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The Da Vinci Science Center announced plans today for the largest exhibit investment in its history – including an expansive preschool area supported with a leadership gift from Bob and Sandy Lovett and an interactive energy conservation area powered by PPL Corporation.
The new exhibits, representing a $350,000 investment, are scheduled to open at the Center’s facility in Allentown, Pa., in early 2017, said Lin Erickson, Da Vinci Science Center Executive Director and CEO.
The expanded preschool area will be anchored by the immersive Engineers On a Roll experience – a combined engineering lab, playscape, and climbing experience that offers preschool children hours of active fun while they explore technology, mathematics, and engineering as they drop, bounce, and sort colorful balls. Engineers On a Roll was created by the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum in Michigan to introduce young children to fundamental engineering concepts.
The energy conservation area will feature an energy dance floor where visitors will harvest their own energy by dancing on tiles that use piezoelectric technology. The area also will include a station where visitors can build their own electric circuits. This area is being designed by the Da Vinci Science Center in cooperation with PPL to provide people of all ages a deeper understanding of energy conservation, energy generation, and energy safety.
The impact of the expanded preschool area will be especially significant, Erickson said, because research shows that quality early-childhood learning experiences in the STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – cultivate a young child’s innate curiosity and that early exposure to mathematics concepts is a strong predictor of a student’s subsequent abilities in math and related subjects.
Additional sponsors for the new preschool exhibit area include PPL Corporation; Jim and Irene McLean; John and Denise Jones; the Donald B. and Dorothy L. Stabler Foundation; ATAS International, Inc.; Air Products; the Bosch Community Fund; the Sylvia Perkin Charitable Trust; the Robert F. Hunsicker Foundation; and D’Huy Engineering.
Erickson said that this exhibit investment is part of a long-term organizational effort to meet the needs for high-quality STEM education and a vibrant STEM workforce. Regional data shows that demand for STEM jobs is growing up to three times more quickly than demand for non-STEM jobs, she said.
“Our objective is always to deliver on our mission to bring science to life and lives to science,” Erickson said. “The two new exhibit areas provide a wonderful opportunity for visitors to engage in hands-on science and gain a deeper understanding of important science concepts that impact their daily lives.”
The Da Vinci Science Center (DSC) is a national award-winning nonprofit organization that has brought science to life and lives to science since 1992. The Center’s hands-on exhibits, programs, and partnership initiatives present science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects to kids informally, playfully, and in ways that relate to their popular interests. These active and engaging experiences awaken interest, promote fundamental skills, and inspire students to consider exciting STEM careers that meet growing industry demands. The Center also promotes creativity, artistry, and current-day applications of qualities of greatness embodied by Leonardo da Vinci and the innovators who have succeeded him. The Center served a record total of 142,743 participants in its latest fiscal year ending June 30, 2016.