Attendance doubles at Homewood Science Center

The Homewood Science Center doubled its attendance in 2018, according to Edie Dobrez, the center’s executive director.
  Homewood Science Center
  continues to expand its 
  offerings, which include the 
  popular PopUp Science
  programs.

She outlined that and other important information in the HSC’s 2018 report for Homewood trustees at a recent board meeting.

Dobrez said the center, at 18022 Dixie Highway, is a great example of a public/private partnership. The center was organized by the Village of Homewood in 2016 with a goal of serving a growing need for science education. Today half the funding comes from the village and half from donors. 
 
HSC has developed a network of teachers and science experts to share their expertise and learn from each other, and a dedicated cadre of volunteers who support a staff of five.
 
HSC is known for its Pop-Up Science programs, short-term learning sessions for kids, as well as programs that involve families and the community. 
 
Dobrez said the staff served more than 1,500 school students through its “Roller Coasters: An Inventor’s Journey” field trip that focuses on the principles of engineering.
 
Its other major program, “Girls STEAM Ahead,” is a networking and mentoring program for girls in junior high and high school. In 2018, attendance grew to nearly 125 girls from 34 schools. The majority of the students were minorities. Dobrez said the business community is especially interested in how it can serve minorities now to make them part of future employment.
 
Trustees applauded Dobrez and her staff for what they have been able to accomplish in such a short time. 
 
Trustee Barbara Dawkins said her first-grade son recently took an HSC coding class, and she had friends move to Homewood, in part, because the village has a science center.
 
“I think it’s a wonderful reflection of the community because we really value education,” Dobrez said, “and one of the compliments we receive is (the center) feels like a community classroom, and it really does.”
 
Trustee Jay Heiferman and Village Manager Jim Marino are members of the HSC board under the leadership of Jeffery McClain of Schneider Electric.
 
When a science center was first proposed, the plan was for permanent exhibits. By contrast, HSC is a place for hands-on learning, whether that is the Imagination Playground for young children, the Makery area for kids interested in creating something, the specialty classes offered in summer or the monthly Pop-Up Science programs.
 
“It’s really amazing what the Homewood Science Center has become,” Heiferman said, “and how we have taken it into directions that we did not anticipate.”
 
“It is totally dfferent, to the good. It’s so refreshing as a community of our size to be able to provide this,” Trustee Larry Burnson said.
 
Dobrez invited everyone to the Walk Walton fundraising event from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20. A program of nature walks through the Izaak Walton Preserve, a festival, food and science events are on tap.
 
For information visit homewoodsciencecenter.org. Dobrez said the 2018 annual report is available on the website.

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