Over the past thirty years or so, a
growing number of parents, teachers and community leaders have
realized the importance of hands-on and informal science education.
Informal learning “by doing” is often the most effective
way to gain practical skills and knowledge. Science museums have
often taken the lead on providing these experiences, many dedicating
their whole organization to this pursuit.
However, no such facility exists here
in Lompoc, despite the efforts of some very dedicated individuals.
Today, the need and desire for a local Science and Technology
learning center has never been greater.
The establishment of a place to learn
individually or collectively, using real tools and equipment, will go
a long way toward mitigating this deficiency in the mainstream
At maturity, the Center would have
indoor and outdoor areas devoted to several aspects of creating,
building and learning. A machine shop would be available for the
fabrication of parts in metal, plastic and wood, by users who have
been trained to safely and properly use the machines. Furniture would
include benches, chairs and storage for supplies and
works-in-progress. Modern equipment, such as laser cutters and 3D
printers, would be purchased or built on site. Volunteers would care
for and optimize the equipment, and could educate community members
on their use. Outdoors there would be a teaching garden, as well as
sheltered areas for larger projects.
Potential projects at the center might
Appropriate technology, and “lost”
Bicycle making and repairing;
Other human-powered vehicles
(perhaps some Parade Float Construction);
Carpentry and metalwork using hand
and power tools;
Jewelry making, casting;
3D printing of plastic parts, for
projects and as replacements for broken parts;
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (drone)
design and construction;
Physics and Chemistry projects;
Electronics and Robotics;
Astronomy – maybe some
telescope making and other optics projects;
Photography and Video, as a means
to document and share projects;
Urban Gardening, Water Systems,
Animal Husbandry – coop and
Home Economics (cooking, canning,
preserving, baking, sewing, home crafts);
Alternative Energy projects –
Windmills, Solar collectors, Heliostats;
Getting to this stage will obviously
take some time, and will require the support of the community. The
immediate need is for a suitable location with a secure building,
utilities, storage space and some workbenches and other furnishings.
An unused school building and surrounding grounds would be ideal.
The local school district (Lompoc Unified) might wish to partner with the
Center, and reap the educational benefits the resulting community of
hobbyists, designers, artisans, and makers would provide. The center
could host school groups during part of the day. A variety of hands-on
experiences could be provided, which might stimulate some students to
pursue their interests. "First Principles" could be emphasized, giving
kids a basis for understanding the real world. Ideally, students
could visit the facility for extended periods to work on individual
or group projects. Center staff and volunteers could help students with
their Science Fair projects, relieving the burden from busy parents. A
"drop off" arrangement could be set up, wherein the kids do science for
an afternoon each week.
Local manufacturing and agricultural businesses
will likely want to support this center, as it can impart
economically valuable skills to their employees, and the employees'
I have been interested in forming a
science museum / technology center for many years. My interest was
first sparked when I visited The Exploratorium in San Francisco, in
the early Eighties. At that time, the Exploratorium was a bit "rough
around the edges", but what it lacked in signage and graphics didn't
detract from the value of the exhibits. There was a ton of educational
value, and the exhibits were labors of love. It was obvious that the
exhibits had been designed according to the designer's personal
Over the years, I have enjoyed setting up hands-on science experiences
with kids. For a while I did a Saturday Science
program. I've also done Junk
Drawer Robotics through 4-H, and LEGO Robotics through a local
educational company. This website came from some of those experiences,
and the sheer fun of doing stuff!
I am hoping that I can do more of the same at my local level.
I welcome your comments and suggestions.
to send e-mail.
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