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

Jun
2

Meet the Makers: Dan Kreipke

Meet the Makers: Dan Kreipke

I moved from St. Louis to Des Moines in 2009 to study environmental science and policy and music at Drake University. Since graduating in 2013, I have worked in various laboratory settings and continue writing and performing music.

Thanks to my academic background in science, sustainability and music, I’m excited for this summer’s Make@SCI themes, especially Reuse, Reduce, UPCYCLE and Noise Garden. The Make Movement’s emphasis on reusables resonated with my passion for sustainability.

I hope to help visitors develop the Maker mindset—using ordinary objects to make extraordinary things. You’re not just a consumer but an ever-adapting DIY producer. Your creativity is the only limiting factor in what you’re capable of “Making.” And the more time you spend Making, the more you’ll be able to apply what you’ve learned to your next creations, as well as everyday life. Being a Maker means using whatever skills you have to help solve nearly any problem in a hands-on, learn-as-you-go way!

Category: Make@SCI

Jun
2

Meet the Makers: Ellie Willhoit

Meet the Makers: Ellie Willhoit

My name is Ellie Willhoit. I studied anthropology and environmental studies at Iowa State University. I found out about the Maker Education Initiative through volunteering for the Central Iowa STEM Hub, and it sparked my interest because I love to learn. I think one of the best ways to learn is through Making!

I love all things outdoors. I enjoy kayaking, biking and running and am super excited about some of the nature- and conservation-based weekly themes, like Reduce, Reuse, UPCYCLE and Natural Wonders. I also enjoy crafting and have experimented with knitting, sewing and stitching. Recently, I built a raised garden bed for growing vegetables. I also enjoy tying flies for fly-fishing, knitting scarves and making stuffed animals for my nephews. I’m looking forward to exploring the world of circuitry and electronics. 

I hope to inspire Science Center of Iowa visitors to explore STEM through Making, and approach unfamiliar topics with an open mind. If you’re not sure how something works, let’s take it apart and put it back together. If you’ve never built a fort before, let’s explore how to make it sturdy. Come find me in the Makers Studio!

Category: Make@SCI

Jun
2

Meet the Makers: Laura Funk

Meet the Makers: Laura Funk

Hi! My name is Laura. I’m currently a student at Iowa State University working on a master’s degree in communication, and I have a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. My goal when I graduate is to be a science communicator and help make science exciting and accessible for everyone.

I was a Maker long before I knew what Making is! As a child, I had tons of model horses I liked to play with, but my parents didn’t want to spend a lot of money to buy accessories for them. My mom taught me how to sew so I could make blankets and saddles, and my dad helped me design and build a toy barn and fences. I soon discovered that I liked the things I made myself better than store-bought toys. I was proud that I was able to create things with my own two hands, and I loved getting to personalize everything exactly how I wanted it.

Since then I’ve made all sorts of things. One thing I get really excited about is upcycling—turning something old or unwanted into something new, useful and awesome! A few quick seams can turn a ripped pair of jeans into a cool, new purse. With a few new shelves and some scrap carpet, you can turn an old bookshelf into the ultimate cat fortress. Everything has potential.

When you visit SCI this summer, I hope you discover the same enthusiasm for Making. It really is a mindset. When you start to believe in you own capacity for creativity and follow your imagination, you’ll develop the skills you need along the way. I hope everyone who experiences Making this summer gets a chance to try something new and maybe even discover a new passion!

Category: Make@SCI

Feb
17

SCI is hiring a Lead Resident Maker

SCI is hiring a Lead Resident Maker

Are you a tinkerer extraordinaire? Love to transform everyday objects into amazing structures, high-flying machines, technological marvels and more?

Join SCI’s creative, energetic staff this spring and summer as our Lead Resident Maker! Whether you’re building the ultimate playing-card tower or creating a carrot keyboard, this position allows you to showcase your innovative spirit and learn new Making skills every day.

We introduced the Make@SCI movement in 2014, and we’re excited for 2015! Our Summer of Making will feature an interactive Makers Studio complete with hands-on activities for Makers of all ages, interests and skill levels.

The Making fun doesn’t stop there. SCI Makers-in-Residence share their passion for innovation during 13 weeks of themed programming. This summer’s themes include Fort Makers, Natural Wonders and Noise Garden.

Make@SCI culminates in the Des Moines Mini Maker Faire, a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness at the Science Center of Iowa. The inaugural celebration in 2014 featured a full-scale R2-D2 replica, laser-light shows, robot battles, solar cars and more.

You can play a key role in another high-flying, fast-paced Summer of Making at SCI as our Lead Resident Maker. Apply today!

Category: Make@SCI

Aug
20

Balloon artist finds joy in the process of Making

Balloon artist finds joy in the process of Making

By Taylor Soule

For balloon artist Brian Becicka, art, science and math aren’t three distinct fields. They’re inextricably intertwined — and his geodesic balloon dome project at the Des Moines Mini Maker Faire proves it.

Becicka is eager to share the incorporation of art, science and math with Maker Faire attendees, who will have the chance to help build the dome that will reach five feet in height and 10 feet in diameter. The promise of a finished product isn’t the guiding force for Becicka, though.

“To me as a balloon artist, that’s part of the draw of the artistry. It is more interesting to see it being made than to see the final structure,” he said. “To see something is not as interesting as being involved in it. It means taking a bit of ownership in the project.”

Maker Faire attendees will contribute to the project by inflating balloons and connecting them to the dome.

Inclusivity is a key principle among the balloon-art community, and Becicka strives to include others from the idea phase all the way to production. And when every balloon is inflated and connected to the dome, he’s satisfied knowing an eclectic piece of art emerged from nothing, with the help of newfound friends. 

“It just comes with being an entertainer and a balloon artist. That’s what we do,” Becicka said. “We share part of ourselves, and it’s unique. It’s fascinating making something out of nothing.”

 

Category: Make@SCI