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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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  • Meet the Makers: Ellie Willhoit

    My name is Ellie Willhoit. I studied anthropology and environmental studies at Iowa State University. I found out about the Maker Education Initiative through volunteering for the Central Iowa STEM Hub, and it sparked my interest because I love to learn. I think one of the best ways to learn is through Making!

    I love all things outdoors. I enjoy kayaking, biking and running and am super excited about some of the nature- and conservation-based weekly themes, like Reduce, Reuse, UPCYCLE and Natural Wonders. I also enjoy crafting and have experimented with knitting, sewing and stitching. Recently, I built a raised garden bed for growing vegetables. I also enjoy tying flies for fly-fishing, knitting scarves and making stuffed animals for my nephews. I’m looking forward to exploring the world of circuitry and electronics. 

    I hope to inspire Science Center of Iowa visitors to explore STEM through Making, and approach unfamiliar topics with an open mind. If you’re not sure how something works, let’s take it apart and put it back together. If you’ve never built a fort before, let’s explore how to make it sturdy. Come find me in the Makers Studio!

  • Meet the Makers: Laura Funk

    Hi! My name is Laura. I’m currently a student at Iowa State University working on a master’s degree in communication, and I have a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. My goal when I graduate is to be a science communicator and help make science exciting and accessible for everyone.

    I was a Maker long before I knew what Making is! As a child, I had tons of model horses I liked to play with, but my parents didn’t want to spend a lot of money to buy accessories for them. My mom taught me how to sew so I could make blankets and saddles, and my dad helped me design and build a toy barn and fences. I soon discovered that I liked the things I made myself better than store-bought toys. I was proud that I was able to create things with my own two hands, and I loved getting to personalize everything exactly how I wanted it.

    Since then I’ve made all sorts of things. One thing I get really excited about is upcycling—turning something old or unwanted into something new, useful and awesome! A few quick seams can turn a ripped pair of jeans into a cool, new purse. With a few new shelves and some scrap carpet, you can turn an old bookshelf into the ultimate cat fortress. Everything has potential.

    When you visit SCI this summer, I hope you discover the same enthusiasm for Making. It really is a mindset. When you start to believe in you own capacity for creativity and follow your imagination, you’ll develop the skills you need along the way. I hope everyone who experiences Making this summer gets a chance to try something new and maybe even discover a new passion!