Sensory Box and Visual Guide Created for Aberdeen Science Centre

Aberdeen Science Centre and North-east charity We Too! have created a new sensory box and visual guide to help visitors with additional support needs.

We Too! empowers families of children with disabilities, predominately hidden disabilities and neurodiverse conditions and produces a FREE, quarterly What’s On Guide and Information.

The team at the charity worked with Aberdeen Science Centre to run a relaxed session as part of Aberdeen City Council’s recent Summer of Play sessions, when the volume of exhibits, lighting and general noise levels were adjusted for guests with sensory considerations.

The next quiet session will take place at the centre on Wednesday, October 13. A colourful visual guide has been created to explain what to expect during a visit to the attraction, which reopened last year following a major £6million redevelopment.

We Too! has also donated a sensory box, which includes tools such as ear defenders, fidget toys, sunglasses and a worry sleeve for visitors who need extra support.

Kostas Minas, head of education and learning at Aberdeen Science Centre, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with We Too! to provide useful and practical resources for visitors who may have sensory issues, such as autism, and need a little extra support to get the most out of their day at the centre.

“The refurbishment work at the centre allowed us to invest in new and inclusive facilities to ensure we are fully accessible, such as a Changing Places room, a lift and engaging educational exhibits which can be enjoyed by everyone.

“The relaxed session we hosted in August was a big success and the insight and feedback from the team at We Too! has been extremely valuable. We are looking forward to hosting other similar events over the coming months.”

We Too! was set up by Phionna McInnes, after she became frustrated with the lack of co-ordinated information when looking for activities for her son, who has additional support needs.

As well as producing a free, quarterly “What’s On” Guide, We Too! offers peer support through a monthly children’s club and a school holiday programme, as well as ASN customer training courses.

Phionna said: “We are pleased to be able to support Aberdeen Science Centre and to be working in partnership to organise relaxed sessions, which make events and activities accessible to children and adults who may otherwise find it challenging due to sensory considerations.

“The feedback from the families who attended the session in August was fantastic and the addition of a sensory box and visual guide will add to the experience for children and adults who visit Aberdeen Science Centre.”

Aberdeen Science Centre is one of 15 Science Capital in Practice partners, working with the UK Association for Science and Discovery Centres (ASDC) and the Science Museum Group to deliver initiatives aimed at increasing diversity and inclusion in science.

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

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.

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.

Aberdeen Science Centre’s £4.7million redevelopment was made possible by 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.

The project has secured a further £1.5million from funders and sponsors including OPITO, Shell, Equinor, bp, The Robertson Trust, TAQA and CNOOC International to deliver quality exhibits and programmes to enhance the overall visitor experience at the venue, as well through outreach work.