Sudbury MPP Glenn Thibeault channeled his inner Luke Skywalker on May the 4th as he announced $1 million in funding support for the THINK project, a major renewal of visitor experiences on level 4 of Science North and at six Northern Ontario THINK hubs on behalf of the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC).
Decked out in a full Luke Skywalker costumer complete with lightsabre, Thibeault was joined by Han Solo (Science North board chair Scott Lund) Chewbacca (Science North CEO Guy Labine) and Princess Leia (Science North science director Julie Moskalyk).
The THINK project will allow visitors of all ages to engage with new exhibits, programs and experiences that will allow them to Tinker, Hack, Innovate, Network and Know.
This initiative is the first major project undertaken by Science North as part of their recently revealed Strategic Plan for 2018-2023, which focuses on bringing new, exciting and innovative science experiences not just to the science centres in Sudbury but across all of Northern Ontario.
“This new NOHFC investment shows that Science North recognises the need to grow and innovate in order to remain North Ontario’s most popular tourist destination. The addition of the THINK project will give visitors a chance to learn about science in an interactive hands-on setting, while driving tourism and creating new jobs in Sudbury," said Thibeault.
"Establishing six Northern Ontario THINK hubs means that Science North can expand its outreach programs and bring the fun 'bluecoat' way of learning to communities that would have been missed, if it were not for the NOHFC investment."
The THINK project at Science North and the THINK Hubs across Northern Ontario will become a platform to expand the reach and depth of engagement with audiences of all ages and backgrounds in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields. THINK will also create inclusive spaces for groups underrepresented in computer science and engineering fields, such as women and Indigenous people, to work with shared tools and workspaces.
The benefits of this project will be felt across Northern Ontario by creating jobs, driving tourism, sustaining small businesses and creating new businesses.
“The transformation of Level 4 of the science centre provides new and returning visitors with fresh and relevant exhibits and experiences, and supports the ongoing growth and sustainability of Science North,” said Scott Lund, Chair of the Science North Board of Trustees.
“The benefits of the project extend to Northern Ontario through job creation and tourism impact. We are very grateful for NOHFC’s support of this initiative.”
The development of the THINK project has involved collaboration between Science North and Northern Ontario communities, post-secondary institutions and businesses engaged in innovation STEM related fields, programming, digital fabrication, coding, crafting, electronics and even science visualizations.
“One of the key components of THINK is the collaboration between Science North and six other locations in the North," said Science North CEO Guy Labine.
"We have had successful partnerships on similar projects such as the Northern Nature Trading experience, and are looking forward to installing THINK Hubs in Kenora, Thunder Bay, Fort Frances, Sault Ste. Marie, North Bay and Timmins, and in turn contribute to the ongoing growth and sustainability of those locations, while generating increased economic activity in each of the respective communities."