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Science centre reaches for the stars at official reopening ceremony

By Alan Beresford

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IT was time to reach for the stars when the Astronomer Royal for Scotland, Professor Catherine Heymans, officially opened Aberdeen Science Centre (ASC) following its £6 million redevelopment.

(From left) Sandy Morton, chair of the board of trustees at Aberdeen Science Centre, Professor Catherine Heymans, Astronomer Royal for Scotland and Bryan Snelling, chief executive of Aberdeen Science Centre.
(From left) Sandy Morton, chair of the board of trustees at Aberdeen Science Centre, Professor Catherine Heymans, Astronomer Royal for Scotland and Bryan Snelling, chief executive of Aberdeen Science Centre.

ASC reopened to the public last November after the major project to create an aspirational science centre which reflects the STEM priorities for both industry and education.

More than 60 new interactive exhibits over two floors now await visitors, including RoboThespian, a chatty humanoid robot sponsored by the centre’s Digital Futures Partner, Equinor, and The Opito Theatre of Energy – the UK’s first immersive experience of its kind.

Around 100 invited guests attended the event and Professor Heymans unveiled a commemorative plaque to mark the centre’s transformation.

An astrophysicist from the University of Edinburgh and a world-leading expert on the physics of the dark universe, Professor Heymans became the first woman to be named Astronomer Royal for Scotland earlier this year.

Accepting the almost 200-year-old honorary title, she said she wanted to use it to encourage people to develop passion for science and promote Scotland internationally as a world-leading centre for science.

“It was a great honour to join Aberdeen Science Centre in celebration of its reopening,” said Professor Heymans.

“A fantastic visitor attraction with outstanding interactive hands-on exhibits, Aberdeen Science Centre provides the perfect place for curious young minds to have fun exploring the wonderful world of science and technology.”

The centre’s exhibits are aimed at all ages and are themed into six zones: Energy; Space; Life Sciences; Make It, Test It; and a dedicated area for the under-6s, as well as the Shell Learning Zone, where science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are brought to life.

They support ASC’s commitment to inspire a lifelong interest in science, by creating engaging experiences which are fun, informative and educational.

Natural light floods into the building thanks to an exposed roof structure, creating an airy and modern interior, with flexible corporate meeting spaces and a café operated by Grub.

The centre recently received its first accolade since reopening, the Travellers’ Choice Award from the world’s largest travel platform, Tripadvisor.

Bryan Snelling, chief executive of Aberdeen Science Centre, commented: “We were delighted to be welcome Professor Heymans and our invited special guests to mark the official opening of Aberdeen Science Centre following its fantastic redevelopment.

“Although we have had a challenging first year amid the Covid-19 pandemic, which also delayed our celebratory event, we are now open seven days a week and have welcomed thousands of visitors through the doors, as well as school groups and corporate guests.

“This is a celebration of all the work that has gone into redeveloping the centre to transform it into a modern visitor attraction which showcases STEM innovations through educational and fun exhibits and events.”

Aberdeen Science Centre’s £4.7 million redevelopment was made possible by generous support and funding from the Inspiring Science Fund – a partnership between the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Wellcome - with additional funding provided by Opportunity North East (ONE) and Aberdeen City Council.

For more information and to book a visit, visit www.aberdeensciencecentre.org

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