Croatian Hagrid and Science Park near Oroslavje

By 13 January 2020

Luka Veverec's beard and towering figure make him easily confused for a Zagorje version of Hagrid. Still, Veverec is not a "keeper of keys," rather a visionary who has spent the last five years creating a unique Science Park (Park znanosti) near Oroslavje in Hrvatsko zagorje.

tportal writes about Veverec and his vision, saying in the first passage of their article that there aren't many people whose charisma takes you in right away as Veverec's does. So, they tell a story of this 38-year old civil engineer, who left his comfortable job in his early thirties to make an effort of creating something new and different. The first thing he did after leaving his job was to travel around a bit, and while in London he and his girlfriend visited a museum which gave him the idea to make the science seem fun.

He was always interested in how the children are taught science in Croatian schools, and if there was a better way than to rely on some of the teachers, who sometimes don't really succeed in attracting young minds to want to learn more about the sciences. So he reread all of the textbooks and found that they're riddled with various problems and complications. Some of the things that take hours in schools can be figured out in his Science Park in minutes. 

The Science Park is imagined as a place that will inspire you to understand something yourselves through touching, playing, or experimenting with, after which a series of well-structured questions will get you to understand a particular physical law. And that's the way of teaching which works, and the lessons stay with you forever. Luka explained to the tportal's journalist why it's possible to hear the human voice from a distance of 30 meters, how Newton's laws work or why it's possible to skate. Unfortunately, currently, the Science Park is closed for the winter, so those were the only available lessons. 

Science Park is an innovative model of the popularisation of science, not just in Croatia. It takes around an hour to walk the park, and in that walk, you'll be able to interact with 25 exhibits, each representing a lesson or a fundamental law of nature. Currently, the exhibits cover physics, geography, astronomy, and psychology. It's been open for almost two years, and it's been visited by thousands of children, parents, and teachers. Luka and his brother and father guide the tours of the park. It's a well-oiled machine, and they often get comments from satisfied visitors on how much the museum has expanded their horizons.

Luka started working on the first exhibit, the Musical Fence, back in 2013, and the first prototype he created (and invested numerous hours and 10 thousand kunas into it) failed, so he was forced to start from the beginning. His education gave him some background knowledge needed to create the exhibits, but he also needed help. So his friends from different educational backgrounds helped him, and he learned from them. His family owned a house near Oroslavje with an enormous yard, which was a logical solution for the Park's location. All the work done at the park was done by local craftsmen, as he was committed to the idea of sustainability. The additional funding came from various grants and projects (both Croatian and EU), and after five years of preparation, the park was opened and currently employs four people. This winter, Veverec is expanding the Park, and he plans to add 25 additional exhibits. He needs two more employees for his park, and he needs them to have a desire to learn, transfer knowledge, and understand the way children think. There are many candidates for the positions, but not many fulfill his criteria. 

However, he is patient and believes that everything will be OK in the end. He's expanding his Park slowly, looking forward to seeing more thrilled children in his park. You can also visit the Park, starting in the spring, and you can find more information on and the Park's FB page.


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