Homewood Science Center programs drawing participants from throughout the Chicago area

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Homewood Science Center programs drawing participants from throughout the Chicago area

August 17, 2018 - 21:29
The participation numbers keep growing at the Homewood Science Center.

Executive Director Edie Dobrez told village board members one program drew participants from 25 ZIP Codes. She presented the science center's 2017 annual report to the board at its meeting Aug. 14. 
  People gather at the 
  Homewood Science 
  Center in August 2017 
  to learn about and safely 
  observe the solar eclipse. 

  (Chronicle file photo)
Almost 9,000 people and 500 families participated in one of the center’s programs, according to the report. Its signature program, PopUp SCIENCE, has drawn nearly 5,500 people for the free hands-on science learning experiences for the whole family. Topics has been as varied as learning about metals, recycling and a bubble bash.

“We have built a strong team and we continue to build the Homewood Science Center into an organization that not only has regional significance but we expect it to have national significance,” Dobrez said. 
The science center, at 18022 Dixie Highway, is “designed for people of all ages, encourages intergenerational and lifelong learning, stimulates curiosity and inspires people to make science and technology a greater part of their lives,” according to the center’s website. 

It hosts field trips for school children, camps, classes, project internships and professional development. Dozens of families gathered at the center for the 2017 solar eclipse. There were hands-on projects for kids and adults watched a video feed from NASA.

“We’re trying to cultivate innovation among our citizens, especially our young people,” Dobrez said. 

But activities aren't limited to Homewood and Flossmoor residents. More than 1,300 school children from throughout the South Suburbs came to the science center for a field trip about roller coasters. They learn about Homewood's John Miller, considered the father of the modern roller coaster, and put science principles to work while creating their own roller coaster models.

Dobrez singled out the Girls STEAM Ahead program, which supports girls exploring the study of and careers in science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM). The program involved 91 students who came from 13 school districts. The event allowed them to interact with 48 professionals in various fields.

Dobrez said donations are essential for the center, and thanked the village of Homewood for its continued support, Del Mar Builders for work renovating space for staff offices and the family and friends of Michael Wexler for their generosity that helped create the Michael Wexler Theater installation. 

“Without the village of Homewood, there is not a Homewood Science Center,” Dobrez said. “But what we’re working for is a mixed revenue model. We’re looking for general contributions, as well.” 

The center’s expenses totaled $323,782. 

Mayor Richard Hofeld stressed the village's support for the science center. Trustees applauded Dobrez and her staff for their work. Hofeld said he believes the science center is offering varied programs that are attracting young people.