About SCI

The Science Center of Iowa engages and inspires visitors by bringing learning to life.

Centrally located in Downtown Des Moines, SCI's hands-on exhibits, special-format theaters and unique programming attract Iowans and distant visitors. Through daily visitors, a statewide educational outreach program and the NAEYC-accredited SCI Preschool, the Science Center of Iowa serves more than 200,000 people annually.

SCI programming reaches every county in the state of Iowa, promotes cultural awareness and provides unique experiences for Iowans. The broad range of available opportunities — from Science @ Your Site, which offers a variety of assemblies and demonstrations at schools, libraries and festivals, to professional development training that advance STEM literacy and bring innovative activities to educators statewide — speaks to the many roles SCI plays for the community and is the foundation upon which SCI has built a successful organization.

SCI also supports the larger interests of the Des Moines metro area by being a significant place for community gatherings and maintaining collaborative partnerships with neighborhoods, cultural groups, Iowa businesses, the educational system, sponsoring investors and others who share the mission of developing skills and encouraging cultural exchange.

Mission & Goals

The Science Center of Iowa engages and inspires Iowans along their journey of lifelong science learning.

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.

Our Commitment to Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Access

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) inform every aspect of our lives. As a community anchor that celebrates diversity, the Science Center of Iowa strives to dismantle barriers that limit access and equity in STEM. 

We commit to:

  • Inspire lifelong learning through creating welcoming environments and conditions which support ALL in STEM learning.
  • Work toward eliminating inequities with those who have historically been marginalized and underserved in STEM learning.
  • Improve our communities through building relationships, thought and action on topics related to equity, inclusion and public access to STEM.

To be successful, the Science Center of Iowa embraces the need for continual reflection upon these principles and commits to adapting to the changing needs of our communities, creating greater global awareness and improving upon our actions and experiences.

SCI History

The pioneering Des Moines Center of Science and Industry opened its doors in October 1970 in Greenwood-Ashworth Park. What started as a Junior League of Des Moines project became one of the first interactive science centers in the world, rising to the forefront of a new wave of learning centers featuring hands-on programs and exhibits.

Over the years, the center gained prominence as its audience expanded and the name was changed to the Science Center of Iowa in 1986 to better reflect its statewide reach. From space science to dinosaurs, SCI was inspiring generations of future scientists and inventors.

In the year 2000, SCI recognized a need to expand in order to meet the changing needs of its Iowa community, and planning began for a new downtown facility. This creative learning center opened its doors in Downtown Des Moines in May 2005 with an innovative, dynamic and changing environment that adapts its experience platforms, theaters and programming to serve future generations. As of 2017, the Science Center of Iowa has served more than five million participants in our informal learning center with engaging educational programs, exhibits and films.


Donation Requests

SCI supports other nonprofits in Iowa through donations of tickets to qualified organizations for fundraising purposes. Please read the guidelines on the donation request form to determine if your organization is eligible. Then, fill out the form and submit it to development@sciowa.org.