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Sci-tech park in RP’s largest mall

By Charles E. Buban
Inquirer
First Posted 02:55:00 08/10/2007

Filed Under: Computing & Information Technology, Entertainment (general), Education

MANILA, Philippines -- A theme park devoted solely to science and technology is poised to become another distinction for the Philippines? largest mall.

The P313-million SM Science Discovery Center -- the first of its kind in the world, according to Leisure Entertainment Consultancy (LEC) -- is scheduled to open next month at the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City. It is a partnership between SM Prime Holdings and the California-based LEC.

The center is aimed at sparking Filipino interest in science, the way American astronaut Neil Armstrong?s first step on the moon on July 20, 1969, or the showing of the first ?Star Wars? movie on May 25, 1977, drew an entire generation down that path, said LEC president Jim Levesque.

?It?s more ?learning-oriented? than other closely related theme parks, including the Epcot (Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow) Center in Florida,? Levesque said, adding:

?With this theme park, we want our visitors, particularly young students, to develop a greater understanding of science, math and technology. [We will] engage them in experiential programs that augment classroom curricula.?

?Edutainment?

LEC has been specializing in the development and construction of targeted concepts for theme parks, water parks, entertainment, ?edutainment? attractions, museums and leisure tourism destinations for 30 years.

It lists Disney?s California Adventure and Universal Studios in Hollywood and Orlando (Florida) among its many clients.

The way Levesque described the 3,200-square-meter center, which includes a 1,700-sq.m. second level, it is a destination that combines science and entertainment, having merged the basic qualities of a science museum and a theme park.

Its centerpiece is the 16-meter-high dome of the Digistar Planetarium.

Developed by Evans & Sutherland, the planetarium offers sights and sounds created using laser projectors and digital ?surround sound.?

Incredible journeys

?It will be a different experience,? said Ronwell Bete, operations manager of the center. ?Using digital technology, audiences can fly beyond the solar system, be transported across our galaxy to the limits of space and time, go into the heart of the atom, or even go back in time, when dinosaurs roamed the planet.?

Presentations will regularly change, Bete said. Among those already lined up are features on the search for extraterrestrial life, a space voyage to the far reaches of the universe, how Earth life will look like 5 to 200 million years into the future, and a journey back over 2,000 years to Bethlehem.

Interactive exhibits

The SM Science Discovery Center?s other highlights are innovative interactive exhibits based on these technology- and science-based themes:

? Media City, where visitors can play games as well as learn the latest trends in computer graphics and animation.

? Transportation Nation, where visitors can try a flight simulator or drive a concept car.

? City Science, which features technologies in designing a building, including a room that simulates the effects of an earthquake.

? Robot Inc., where not only famous TV and movie robot characters but also consumer-level robots are on display.

? Spaceship Earth, which offers facts and figures about the planet.

? Virtual Reef, which takes viewers on a virtual tour of Philippine marine life.

The center can accommodate 2,900 guests a day (10 a.m.-10 p.m., the mall?s store hours).

The rate is P330 per visitor but discounts will be offered to schools and students, Bete said.

This early, more than 100,000 students from different schools nationwide had booked their visits, he said.



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