#SCIL11 Danfoss Universe: Theme Park meets Science Centre

“We need a new place to bring passion for science and technology back to our children. Danfoss Universe shall be such a place” Jorgensen Mads Clauson, Founder

The vision behind the science based theme park was to bring a practical solution to meeting the future science, creativity and innovation needs of Denmark by providing a place that will foster the thinking required to build innovation and creativity into the upcoming generation.

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Danfoss Universe in western Denmark, not far from the German border is part science centre and part theme park. The park has been operating for seven seasons (April to October) and has attracted ore than one million visitors in that time. Considering its location from a major city, that is an impressive achievement.

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The park was borne out of a commitment of the founder of the Danfoss company, Jorgensen Mads Clausen, to develop a place to inspire creativity and innovation in young people. In developing this amazing learning environment the people at Danfoss Universe have successfully combined the ‘wow factor’ of the theme park, with the ‘aha’ of the science centre.

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Pia Bech Matheson has been the CEO of Danfoss Universe since April 2011. Taking the original dream of Jorgensen Mads Clausen she has a vision to make science more relevant to young people. At Danfoss they seek to teach, inspire, and spark curiosity, that will mean that the students will go back to their own school eager learn more, investigate and innovate.

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The park was originally designed with the Year 3 to the high school aged students in mind. The vision for the future is to further expand the learning, innovation and creativity to what they are calling ‘from ABC to PhD’, facilitating the learning transitions. There is a deliberate focus on keeping the park environment clean and cared for. There is amazing attention to detail in creating a pleasant and engaging physical environment. The gardens are beautiful and an attraction in themselves.

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The learning philosophy is based on providing everyday experiences, that lead to a basic knowledge and then understanding of the principles to being able to apply that knowledge and utilize both thinking and intuition.

There are a few key themes that underpin the philosophy at Danfoss Universe:

The attraction model has three elements operating within narrative and themed framework
Nature – landscape and atmosphere
Technology – attraction and thrills
Mind – exhibits and interactions

Theory of interest development.
Trigger situational interest – provide the situation that will trigger interest
Maintain situational interest – provide opportunities to keep the interest
Emerging personal interest – students take personal interest and describe themselves according interest
Maintained personal interest – students don’t need an adult to keep motivated

Flow theory – relates to our experiences of work and learning. It’s a balance between being sufficiently challenged, in that I am engaged and having the resources to meet the challenge. When over challenged, lacking resources students become fearful, and insufficient challenge with full resources, they do nothing.

Pia Bech Matheson likes to describe Danfoss Universe this way, “not just hands-on, we like to call it body-on”. That was definitely our experience as we were just like the children, playing with the many activities during our day.

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