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A great fun learning centre.

Summary: Walking into a spacious, brightly lit exhibition hall of Sharjah Discovery Centre, young children can discover, learn through play, explore the world around them, and understand that science and technology are part of their daily lives.

Walking into a spacious, brightly lit exhibition hall of Sharjah Discovery Centre, young children can discover, learn through play, explore the world around them, and understand that science and technology are part of their daily lives.

Amal Khalifa Al Hadari, Sharjah Discovery Centre's curator, says that the centre is a hands-on interactive experience organised by themed areas and is geared towards a more specific age group of 3 to 12.

Opened on March 18, 1999 as one of the only two 'hands-on' interactive children's museums in the UAE, the centre's themed areas include Water World, Airport, Body Zone, Sports, Build Town, and Drive Town. Specific exhibits such as the Supermarket and TV Studio complete the exhibition hall.

With the themed areas packed full with 'hands-on activities' and plenty of fun, the excited kids enter a colourful arena exploring the dynamics of water, the five senses, the art of travel and the mechanisms of building, how to become a star on TV, climb the wall and shop till they drop in the children's supermarket.

Al Hadari said this children's centre is a great day's outing for the whole family filled with action and entertainment. "It is for all families to come and enjoy the interaction with the displays, helping develop children's imagination, motor skills, and discover in a fun way the principles of science, maths and technology through interactive exhibits and programmes," she says.

The centre's main goal is to give children the opportunity to discover, learn and have fun through many interesting, scientific, practical, educational and interactive workshops and to spend their free time (vacation) in a useful way and to improve their skills and learn new things.

Among such interesting workshops and programmes is the Summer Camp for all children from seven to 12 years. In summer 2011, the Sharjah Discovery Centre held its ninth summer camp, as it started in the year 2001.

"Our Summer Camp for last year was different, as we grouped the workshops, a topic for each week. Children liked the workshops a lot and they enjoyed their time. The most important thing for us as a museum is to make the child's visit special and unique as they learn through discovery. We are in the planning phase to expand the current building and include more interactive facilities and new displays within the next five years. Also, we will devise and provide new school shows and programmes for students," Al Hadari says. In this familiar world, the children feel comfortable as they freely explore, discover, play and learn about themselves and the world around them.

The inspiration behind the setting up of the centre came from His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, who believes firmly that for any child's positive self-development, creative learning environments should be available to explore and expand their awareness about life, science and technology.

lily@khaleejtimes.com

THEMED AREAS

Water World

In this world, the children will immediately see the ramp, which leads them to an imaginary harbour with boats. The children can go to the Boating Pond and practise sailing toy boats. They can learn how jellyfish move through water by observing the plastic models in the bubble tank. At the Pipe Fountain exhibit, they can use sections of plastic pipe to test how pipe diameter and height affect the water pressure. Using their discoveries, they can build their own fountain. If water puts them into a more relaxed mood, they can take a seat in the Rocking Boat and enjoy the gentle swaying caused by the exhibit's pneumatics.

Kids' international airport

When the children arrive to this area, they must not forget to check their luggage, before passing through the X- ray scanner and entering the airfield. Plastic wings and imagination will transform the children into airplanes. They will take off from Sharjah Kids' Airport to visit some of the world's famous monuments including the Cairo Tower in Egypt, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and Big Ben in London. The slide- landing is always an exciting end to the trip. The landing crew, teacher, mother or father make sure that the landing is safely completed.

Body world

Body world presents the children with many opportunities to understand and test how their bodies work. At the pedalling skeleton, the child sits on a bicycle and pedals for two, himself and the skeleton. He feels how his leg and foot move while he sees the bones in the skeleton's legs and feet go through the identical action. Children can use other exhibits to test their strength, reaction time, peripheral vision and more.

Build Town

For the children, who like construction, this is the place to visit. They can use large hand-crack cranes, trolleys, conveyors and chutes to move the construction material around the Construction Site. Large foam blocks of different shapes including arch beams and windows allow them to use their knowledge about balance and proportion to construct a building.

Drive Town

Road Safety is the focus of the short programme that begins the experience. After learning the rules of the road, the children can get into the electric cars and drive through the Sharjah Road System, completed with traffic lights and roundabouts.

Sports world

Here, the children can Shoot and Score by kicking a football into a score zone marked on a wall. They can also test how high they can jump by reaching for a basketball that can be raised and lowered. They will quickly learn how to position the centre of the mass of their bodies to help as they climb up and along the Climbing Wall. They can try scoring a goal while using sport wheel chairs to get around.

Sky TV

The children in this area learn about several TV studio jobs. Additional to that, special programmes can be held by school students.

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Publication:Khaleej Times (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Feb 3, 2012
Words:1031
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