Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Updates by Laddie Elwell

Flowing With the Current
A Little History;
A Lot of Vision

The Vision

Why did Headwaters Science Center happen to grow in Bemidji? There was never a loud call from the City’s population that there was a great need for a science center, and the City “fathers” and the Chamber of Commerce weren’t even aware that it was happening, nor did they, like most of the community, seem to care. Really, why should they have?

But that was about twenty years ago, and both City leaders and the Chamber are now supportive, as are a large number of people in the community! And who could have guessed that so many wonderful, and sometimes strange and/or hilarious, things would happen to bring us to the beginning of 2012?

In the early 1990’s, there was a group of people in town who were aware that there were quite a few folks with interests in things other than sports and the arts... and that there were kids who had no place to go to enjoy recreational fun involving learning activities. Most of the thirty or so people who attended the first publicized meeting that led to the birth of HSC had grown up in places where they had access to museums, or they were taken to museums as children, and they wanted their kids and grandkids to enjoy museum experiences.

That’s how it started. The former J.C. Penney building was just sitting around, being host to a few gigs, but not being fully utilized after the restaurant and hardware store moved out. Rosemary Given Amble helped us gain temporary access to it, and later she and Bud Amble, Bill Baumgartner, and John Baer helped us arrange a reasonable 5-year mortgage to buy the 413 Beltrami Avenue property. Those of us on the original working committee considered the old building to be a perfect startup site for a small science center: and it has been!

But what do we do at HSC––and what’s our goal? Our mission states: The Headwaters Science Center’s mission is to provide intellectual stimulation and enjoyment for all children and adults in its northern Minnesota service area with scientific and  echnological interactive displays, exhibits, and programs otherwise unavailable in the region. We do this, but it is an unexciting statement of the passion that those of us who work here feel about our real job.

Our real job is to help other people feel the wonder and excitement about how this very remarkable Universe we inhabit really works. Of course, we really don’t understand how everything does work, but, between us all at HSC and our scientist friends, we know many of the answers to questions about a lot of things! And we also know that there are lots of things that NOBODY knows so far... and that is exciting. We know that the kids we work with will grow up in a very different world, and we want to help them understand how to make decisions by carefully weighing alternatives, the way scientists do in assessing the results of carefully conducted experiments. But we also hope that along the way they will learn to feel a kinship with the Universe, that they will
see the magnificence in a butterfly’s wing, the precision in the chemical activities of every green leaf, and the true wonder of our Earth and all its inhabitants.

My Vision for HSC –

• Within a few months: a new executive director, passionate and knowledgeable about science and science center roles in rural areas and university towns, and appreciative of diverse cultures.

• Within two to five years: building the new center we need.

• Now and into the future: a soundly functioning, challenging, exciting, and up-to-date science center that will serve northern Minnesota exceptionally well!

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