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Sci-Port: Louisiana's Science Center serves as model & partner for Bakersfield, CA science center
 
Published Wednesday, April 29, 2009
by Eric Gipson

Officials of Shreveport-based Sci-Port: LOUISIANA'S Science Center today announced a partnership in which the science center is serving as the primary model for a soon-to-break-ground children's science center in Bakersfield, CA, Bakersfield Adventures for the Mind (BAM).

The collaboration represents the latest honor for Sci-Port, which last fall was named one of America's 10-Best Science Centers by Parents Magazine. Sci-Port officials, in Baton Rouge to build support for a funding proposal at the State Senate and House's opening session, say such endorsements and partnerships further enable Sci-Port to have a positive impact on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education throughout the state.

"As part of the collaboration between Shreveport and Bakersfield, we're evaluating statewide STEM initiatives, with the overall goal of maximum improvement," said Ann Fumarolo, Sci-Port President & CEO. "Our mutual goal is to expand the concept of STEM education in the classroom."

Reflecting on how the Sci-Port-BAM partnership began when staff from the organizations met at the 2008 Association of Science and Technology Centers annual convention in Philadelphia, Jillian Fritch-Stump, who has spearheaded the effort to bring a state-of-art interactive children's museum to Bakersfield, said, "We quickly became aware that Sci-Port is one of the most innovative and successful science centers in the United States, with educational programming that rivals anything we have seen or read about. When we visited Sci-Port last February, we were impressed that the partnerships they have formed demonstrate strong community support. For example, the school district supports the educational outreach teacher who works with local educators to maximize the learning of students as they visit the center."

Since opening in November 1998, Sci-Port has served over 200,000 visitors a year with daily-changing public and school programs, IMAX films, exhibitions and community events-plus teacher workshops, camp-ins, birthday party programs, guest speakers and traveling science carnivals. Of these visitors, 80,000 per year have been students and teachers who have used Sci-Port as a curriculum-rich laboratory for maximizing student preparation for standardized assessment tests now required as part of No Child Left Behind.

School groups have come from as far away as Oklahoma for Sci-Port's unique and informal science education experience. Field trips, which include lunch package and educational IMAX film options, can be customized to meet specific classroom needs. All Sci-Port programs address science and math curriculum benchmarks.

Sci-Port's outreach programs, consisting of the Gee Whiz and Space Journeys traveling science carnivals, continue to visit schools, festivals and events throughout Louisiana. The program grew by over 500% in 2008, up from 3,170 people served in 2007. Also adding outreach miles were special programs for area libraries, Louisiana universities and the Caddo Juvenile Justice Center.

Bakersfield Adventures for the Mind is proposed as a 35,000 square-foot facility for children ages twelve and younger, their families and caregivers. Out of the approximately 350 children's museums worldwide, BAM will be the first children's museum to be located on a university campus, at California State University, Bakersfield (CSUB). As groundbreaking for the facility is planned to take place in the next four to six months, BAM staff and volunteers are conducting preliminary programs for children this summer, one of the first being Sci-Port's Itty Bitty Scientists series.

Fumarolo said an interesting facet of the collaboration is the similarity between BAM's and Sci-Port's communities, as Shreveport and Bakersfield mirror each other with size, industries of oil and agriculture, hospital systems and ratio of socioeconomic groups and cultures.

"Sci-Port and BAM represent a wonderful partnership and we hope this, combined with Sci-Port's proven 10-year track record of success and our being named as one of America's 10-Best Science Centers, will be seen by our Governor and Legislators as more evidence of our  potential to further serve the State of Louisiana."

Sci-Port is located at 820 Clyde Fant Parkway on the downtown Shreveport Riverfront. For general information call (318) 424-3466, toll-free (877) 724-7678 or see http://www.sciport.org/.


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Contact Info

Sci-Port Discovery Center
820 Clyde Fant Parkway
Shreveport, Louisiana 71101

 

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