Welcome to the Big(ger) Little Science Centre
The name remains the same, but the signs could probably be changed to read “Welcome to Big(ger) Little Science Centre.”
The Big Little Science Centre (BLSC) is finally in its new digs — and enjoying all the extra space.
Gord Stewart, the centre’s executive director, said the move into the old George Hilliard elementary building was completed on Sept. 12.
“It’s a step up,” he said of the new space.
“We’re still kind of working on the configuration, but it’s better for sure.”
The BLSC is now housed in seven classrooms, one of which is being used for office space and storage.
Previously, it had been spread out over four classrooms at Bert Edwards elementary.
Stewart said space is the biggest improvement at the new location.
“That’s the big thing,” he said.
“We have more room, so we can present more at the same time.”
Of the six learning classrooms, three are what Stewart calls “hands-on rooms” and three are labs.
The hands-on rooms contain displays and interactive exhibits for attendees to play with, while the labs are set up like traditional classrooms and will be where presenters put on science shows for students.
Two of the labs feature brand new donated desks and chairs.
Now that they are all moved in — Stewart said the process took about three weeks — the main objective is to spread the word about the new location.
“Now it’s just getting out the message that we’re here — no, we didn’t close,” Stewart said.
“The same thing happened when we moved from Westsyde. Everybody thought we’d closed.”
This summer marked the second time in the last five years the BLSC has relocated.
Based out of David Thompson elementary in Westsyde since 2000, the centre moved to Bert Edwards, in North Kamloops, next to the Halston Connector, in 2007.
And, Stewart said, the new location at 985 Holt St. — in Brocklehust, north of Tranquille Road — won’t be permanent, either, if all goes according to plan.
“The hope is we’ll be here until we get our own building done,” he said, estimating that might take about five years.
Stewart said he has received verbal confirmation from School District 73 that the BLSC can have district land for its own building.
“But, every time I get ready to talk to them about it, they look worried,” he said.
Other options include possible partnerships with Thompson Rivers University or the City of Kamloops — but no deals have been made.
For now, Stewart said, he’s happy with the centre’s lease agreement with SD73.
“A lot of our business is [hosting field trips] with the district,” he said, estimating classes are about 70 per cent of BLSC’s total admission.
“But, we don’t actually exchange money.
“We have a lease exchange.”
Stewart said he keeps track of the number of kids and classes coming through the centre.
At the end of the year he will pass a total on to SD73.
A representative amount will then be taken off the BLSC’s lease.
“We’re basically paying the district by charging the kids on paper,” he said.
“Based on last year’s numbers, we should be fine. But, with the strike [teachers’ job action] and us moving, we don’t know.”
In addition to classes and field trips, the BLSC is still open for birthday parties and drop-in visits on Saturdays and after school on Thursdays and Fridays.
Stewart is hoping the new location and increased size will help spread the word about the centre.
“There’s still people in town who don’t know that we exist — that Kamloops has a science centre,” he said.
“It’s always a battle.”