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Techniquest Glyndŵr responds to Welsh Government funding cuts


January 15 2016

A science discovery centre with close links to Glyndŵr University will “become a centre of excellence for science and technology education” despite Welsh Government funding cuts.

Iwan Thomas, Chair of the Board of Trustees to the charitable company North Wales Science, which operates Techniquest Glyndŵr, said a significant review of how the science centre will be funded in future had been completed.

The Welsh Government announced on January 13 that Techniquest, which has bases at Glyndŵr University and in Cardiff, was to have its £1.3m grant from the Welsh government cut by 22% from April.

Iwan Thomas, Chair of the Board of Trustees to the charitable company North Wales Science that operates Techniquest Glyndŵr, said:

Mr Thomas said: “The reductions in funding from Welsh Government have prompted a significant review of how Techniquest Glyndŵr operates, forcing us to look long and hard at our strengths and weaknesses and identify the range of opportunities to develop the business into a more sustainable model without high levels of public finance.

“I was present for the recent event at Techniquest Glyndŵr to celebrate the launch of UK Astronaut Tim Peake to the International Space Station and it showed to me what a worthwhile and valuable organisation it is with its significant strengths.

“There were over 120 schoolchildren at the event who witnessed the excitement of the launch and they were then treated to an engaging live science show about the space mission and the science behind it.

“It was clear to me that the children there were fully engaged with the topic and I’m sure that more than a few will be inspired to follow a career in science or engineering as a result.

“That for me sums up what the organisation is about and we will be working hard over the next few months and years to make sure that not only will the organisation survive but it will become a centre of excellence for the region in STEM education.”

            A multi-pronged approach has been adopted to take advantage of both Techniquest Glyndŵr’s proximity to higher population areas in England and its close connections with Glyndŵr University.

Currently there are over 80,000 engagements with school students, family visitors and community events each year, but it is hoped to substantially increase this figure to generate the additional income to support the business.

An intensive programme of marketing has recently been launched to target primary and secondary schools located across North Wales, as well as in Cheshire, Wirral, Shropshire and Merseyside, highlighting opportunities to take advantage of the comprehensive programme of school or centre visits on offer.

These cover all aspects of the STEM curriculum (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and include use of a portable planetarium to introduce astronomy to schools right across the region.

The centre’s location on the Glyndŵr University campus means that there are good links with a range of science and engineering departments.

A popular aspect of the secondary school programme have been science workshops offered by Techniquest Glyndŵr followed by tours around relevant departments of the university.

These help to give students a realistic introduction to higher education and to make use of the sophisticated facilities and equipment that are available at the University.

As a visitor attraction, the centre is well placed to be part of the destination Wrexham Tourism partnership which is promoting the area as a diverse and interesting tourist destination, offering visitors to the area an excellent value day out for families.

Locals are encouraged to the centre through a programme of live science shows, special events such as Astronomy Club, Techzone (a computer programming club) and specialist Toddler Days.

Scot Owen, Education Manager at Techniquest Glyndŵr, said: “Whilst the reductions in funding over the next few years are disappointing and are going to make it more difficult for us in the short term, through the cooperation and ideas of our enthusiastic and committed team we have focussed on a variety of ways to make our business financially sustainable in the long term without ongoing core funding from the Welsh Government.

“We are already working hard to strengthen our existing good links with local industry and there are plenty of opportunities for us to develop beneficial partnerships with the private sector to support our mission to enthuse and educate people of all ages in science and engineering.

“Our aim is to become a well-respected and financially strong social enterprise that not only is able to deliver an extensive educational programme to schools at primary and secondary level in the region, but also attracts significant numbers of visitors to the area because of the exciting offer we have to families wanting a good value and educational day out.

Techniquest Glyndŵr is particularly keen to work with local companies who have aspects of their activity related to science, technology or engineering to help make the science of the classroom come alive by linking real life situations which demonstrate various scientific principles.

Links can be through sponsorship of outreach visits to schools, the offer of on-site visits to industrial operations or collaboration in the development of additional interactive exhibits to augment the 75 or more examples currently at the centre.

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