Rockville Science Center Announces Major Community Outreach Initiative

By Cindy Cotte Griffiths, last updated 4/7/15 07:46am

  • Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton
    Photo credit: Cindy Cotte Griffiths
  • Tracy Dove and Soo Lee-Cho
    Photo credit: Cindy Cotte Griffiths
  • Montgomery County Councilman, Sidney Katz, Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton
    Photo credit: Joel Wishengrad
  • Tracy Dove
    Photo credit: Joel Wishengrad

Rockville Science Center 2.0: Imagine Our Future

The public is invited to six sessions to brainstorm and plan a science center.

Rockville Science Center Inc. (RSC) was established in 2009 with the goal of launching a vibrant science facility which will offer people of all ages and backgrounds the opportunity to explore the wonders of science and connect with the scientific community in our region. RSC announced a new initiative, Rockville Science Center 2.0: Imagine Our Future, to involve the members of the community in planning for a brick-and-mortar facility. Through a series of interactive community gatherings, the public is invited to develop an overall business plan and vision for a future home for the RSC.

RSC has extended an open invitation to scientists, doctors, entrepreneurs, researchers – tinkerers in their garages (most of the world’s best inventions have come from history’s version of the suburban garage) – teachers, concerned parents, interested children, accountants, architects, zoologists and Zumba enthusiasts to come to these brainstorming sessions for 1-2 hours on a Saturday morning.

Everyone is invited to attend as many of the Saturday sessions as possible scheduled for May 9, 30, June 13, 27, and July 11, 25 from 9 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. The first two on May 9th and May 30th will be held in the Carnation Room at the Rockville Senior Center (1150 Carnation Drive, Rockville). And yes, there will be coffee and donuts! Details of the subsequent sessions will be posted on our website.

Attendees will go beyond whiteboards and sticky notes by using the cutting-edge Group Map software to collect ideas. There will be several tables – each one with a different topic: Facility, Outreach, Finance, Human Resources, Content, and Programs. Participants will be encouraged to pick a table – or start their own! The Big Board up front will display in real time what each table is doing as the community puts together the 0’s and 1’s of the Center.

“Build it and they will come” are inspiring words to live by and RSC would like the community to envision the possibilities. For example, during the day the RSC could welcome schools; in the evening, rooms could be reserved for the community to hold discussions on current scientific topics; and the weekends could have workshops and traveling exhibits. Teachers, students, parents and kids could volunteer, and tech companies could engage with the community. Other examples include a genome specialist offering an interactive activity to show inheritance, a local restaurant owner instilling entrepreneurship in a community section, a tinkerer printing a 3D image of a prototype propeller, and a pilot devising a way to test an idea in a wind tunnel - all at the RSC.

RSC does not want to recreate the “don’t touch” model of learning. The RSC will have a didactic – even Socratic – method of teaching and learning based on what the community has been able to input. This would be a center of continuous learning with the goal of reinventing its content on a regular basis. RSC needs the community to build on these ideas to create the Center.

“People have been working for decades to realize a science center in the Rockville area and this is really our second chance at restarting the movement to get this done. Back in 2006 there was a feasibility study that was funded by the City of Rockville that really confirmed that there is a need and desire in this community to have a science center.” explained Board Trustee Soo Lee-Cho, “This is it. This is our second chance to restart this subject and really get in front of the elected officials a powerful message to actually realize the science center in my lifetime. I joined the Rockville Science Center when my son was just born and my goal was to have it up and running when he entered middle school. He is now seven years old so I am running out of time. This is our opportunity!”

Commenting about the initiative, Rockville Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton said, “Every year we get a little bit closer and a little bit closer to an actual brick-and-mortar building which I think is exactly what we need. All along the way every year the Science Center has gotten stronger and more engaged and bigger in terms of the people you are bringing in and the activities that you are providing. It's a huge asset to the City of Rockville and to the County at large.”

Tracy Dove, the volunteer who is coordinating the effort, was inspired to step up and lead, “I saw an article about a year ago that Rockville Science Center received a grant to build a brick-and-mortar science center and I said to myself, 'Well, that looks like a really interesting project', and I started to think about it and thought maybe I can do something.”

If you would like to do something to help, attend one of the upcoming sessions or volunteer to be trained on the Group Map software, please email Tracy Dove:

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