SCI 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 of all ages come to explore science and technology.

To continue the learning outside our building, we bring 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, in-depth information about science events and STEM connections in the Des Moines area.

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  • Science is a human right

    Do you believe science is a human right? We do! And on November 10, we join 300+ other science centers and museums around the world to highlight the role we play on our communities.

    International Science Center and Science Museum Day (ISCSMD) is an international effort to raise awareness and encourage action toward global sustainability, focusing on the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, which seek to end poverty, fight inequalities, tackle climate change and transform our world – while ensuring that no one is left behind.

    It’s the largest joint project ever launched by the world’s science centers and museums!

    Here are some of the ways we at the Science Center of Iowa are working toward these global goals:

    Zero Hunger

    • Learning where food comes from goes a long way in developing sustainable consumption. Visitors to our Small Discoveries exhibit get the chance to “milk” a cow, “harvest” corn and take it from the farm to the market to the kitchen.

    Good Health & Well-Being

    • Have you ever met our seven-foot tall, blue-haired friend Stuffee? In the program “Meet Stuffee,” visitors are invited to explore the inner-workings of the human body and learn how good nutrition keeps us healthy.
    • A mini exhibit near the Food Chain Café invites diners to investigate what a healthy balance of food and exercise looks like with Power Balance.
    • Namaste beneath a nebula? Yoga Under the Stars provides a weekly opportunity to focus on mental health, a crucial component of well-being.
    • High schoolers who are interested in medical careers get a unique opportunity to watch a live open heart surgery during Live From the Heart, an annual partnership with Des Moines University and Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, IL.

    Gender Equality

    • One of our cornerstone programs, the Girls in Science Initiative is designed to empower and equip girls in science, technology, engineering and math because research shows that, while women are attending and completing college at higher rates than ever before, they remain underrepresented in STEM fields. Girls in Science events provide opportunities for girls to meet and interact with female role models.

    Clean Water & Sanitation

    • How many gallons of bottled water do humans drink each year on average? A mini exhibit near our water fountains on the Main Level highlights the recycling process and encourages visitors to fill up their own reusable bottles.

    Affordable & Clean Energy

    • The power of water is the focus of a well-loved exhibit in When Things Get Moving, where visitors create dams to direct water and “Power Up.”

    Decent Work & Economic Growth

    • Another one of our core programs is the Make@SCI Through onsite programs as well as a highly successful teacher professional development program called “Making STEM Connections,” we use making to introduce people of all ages to the skills and problem-solving techniques they can apply in a modern workforce that’s demanding more and more STEM professionals.

    Industry, Innovation & Infrastructure

    • Our new exhibit, Brick by Brick, features large-scale models made entirely of LEGO® bricks – a feat of innovation in and of itself – but also highlights the challenges that engineers had to overcome when creating the real-life structures. After trying some hands-on building challenges themselves, maybe some our visitors will become engineers, architects and designers who solve the construction challenges of tomorrow!

    Reduced inequalities

    • SCI is committed to reaching new audiences and providing opportunities for access and equity. One of our newest programs, Sensory-Friendly Hours, invites families with children on the autism spectrum or with sensory processing disorders to experience SCI in an environment adapted to meet their needs. On the first Saturday of the month from 8:30-10:00 am (October through May), we provide a quieter, less crowded visit for these families.

    Sustainable Cities & Communities

    • Our impact reaches far beyond our building! SCI programming reaches all 99 counties of Iowa and beyond through our educational outreach program, Science @ Your Site, which brings the excitement of SCI to classrooms and assemblies throughout the state!
    • A new addition to our campus is a bike-share station, B-Cycle, which encourages active transportation around downtown Des Moines.

    Life Below Water + Life On Land

    • Do you know Snippy the Snapping Turtle? Or Peaches the Three-Toed Box Turtle? Our What On Earth? exhibit showcases Iowa’s native habitats and the animals that live in them.
    • An even better way to learn about the natural environments around you is to GET OUTSIDE! The Collectors’ Corner encourages visitors to investigate the world around them by collecting and learning about natural artifacts.
    • The earth has a lot to say… just listen! In our “Global Soundscapes” planetarium show, you can join a team of soundscape ecologists to learn how the sounds around you tell us about the health and well-being of the planet.

    Quality Education

    • Throughout everything we do – whether it’s exhibits, events, school programs or professional development – we aim to engage and inspire Iowans along their journey of lifelong science learning… it’s our mission!

    On International Science Center and Science Museum Day – and every day – we will continue to support our visitors who actively seek information and positive change in our communities. Help us continue to advance our mission by making a tax-deductible contribution before the end of the year!

  • Invest in a great start with STEM programs

    Our littles today are tomorrow’s inventors and problem solvers. So how can we, as parents, help our young explorers get off to a great start?

    It starts with our own mindset! Research shows that adult caregivers are critical in the education trajectory of their young children. Our attitudes and values directly influence our children more than anything else in their schooling years. But where to start?

    Early childhood programs developed by the Science Center of Iowa (SCI) empower caregivers to gain confidence in science content, overcome misconceptions and provide easy ways to incorporate these concepts into their daily lives. Programs are designed using best practices in early childhood education and focus around STEM concepts – or science, technology, engineering and math.

    They have a few great programs that will spark your kiddo’s curiosity – and maybe even teach parents a thing or two as well!

    Pint Size Science and Toddler Edition Classes
    Offered two days each month during the school year, these classroom experiences introduce young explorers to science concepts through fun, hands-on activities they can share with a parent or caregiver. Pint Size Science is designed for children ages 3 to 5, and Toddler Edition classes are for littles ages 20 months to 3 years. Register early – because classes fill quickly!

    Summer and Winter Camps
    Science camps help children form friendships and develop a love for science early on. The SCI Preschool operates Summer and Winter Camps as well as full-day summer classes to encourage children to explore how and why things happen and discover the answers through experimentation. Winter Camps are scheduled for December 27-28 and January 2-4 this year.

    Family STEM Institute
    The newest of SCI’s early childhood programs, Family STEM Institute provides families with tools and tips to incorporate educational learning into their daily lives. Evening workshops are open to families with children ages 0 to 8. This year’s Family STEM Institute workshops are on December 4 (Classifying Creatures), February 28 (Exploring Engineering) and April 16 (Bits and Bots). Pre-registration is required.

    To learn more about the Science Center of Iowa’s early childhood programs, visit www.sciowa.org/earlychildhood