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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  • Women in STEM starts with Girls in Science

    Women currently make up roughly half of the U.S. workforce but represent only 26 percent of STEM professionals.

    A gender disparity exists in STEM-related fields. Although the need for workers in STEM fields is growing, girls are less likely to consider pursuing this path. Furthermore, the wage gap between women and men is much smaller in STEM occupations. Women earn $0.92 for every $1.00 earned by men, compared to $0.77 across the workforce.

    As leaders in STEM education, we feel it important to do something about this disparity. Our Girls in Science Initiative empowers girls to pursue science, technology, engineering and math. Each event includes an opportunity for girls to meet and connect with female STEM professionals and learn about their careers. 

    One out of four female students report their greatest challenges in attending college are confidence, motivation or support, and only 4% of female students interested in pursuing STEM careers were encouraged to do so by a mentor. We know that mentors make a huge impact in helping females gain the confidence to pursue their dreams. That is why, as an organization, we are doing everything we can to usher in the next generation of female scientists.

    Throughout the year, we have events that foster these relationships and help girls envision themselves in STEM careers. Meals with Mentors is an incredible event where coders, doctors, researchers, engineers, mathmaticians, scientists and STEM undergraduates connect one-on-one with girls in grades 7-12. Participants share dinner, participate in group challenges and hear from a female STEM leader. This year, in conjunction with our new exhibit, Brick by Brick, the keynote speaker is a transportation engineer who will speak to the challenges and opportunities inherent in pursuing a career in engineering. 

    We know we can shape the future generation of women in STEM by inspiring them as children. When a child is encouraged and given the tools to succeed, they can be the next Marie Curie or Jane Goodall.  Our goal is to encourage every child who dreams of being a ground-breaking scientist, technology genius, aerospace engineer or mathematician and to foster that hope and help shape it into reality.

    You can support Girls in Science events like Meals with Mentors by encouraging girls you know to attend, being a mentor to others and sponsoring initiatives that break down barriers, encouraging everyone to have a passion and interest in STEM careers.

  • 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!