With an updated plan that includes a theatre with 3-D technology, proponents of an ocean learning centre are seeking support from the school district and other groups.
Nanaimo Deep Discovery Association, a non-profit, has visions of a facility similar to Science World in Vancouver, but where people can learn about oceans. Tim Tessier and Bill Nadeau, association vice-president and director, respectively, made a presentation May 1 to the Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools education committee about the centre, now known as OceanEXP, Canada’s Centre for Ocean Exploration.
While originally envisioned as a museum, plans have evolved and Tessier said a feasibility study based on primary research is forthcoming from MNP. He said the association wants the centre to be more than a museum, it wants the centre to be an iconic facility unlike anything else in the world.
The centre would include an interactive, immersive dynamic virtual theatre, with high-definition, virtual and 3-D technology, although not IMax.
“It was a museum piece and we wanted to take that and turn it into a living experience of virtual reality beyond tanks that were filled with water,” said Nadeau. “In today’s age there is no more aquariums … everything’s going to become a virtual reality environment where the experience can be far more effective, and that’s what we’ve adopted. It allowed us to create a strong educational component.
“We can actually control the curriculum that we put in, the visual display, that’s again interactive with a high educational component. We teach about the technology that we use to explore the oceans and, in doing so, we put it together with the environment and the threats that the oceans face right now.”
When asked by Jo Cornthwaite, Nanaimo District Teachers’ Association representative, about who’s designing the curriculum, Nadeau said it would be collaborative.
“As far as the actual curriculums throughout the facility itself, what we want to do … is approach the school systems and say, ‘We’re not reinventing the wheel and we’re not going to tell you what that curriculum is.’ We want to create a program that is symbiotic with what you’re producing in the schools, what you’re introducing, so that’s part of that partnership we seek,” said Nadeau.
Tessier said more than $100,000 “pure cash” has been raised for the project and more than $250,000 in contributions from corporations and other groups. The deep discovery association said discussions are taking place with Snuneymuxw First Nation.
The education committee said any letter of support should be dependent on consent from Snuneymuxw, and tabled a motion for a letter of support until September.
The association will be presenting the study to the City of Nanaimo in the future.