entering The Cave, which can transform from a gigantic wombat burrow to a glittering diamond mine.

Early Start Chief Operating Officer Ms Michelle Kellaway said the Discovery Space would be a leader in promoting the benefits of playful learning in Australia. Already there are 30 million people benefiting from visiting children’s museums each year in other countries.

“The Discovery Space is a fun, interactive family experience where parents are encouraged to be directly involved in their children’s learning with dedicated staff on hand to assist families to get the most out of their visit.

“For around the same as the cost of taking your kids to the movies, the Space offers an affordable educational activity for children and accompanying adults to enjoy together.”  

 Early childhood expert and UOW Professor of Early Start Marc de Rosnay said the Discovery Space encourages children to be active in body and mind.

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“Australian children are at high risk of spending too much time sitting and staring at screens. We know that the first five years of life are especially important for child development and the Discovery Space offers a place to both learn through creative play and to learn how to play in new and engaging ways,” the father of three said.

A destination for families and early childhood and school groups, the Discovery Space is operated and supported by the University of Wollongong and has been built with a generous $7 million contribution from the Abbott Foundation.

The Abbott Foundation is passionate about supporting the mental, behavioural and physical well-being and development of young children. 

Mr Christopher Abbott (pictured below), Director of the Abbott Foundation, said: “A particular initiative of the Foundation is the “Discovery Space” where children share Experiences which accelerate their learning process, promote self confidence and improve the capacity to handle new concepts. It follows that the child will be better able to face school and better able to absorb the learning opportunities offered by school.” 

“Another concept behind the Foundation is that prevention is better than cure. Children who have had formative years absorbing the things which make “life tick” are better able to handle to responsibilities of citizenship and parenthood.”

(Source: University of Wollongong)

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Date Created: June 14, 2015