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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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  • Pajama Party Makes Science Fun for Girls

    Nearly 200 girls participated in a late-night adventure at SCI on September 20. Though there were no pillows and it wasn’t quite a sleepover, they did don their PJs for a chance to participate in SCI’s 2nd Annual Girls in Science Pajama Party.

    The girls, ages 8 to 15, arrived at SCI eager for the chance to learn how science could be a part of their future. Another important goal for SCI was to give these girls a community to support and encourage their interest in science.

    Many parents hoped that the event would help spark an interest in science for their daughters. One said, “I hope she has fun, makes connections, is encouraged by likeminded peers and is more excited about figuring things out and making a career of it!”

    To get the creativity flowing, the night began with some dancing and getting-to-know-you games. Then, the party moved to the six-story IMAX theater for a screening of Island of Lemurs: Madagascar, which features Dr. Patricia Wright, an accomplished primatologist, anthropologist and conservationist… and a great female role model.

    According to post-event surveys, though, the best part of the night was the workshops, when the girls got to test and experiment in small group challenges.

    In the “Parachute Plunge” workshop, groups were challenged to design a parachute that would slow an object’s fall from SCI’s second floor. The girls were encouraged to test their hypotheses and experiment with different designs. Then, they went to the test site and let their parachutes fly!

    In the “Stop-Motion Dinos” workshop, groups used plastic dinosaur models and environmental props to create a short stop-motion animation film. Once each group developed a plot and storyline, they used an iPad app to direct and photograph their story.

    Finally, the Pajama Party concluded with the chance to wish upon a star… a star that they viewed through high-powered telescopes! It was the first experience with a telescope for many of the girls, and many were surprised at the detail of celestial objects like the moon and Mars.

    At the end of the night, 89 percent of the girls who completed a survey said they either had “Fun” or “So Much Fun!,” 32 percent said they “Learned a Lot” and 59 percent said they were “More Excited” about science as a result of the Pajama Party.

    Thanks to the support of Presenting Sponsor DuPont Pioneer, the Girls in Science Pajama Party was made available to girls for a cost of just $5 per person.Learn more about SCI’s Girls in Science Initiative at www.sciowa.org/girlsinscience.

  • SCI's energy, special events motivate volunteer turned staff member

    Playing-card tower expert: That was Taylor Kooker’s first title at the Science Center of Iowa. She encouraged participants to ask questions as they designed whimsical playing-card forts on her first day as a volunteer at the Des Moines Mini Maker Faire in September 2014.

    “My favorite part was when I helped kids build cool, tall forts out of cards,” Kooker said. “It was fun to see what they created.”

    Today, Kooker has a new title: sales associate. After volunteering at the Des Moines Mini Maker Faire and other special events, Kooker joined the SCI Box Office staff, a position she has held since June.

    She initially got involved with SCI’s Volunteer Program to earn hours for her silver cord at Carlisle High School, where she graduated in May. One behind-the-scenes role led to another, giving Kooker, 17, a new perspective on all things SCI.

    “When I volunteered here, I interacted with the kids in the exhibits,” Kooker said. “Now, I run group orientations, so it’s fun to see big groups of kids come in and help start their visit the right way.”

    Whether she’s building the ultimate playing-card fortress or welcoming a group, Kooker said SCI’s high-energy work environment and community-focused events keep her coming back.

    “Everyone is so friendly. It’s a cool place to work,” she said. “I think SCI’s events contribute a lot to the Des Moines metro.”