Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Understanding Headwaters Science Center

Perspectives from a Volunteer - John Mathisen 

Does Headwaters Science Center really matter? Is the lofty mission and vision of HSC being achieved, or is it just a place for kids to come and play with cool stuff?

I have been a volunteer there for almost 20 years now, long enough to see how HSC has affected the lives of individuals from childhood to adulthood.

This is what I have seen over the past two decades.

Children and young volunteers from years ago have grown up and moved into science careers. We have kept in touch with some of them and know they have become biologists, chemists, physicists, museum curators and medical doctors. They all say that HSC played a significant role in their career choices and initially turned them on to science. Score 1 for HSC.

Every time I’m on the exhibit floor I see the eyes of children light up as they discover something new about science, and their imaginations soar just like the hot air balloon. They ask questions and get answers from the ever-present professional staff. Is it possible I am seeing the beginnings of future scientists that our country so desperately needs? I think so.  Score 2 for HSC.

The live animals at HSC offer a huge learning opportunity. Not only do kids and adults learn a few facts, but they get the notion that all living things are valuable and deserve our respect – even snakes and tarantulas! So often I see fear and apprehension transformed to admiration and wonderment. Teaching at HSC is not about the facts of science – it’s about a way of thinking about science. And it’s so much fun. Score 3 for HSC.

Finally, it is wonderful to watch kids, parents and grandparents learn and explore science together on the exhibit floor, and family activities are often the focus of events and programs. Clearly, a benefit to our society. Score 4 for HSC.

Headwaters Science Center is a nonprofit organization and receives no public funding. About one-third of operating expenses comes from gifts and donations. And therein is the rub. They have to ask for donations. You can help to “Make a Difference” by participating in Give to the Max Day on November 14. Check out the HSC web site  for information. Open your heart and your wallet to keep HSC going strong, Drop By Drop.

John Mathisen

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