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Thursday April 24th 2014

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Making Science Fun

For fans of Science Saturdays, a monthly program run by IHMC during the school year for kids in grades third to fifth, another science based program is underway.

“My experience with the demand for Science Saturdays, it has inspired the effort to begin exploring the feasibility of starting a science museum,” said Megan Pratt. “We started the organization to run this trial this summer. All of us are putting in countless volunteer hours (and will put in more over the summer) to pull this off.”

MESS Hall, an all-volunteer run program, which will be a science museum open to kids of all ages and their accompanying parents.

“There is no age criteria for admission, though kids should be accompanied by their parents or another responsible adult, and visitors can come whenever they like, as long as the museum is open,” Pratt said. “Most of the activities will appeal to kids in elementary and middle school. However, all ages will likely enjoy it – when we had the event at the art museum for gallery night, we had three-year-olds who spent half an hour hard at work on marble runs, and we had young military personnel who did the same thing.”

Before science can become a burden, it is important to engage students as early as possible.  And it’s also important to remind young girls that science can be fun too.

“It is good to try to engage kids at a younger age and pique their interest in science, statistics show that 60 percent of scientists knew they wanted to be scientists before the age of 11,” Pratt said. “I believe it is even more important for girls, to get their attention at a young age, before social pressures steer them away from studying further science.”

Since the museum will begin in the summer, it may be another way to entertain tourists.

“It adds to the range of things that a visitor can do here,” Pratt said. “And I think a science museum will also provide a great edu-tainment activity for families. The more fun a family has, the likelier they are to visit again.”

Building a better workforce by preparing students in math and science is an education priority. The MESS Hall will be a great tool for achieving those goals.

“Our community speaks continually about increasing the number of technology companies here,” Pratt said. “If our kids are well prepared in science and choose science careers, there should be good jobs here for them. By increasing the enthusiasm for studying science, however, we also create a scientifically literate community, a population that can understand complex science issues, whether global warming or DNA evidence, as informed citizens.”

Specific details such as location and hours of operation are still in the works. For more information about MESS Hall or to offer your help, contact Megan Pratt at m_b_pratt@yahoo.com.