The overarching goal of our science popularisation initiative is to be the advocate for a society that recognises and embraces the fact that Science & Technology impacts upon and is a part of their everyday existence, and is empowered by this knowledge to effect improvements in their quality of life.
The NIHERST National Science Centre (NSC) aims to advance the levels of scientific and technological literacy in both the children and adults of Trinidad & Tobago and the wider Caribbean, by presenting knowledge and experiences of Science and Technology in their most palatable forms. In so doing, we hope to support the formal science curriculum with our own informal brand of learning and in the process stimulate our young people to pursue careers in these fields.
NSC uses a variety of media and tools to achieve these goals. They include educational workshops and seminars for students, teachers and the general public, science and technology competitions, vacation science camps for children, travelling exhibitions, the NIHERST Children's Science Magazine, Sci-TechKnoFest, and a hands-on science exhibition housed at the Centre.
From Travelling Exhibition to Science Centre
In 1990, the Science & Technology Popularisation System (SATPOS) launched YAPOLLO (an Amerindian word meaning to "discover"). This travelling group of exhibits, (manufactured by workshop staff of the John Donaldson Technical Institute and NIHERST), found phenomenal success wherever it went. Whether at malls, auditoriums or outdoor activities, YAPOLLO was sure to attract attention of visitors both young and old. It was this ability to engender in persons this sense of discovery and accomplishment through the manipulation of exciting exhibits that enhanced YAPOLLO's general appeal. Visitors were encouraged to observe, to think, and to investigate, all in an environment of fun and excitement. In essence, science through informal methods made the subject all the more appealing and in the process has been revolutionising science education in Trinidad & Tobago.
Since the establishment of the National Science Centre in 1997 with the support of the NGC, there has been tremendous growth in the type of programmes offered. This speaks volumes of the centre's commitment to making science and technology a part of Trinidad & Tobago's culture. In addition to our flagship YAPOLLO interactive exhibits, the staff have been hard at work developing many exciting science workshops, competitions and various Sci-TechKnoFest, Community Science Weeks, Science Whizz and the Caribbean Youth Science Forum have all played an integral role in stimulating and engrossing the minds of students and the general populace.
Even today, YAPOLLO continues to travel, participating in activities such as Emancipation Day Celebrations, the annual KidsFest hosted by KIND (Kids in Need of Direction) and many others upon request. The exhibition has also made its way to some of the other Caribbean countries including Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Guyana, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the British Virgin Islands.
In 2001, the first step towards acquiring a permanent home for the Science Centre was put into motion by way of a feasibility study. Though land acquisition has been a constraint to the realisation of the permanent science centre, tremendous growth and development have taken place over the years. As a result the current centre has expanded to 60,000 square feet and now has nearly 200 interactive exhibits on themes such as Animation, Energy, the Environment, Disaster Awareness, the Human Body, Sports and Wellness, Creativity and Innovation, Physical Disabilities, and Robotics. And indeed, we are on our way to bigger and better things.