The Malta Council for Science and Technology (MCST) is pleased to announce its Esplora 2020 calendar of events. Under the new direction of the Parliamentary Secretary for Financial Services and Digital Economy Clayton Bartolo, through the executive chairmanship of Dr Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando. This year’s programme of events comprises of new public engagement with Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).
Clayton Bartolo said that “Malta’s ongoing economic prosperity and competitiveness are bound jointly to the development of public engagement with STEM and the sustainable generation of future scientists, tech experts, engineers, and mathematics from among our young people.”
Public engagement with STEM refers to the involvement of specialists listening to, developing their understanding of, and interacting with non-specialists in the field. Such public engagement is crucial for employability, personal growth, and active citizenship. Considering this, Esplora has a responsibility to become the hub where public engagement happens and has started organising science cafes with topical subjects such as Let’s talk Coronavirus which took place this month and a Health Cafe on HIV in May.
The Executive Chairman of the Malta Council for Science and Technology, Dr Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando, announced that Esplora was chosen as the winner of the Most Nominated Visitor Attractions Category at the 2019 Star Awards by the Malta Tourism Authority. He said that Esplora aims to carry on building on its excellent visitor experience, and he thanked the Esplora team as well as Esplora’s repeat visitors. He emphasised that 20% of Esplora visitors come to Esplora between 6 to 10 times in a year. “This year’s wider programme will surely help to keep on strengthening Esplora’s visitor numbers and will be offering a wider choice for the individual or family enjoyment.”
Clayton Cutajar, Senior Executive (Head of Science Communication & Audience Development) also addressed the event and said that Esplora is a non-formal learning centre focusing on 21st-century transferrable skills. He added that the primary objective of the science centre is to create a culture of scientific curiosity and creativity. The Esplora 2020 calendar of events aims to address this throughout all sections of the population.
This year’s calendar of events started with a National STEM Career Expo, which hosted over 25 entities including private companies, government bodies, research performing institutions, and NGOs. It also showcased a broad range of STEM occupations and has allowed children and their families to meet professionals from a wide variety of STEM fields, whilst engaging with them via short, interactive and hands-on activities. Such events help in attracting more students to choose STEM subjects.
This year, in particular, we have launched a theme for every month, starting from the coming three months were March will be dedicated to the Science of the Human Body, April to Space and May to Climate Change respectively. As from next week, Esplora will offer a science show entitled Me My Body and I as well as Inside the Teenage Mind. Visitors will also have the opportunity to follow demonstrations delivered at the Human Body section at the main exhibition halls. A planetarium film ‘Cell Cell Cell’ will also be shown in line with the theme.
This year, Esplora will be increasing its events at night and visitors will have the opportunity to see the historical building by night. The first event to kick-off will be a Paranormal Trail to be held on March 13 and in summer an Esplora by Night, a fantastic opportunity where visitors will be able to enjoy the fantastic views and the outdoors.
Esplora is a place for all ages whereby we have one week solely dedicated to coding for the younger generation and to attract the older age groups, and Active Ageing Week which is held in collaboration with the Active Ageing Unit allows Day Centre members to have a fun-filled morning at Esplora whereby they can engage with people working with NGOs, the University of Malta, Lifelong Learning, Wasteserv, and mental health professionals.
Esplora is proud to be engaged in a continuous effort to provide an accessible and inclusive environment to all its visitors. Not all disabilities can be seen. Some hidden disabilities, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Dementia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or Bipolar Disease, can present a challenge to those who would like to enjoy a visit to the science centre. In this regard, Esplora has actively modified its operations and given training to its staff to provide a better experience to people with hidden disabilities and will continue offering its monthly autism-friendly hours.
The popular homegrown thematic events such as Kuluri Karnival, Journey to Space, Halloween at Esplora and Christmas at Esplora have kept their place. Euromedia forum very well known for their Science Fiction events, will this year be taking the Esplora audience through Time Travel in October.
The event ended with a Teaser of STEM Interactive Stations delivered by Esplora Science Communicators and the showcasing of Fabulous Fibonacci from TOI TOI the well-favoured education programme for the younger audience from Teatru Manoel. The performance uses comical theatre to explore topics such as mathematics, which are generally perceived as complex. The exploration of the basic elements of music and numbers, looking at how music is constructed which has an uncanny connection to the Fibonacci series.