Thanks to a $1.5 million Lotterywest Grant, the Telethon Kids Discovery Centre is now open for business – filled to the brim with educational games and activities all based on real-life research for the whole community to enjoy.
For budding young scientists, the Telethon Kids Discovery Centre is an escape from reality – a magical realm of medical research, where kids can indulge in interactive games and appreciate the complex science happening right at their doorstep.
With support from leading Australian interactive design company Exhibition Studios, the Centre was constructed with the next generation firmly in mind – using games to immerse kids in science and inspire ideas and reflections about medical research.
From pipette simulations to exploring snot and poo samples through a microscope, gaming content is creatively translated from technical science terms to child-friendly language.
Researchers – including Head, Cancer Immunotherapy Group Dr Jason Waithman – worked closely with the developers to make sure the activities were rooted in science while still resonating with children and families.
Dr Waithman’s work was translated into the three-in-one game Catch and Collect – arguably the Centre’s most popular game.
Using large interactive dual touchscreens, players of Catch and Collect are required to strengthen and protect white blood cells by fighting off and destroying the bad and unwelcomed cells –emulating the critical work of the Cancer Immunotherapy Group.
“Tapping into Dad and dork mode – the development process was really enjoyable,” Dr Waithman said.
Discovery Centre Manger Cristin Taylor said there had also been a substantial requirement to deliver child-friendly learning outcomes that did not compromise the reality of childhood diseases.
“We sought feedback from our Telethon Kids community members about how to best represent the content,” Mrs Taylor said. “We didn’t want to undermine serious childhood illnesses, and consultations with the community helped us to deliver that happy medium.
“Now, thanks to a lot of hard work by Exhibition Studios, our researchers and professional services staff, the Discovery Centre is a place where kids can learn and have fun – which for many is a welcome distraction from what is going on in their personal lives.”
- With a successful pilot program commencing in late 2019, the Discovery Centre + Schools Program will aim to develop educational school visits catering for primary-aged students in Years 3-6.
- Telethon Kids is also building on the success of the Discovery Centre by taking the science games, events and activities out into the hospital and community through the new Discovery Centre Outreach Program.
A safe haven for regular hospital visitors
Located within Perth Children’s Hospital, the Discovery Centre is making trips to the hospital much more enjoyable for patients, especially for mum Alianna Celisano and her three boys.
Louis, Michele and Nicolas Celisano each have compromised immune systems and are regular visitors to the hospital.
“Before the Discovery Centre, it was hard to find an incentive for the boys to come – now it’s a struggle to get them to leave," Alianna said.
Left: Louis, Michele and Nicolas play their favourite game, Catch and Collect