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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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  • SCI Volunteer Spotlight: Get to know Jenni Files

    A skittish baby mouse darts from corner to corner in its enclosure in the Animal Room at the Science Center of Iowa. Jenni Files knows the routine: soothing words, gentle movements. Eventually, she guides the little guy into his temporary home, so she can clean the cage.

    Every Friday morning from 7:00-8:30 am, Files volunteers in the Animal Room, meticulously cleaning and restocking 11 mice enclosures. In just six months, she has formed a connection with SCI’s mischief (that’s the word for a group of mice). 

    “They’re really nice, and it’s fun being able to see some of them grow up,” Files said. “It’s fun to be able to see them since they were super tiny.”

    Proud pet mother to a rabbit, two dogs and a cat, Files has always enjoyed working with animals. She shared her interest with SCI Volunteer Manager Chris Juhl, who connected her with Mark Rouw, SCI’s longtime animal specialist.

    After four weeks of training, Files had established her own routine in a volunteer role that fits her passion for the community and furry friends.

    “I think a lot of people have animals at home, and they are interested in animals, but I think it’s that one step of reaching out,” Files said. “Chris Juhl is so nice. Once you talk to him, he is very interested in matching your interests with what you can do as a volunteer at SCI.”

    Files’ passion for animal care has eased the workload for Rouw, too. With Files there to feed and monitor the mice every Friday, Rouw’s list of weekend preparations is more manageable.

    “With Jenni replacing the old mouse bedding, it really allowed me to take care of all of the other animal needs,” he said. “Another benefit of her help was it gave me a nice break from doing one of the less glamorous but very important animal jobs.”

    Files isn’t too concerned about the glamour factor either. She’s busy enjoying each new milestone in the Animal Room and at SCI.

    For Files, watching the mice grow from shut-eyed newborns to jumpy youngsters is a lot like watching the Science Center of Iowa evolve over the years.

    “I just love the Science Center of Iowa, and I’m really happy I’ve been able to do this,” Files said. “Coming here since I was 5 or 6 and then seeing it completely transform from the old location on Grand to this location and just being a part of it and seeing it every week, I really, really like it, and I’m very blessed to be a part of it.”

  • Makers talk project inspiration, the self-starter mindset and more on Twitter

    Missed Tuesday’s Iowa Maker Tweet-Up? Here’s a recap of our conversation with inventors, tinkerers and educators from across the state, featuring all things DIY and upcycling! Tweet #iamakerchat every other Tuesday from 7:00-8:00 pm through August 11 for a fun, fast-paced discussion about a new Making topic.

    Next time: Join us on Tuesday, June 30, from 7:00-8:00 pm for a discussion about the role of technology in art, Making and innovation!

    Making is all about inquiry, so naturally we started with a question:

    Why is it important to have a 'self-starter'/DIY mindset as a Maker? #iamakerchat -@SCIOWA

    If you don't have the drive, you're never going to get off the ground! #iamakerchat -@Area515DSM

    If you're not a self-starter, you probably won't end up making much. So if you are making, you are one! -@MichaelELandon

    Makers turn to a variety of resources for inspiration:

    Question time! Where do you get ideas for DIY projects? Pinterest? Blogs? Other Makers? #iamakerchat -@SCIOWA

    All of those things. Plus the drive to develop a solution to a problem or issue. -@AAMers, American Alliance of Museums

    We learned there’s no right way to start a project:

    When you get an idea, what’s the first thing you do? Sketch? Write about it? Tell a fellow Maker? #iamakerchat -@SCIOWA

    Depends on the person. Any of those things. Some of them just dive right in as soon as the idea hits their mind. #iamakerchat -@Area515DSM

    It’s OK to #MakeMistakes along the way, too…

    What’s one lesson you’ve learned through Making? #iamakerchat -@SCIOWA

    How to bounce back from failures. They’re not the end of the world. And they always make a fantastic story #iamakerchat -@baileymader

    Join us on June 30 for techie talk. Get ready to discuss your favorite gadgets and gizmos at our technology-themed #iamakerchat on Tuesday, June 30, from 7:00-8:00 pm!