Science Center of Iowa Blog

At the Science Center of Iowa, our goal is to be a quality community resource for informal science learning where children, families, school groups and individuals come to explore science and technology. To continue the learning outside our walls, we give you the SCI blog! Our knowledgeable staff, along with special guests and local scientists, will give you a behind-the-scenes look at SCI activities and in-depth information about science events.

Latest Posts

May
31

What is "Making" & Why Does It Matter?

What is "Making" & Why Does It Matter?

What Is "Making"?

This is a great question! And the answer is best put by Travis Good, of MAKE Magazine, in this article on the topic. Here's an excerpt:

"At the lowest level, 'making' is something primal. We need to make, and in making, there’s a great sense of satisfaction. Moving up the making hierarchy has historically required the grand pre-requisite of acquiring skills. We start off with amateurish work. With time and lots of practice, we gradually improve. Eventually, with the guidance of skilled mentors, we achieve a measure of expertise and become true craftsmen. People are creative. People want to make. However skills acquisition has been a huge barrier. That’s changing.

"Computers and the internet have been slowly reducing the barriers to making. For decades, tools have become smarter, design software has become more powerful, and they’ve conspired to make it easier to go from concept to prototype. While computers have done their part, the internet, too, has contributed in a big way. With the twin communication activities of sharing and collaborating, it’s now easier than ever to mature an idea into a product. Now, you can start building using designs shared by others, you can find people with complimentary skills with whom to collaborate, and you can create prototypes, iterate and improve quickly. We’re living in a new reality. That is what’s different. That is what’s changed. We’re at a tipping point. What we have today isn’t your father’s 'making' anymore."

Why Making Matters (especially in Iowa)

Making through prototyping, testing, experimenting, inventing and innovating is sparking new interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). It’s helping promote values like creativity, problem-solving, collaboration and self-expression -- all skills necessary to fill jobs in the world’s fastest-growing industries.

Making is preparing young people for STEM careers by getting them to participate in the process and perceive themselves as makers.

Encouraging a "Makers Movement" in Iowa can reap significant economic benefits. According to Iowa Workforce Development, a highly-skilled workforce that has the opportunity to create ground-breaking new processes is essential to the future of manufacturing in our country.

Iowa remains one of the nation’s top states for manufacturing with employees in advanced manufacturing jobs earning an annual average wage of $52,983. Iowa is proud to be on the cutting edge of advanced manufacturing, and by engaging a new generation of students with STEM skills, SCI can support its efforts.

Making is also attracting the interest of educators concerned about students’ disengagement from STEM subjects in formal educational settings. It is seen as having the potential to contribute to a more participatory approach and create new pathways into topics that will make them more alive and relevant to students.

Make@SCI

This summer, making is at the center of SCI programming. Along with a Makers Studio that will be a permanent presence on the Main Level floor beginning June 7, two Makers Corps members will lead workshops, projects and special events throughout the summer. Every two weeks will focus on one aspect of Making - from manipulating nature to programming, robotics, music, animation and even hacking.

It all culminates in a Maker Fair – September 1, 2014. Part science fair, part county fair and part
something entirely new, Maker Fair is an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, artists, educators,
crafters, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors and students. Iowa’s “makers” will come
to Maker Fair to show what they have made and share what they have learned.

 

Learn more about Make@SCI at www.sciowa.org/make

Category: Make@SCI

May
16

Meet the Makers: Bailey McClurg

Meet the Makers: Bailey McClurg

It’s going to be an exciting summer at the Science Center of Iowa!

My name is Bailey McClurg, and I’m one of the two Maker Corps Members that will be working at SCI this summer. I’m originally from Waukee, and I’m currently a sophomore in biomedical engineering at the University of Iowa.

Obviously, I do a lot of making at school, but I’ve also been involved with projects related to more artistic fields like music and theatre in the past, and I like to bake and knit in my spare time.

Our Maker Spring Development Camps are giving us a great insight into methods to plan projects and engage all types of people in making. I’m excited to implement these practices in my time at SCI, and I look forward to our summer of making!

Category: Make@SCI

May
16

Meet the Makers: Gavin Warnock

Meet the Makers: Gavin Warnock

Hi! My name is Gavin Warnock, and I am a graduating senior at Grinnell College. I am receiving degrees in physics and studio art, and I am in the education licensure program at the college. After my summer with the Maker Corps, I will be student teaching at Southeast Polk High School for the fall. From there I want to continue my practice as I find ways to bring making to the classroom.

