Monday, May 9, 2011

A New Challenge

Flowing With The Current
by Laddie Elwell

This is a difficult message to write. I want to explain what Headwaters Science Center can become to Bemidji and Northern Minnesota and what’s keeping that from happening. I also want to help everyone thoroughly understand why working with little kids is so critical and explain why HSC needs new leadership and funding by February 2012.

Our present building, wonderful as a starter, is a dead end as a proper science center for Northern Minnesota. It was intended to provide the beginning of a center that would serve people of all ages who want to know more about living organisms and the world
around them. Location, space, and funds prevent our staff from being able to do much more than provide exhibits and programs for children and families and some support for teachers, and that doesn’t pay the bills––nor does it fulfill the HSC mission or meet
community goals. (See our mission statement on our web site, noting in particular the phrase “children and adults.”)

At a time when social and economic problems facing our nation and world are mostly reliant on solutions based on good science, when too few young Americans are following scientific careers, and when American students lag behind students in other nations in science, it is still very difficult to find adequate financial support for informal
science education. A science center can stimulate youngsters’ lifelong interests in science and provide support for teachers and citizens in the form of workshops, equipment, and educational resources. A great many, if not most, productive scientists grew up being fascinated by exhibits, programs and/or collections in museums and science centers.

Science centers become important community and regional attractions because science is really interesting, stimulating, and–yes, it certainly can be fun! The newly proposed New Vision Project, which will link science with the arts, history, and culture,
will be particularly attractive to regional residents and to tourists!

Why is it important to work with children? Of course they’re cute, amusing, and occasionally maddening, but they are the future.  Introduction to scientific procedures and methods can often help with all kinds of decision making: problems can be solved––or at least faced squarely and recognized for what they are. Hundreds of wonderfully supportive people have made HSC possible and viable for 17 years. By next February, HSC’s financial backing must be improved if it is to continue, for it will have to pay a new executive director and financial director, which it has not ever had to do. It is
time for HSC to have new administration––and it’s time for Jim and me to retire and encourage new ideas and projects.