Thursday, October 7, 2010

Notes from Laddie Elwell, Center Director

Flowing With the Current . . . .
Updates by Laddie Elwell
Good News and . . . .

Summer’s gone, and it’s amazing how time sweeps us all along, like some great wind that picks us up in June, whirls us through a series of exciting events, and deposits us in September.

It’s been busy at HSC, and being a bit short-handed has made it hard to get everything done, though we had some wonderful free (to us) help this summer. The Communications Exhibit is up and

running, and I see folks using Morse Code to send messages back and forth between the Baltimore “station” and the San Francisco “station,” or sometimes just practicing on one telegraph key. When I was a child, my brother delivered telegrams by bicycle, and they provided the most important personal communications at the time.

Make sure to look at the history of communications in the center of the exhibit: it drives home just how recently communications have so drastically changed our lives after such a very long, slow start.

The marine (salt water) aquarium is coming along beautifully, though we’re having problems with the chiller, which is needed to keep the water in the right temperature range. Chillers are expensive items, and Reef Club members (who have made the whole exhibit possible––and sustainable!) have been busy looking for a source of a new one. If anyone can help out with this problem, please let us know and we’ll pass the information on to the Reef Club folks.

There is some good news and some bad news. The bad news has to do with our need to raise prices and that is now taking place. The entrance fee for visitors who are 2 to 11 years old is now $4. Also in effect are increases in birthday party, program, and demonstration prices, which you may view on our website. Membership rates go up on January 1st so you might want to renew earlier to take advantage of the present price.

We really hate to do this because we’ve always tried to keep our prices as low as possible, but with lower income from other sources, it has become necessary. Grants and donations have been lower during the last two years, though both memberships and the number of visitors have increased and staff members have been delivering more programs both in the Center and throughout our service area.

The higher attendance we’ve enjoyed means more staffing is needed and costs have increased. It boils down to simple arithmetic: if your cost to produce a product is $1, you can’t sell it for 95 cents; and the more you sell, the faster you will go out of business––unless someone else chips in!

There’s really lots of good news. First of all, we have so many wonderful volunteers who help us out every day who make a big difference in helping to keep HSC operating! Memberships and numbers of visitors have increased. Also, we plan to begin construction on the Respiration/Circulation exhibition in September and open it by late October. It fell behind its original schedule for several reasons: financial, committee member time constraints, and other Center demands. Stay posted: we’ll let you know on the website and in media releases. I think you’ll find it interesting and informative––and enjoyable!

Other items:

•In June, Jeanne Edevold Larson provided leadership for a retreat for the HSC Board and staff. Issues were clarified and priorities established so that we should have an easier time moving forward.

•HSC has become a partner with United Way, joining other local nonprofits. HSC will receive $4,000 from United Way towards operations this year.

•Evergreen’s Kinship North program is collaborating with HSC to provide Science Center time for mentors and involved kids.

There are lots of things going on at HSC. Come on in and find out!