To give you an idea of how I got to the Maker Corps... I grew up in Perry, IA, and I have lived here in Iowa my entire life. I spent my first significant time in the art studio in high school. I had a fantastic time making things and thought it was something I could really pursue.

My love for science began with my introduction to science fiction. As a child, I always loved science fiction movies, books, games and television. As I went through school, I found how much of this world I came to love is based on fact. As a physics student at Grinnell, I was able to see some unique demonstrations. I found myself thinking over and over, “This would make an incredible sculpture.”

As I gained knowledge and skill in my studio practice, these ideas that I wrote in the margins of my lecture notes became realities. As my studies in education developed, my work began to take on content and themes in education. This is where my making lies now. I find myself making works for which I often insert myself as a guide to or through the statements, physics, aesthetics and entertainment I explore. I feel very fortunate that I found this path to becoming a maker.

This summer, I am excited to collaborate with my peers in the corps and with the community at the Science Center of Iowa.

I feel as though I learn so much when I interact with everyone -- from Ph.D.’s to preschoolers. Each person gives me new insights to the topics I choose to explore. I am also very excited to try new things. Even as an art and science major, my experiences in making are limited to the classes I had time to take and the outside research I had the time to do. This program is an extraordinary way to jump in to new types of making in new settings.

I am looking forward to spending as much time as I can exploring, experimenting, playing, making and learning with the Maker Corps and the Science Center of Iowa.

Category: Make@SCI

May
15

Entomologist Receives Inaugural SCI Girls in Science Scientist of the Year Award

Entomologist Receives Inaugural SCI Girls in Science Scientist of the Year Award

At last night's Girls in Science Launch Party, we unveiled a new award: the SCI Girls in Science Scientist of the Year Award!

This new award recognizes a local scientist who best exemplifies the Girls in Science Initiative's goal to empower and equip girls in science, technology, engineering and math with involvement in SCI's programs as well as participation in other programs throughout the community.

The inaugural winner of the award is Laura Higgins, Ph.D.

Dr. Higgins is Research Director at DuPont Pioneer and a Board Certified Entomologist. She is an active SCI volunteer and has been specially-trained through SCI's Portal to the Public program in best practices for communicating current science to visitors. After participating in many Girls in Science programs and events over the past few years, Higgins joined the SCI Board of Directors in January 2014.

Higgins also embodies the spirit of SCI's Girls in Science Initiative throughout the community as a Girl Scout leader, a student mentor for "Science Bound" at Roosevelt High School, a member of the Grand View University Biology Advisory Committee, a presenter at "Taking the Road Less Traveled" sponsored by Iowa State University's Program for Women in Science and Engineering and a regular participant in area science fairs for Des Moines Public Schools.

Learn more about SCI's Girls in Science Initiative at www.sciowa.org/girlsinscience.

Category: General SCI

Apr
29

Portal scientist and SCI volunteer joins Board of Directors

Laura Higgins, Ph.D. Research Director for Insect Trait Development at DuPont Pioneer

Laura Higgins, Ph.D. Research Director for Insect Trait Development at DuPont Pioneer

When Laura Higgins joined the SCI Board of Directors in March, it was merely an extension of her ongoing efforts to support the organization.

She brought with her a very special ally: T-Bone, the Madagascar hissing cockroach. Both Laura and T-Bone remain active in a variety of SCI events, including Girls in Science, $5 Family Nights, Portal to the Public and Café Scientifique.

"I have loved SCI for a long time," Higgins said. "It's very accessible and provides a fantastic focal point for science education and knowledge for all age groups." In her profession as an entomologist, Higgins said she often talks to people who fear insects. "SCI gives me an opportunity to cultivate an interest in insects before the fear kicks in."

"I have a responsibility as a scientist to cultivate interest and teach people how to find answers. People deal with scientific topics every day, and they often fear what they don't understand. I help people appreciate their surroundings and find a comfort level with things that previously have been confusing or hard."

Higgins finds the Girls in Science education and programming offered by SCI vital. "Many girls fall out of interest with math and science early in life. We need a format to encourage them to stay interested, and Girls in Science gives us that opportunity. I tell those girls to find something they are passionate about, talk to as many people as they can about it and learn from people who share their passion. Success finds people who are passionate about what they do."

Category: General SCI