Maui Science Center: A place for learning about science and technology
The Maui Science Center, a new nonprofit organization, has a mission to help familiarize members of the public with objects and ideas about science and technology. While still in its beginning stages, the project hopes to provide innovative hands-on, minds-on experiences that encourage curiosity and exploration.
The MSC philosophy is that learning flows most effectively from active participation in handling, observing and asking questions about phenomena.
“The science center is striving to become a leading self-sustained, family-centered destination for learning and recreation on Maui,” said Rimma Murta, founder and director of the MSC.
“We hope to promote science literacy and skills that are particularly important in the 21st century and showcase advances in Hawaii and abroad.”
While Maui County has many outreach programs that promote STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), they are not always easily accessible to the general public. MSC envisions a physical destination with interactive exhibits and programs.
“We intend to become an educational and social hub for existing programs as well,” Murta explained.
“Our plan is to establish and operate a dynamic and interactive learning space. Maui families, schools and special interest groups, as well as island visitors can come any time of the year to explore the hands-on experiences, informative programs, workshops and organized events.”
“A family visiting the science center might encounter exhibits on gravity, levers and pulleys, optics, space science, local ecology, energy, electronics and much more,” Murta noted.
The MSC will be rooted in the community, with most of the exhibits designed and built by local scientists, engineers, craftsmen and makers. Their aim is to educate people to better understand and evaluate their environment and the science behind it.
“To this end, the MSC plans to combine aspects of science and technology with industries and Hawaiian history and culture,” said Murta. “Hopefully, we will inspire curiosity and provide analytical tools for understanding an increasingly technical world – a place where learning and recreation harmoniously come together.”
The center’s plan is in three phases. Phase I is a Science Center on Wheels. “We want to introduce our concept to the public, potential partners and sponsors by bringing mobile science to various community events like math competitions, TEDx events, town parties, county fairs, schools and related organizations,” Murta said. “Currently, volunteers are working on our initial interactive exhibits to bring to those community events in the fall.”
Phase II, toward the end of 2015, will be finding a permanent location in donated or discounted space. Murta and the MSC Board of Directors hope to be ready to open when the right venue is found. In the meantime, they are building prototypes of the first exhibits, educational programs and workshops to prepare.
Phase III is the full-scale MSC. “We hope this will be a place in a centralized part of Maui with easy access for both Maui residents and island visitors,” Murta explained. “The core exhibits will address themes directly related to industries on Maui and throughout the state.”
The themes include astronomy, space surveillance, energy, sustainability, technology innovation (robotics, engineering, mathematics), natural science (agriculture, geology, weather), and explorers (for Pre-K to elementary audience). “We are hoping that industries will sponsor our exhibits and/or assist with educational programs,” Murta said.
With the rapidly growing population on Maui, many of them school-age children 5-18 years old, families will seek unique cultural and educational experiences. “MSC will fill this need in a dynamic, engaging and fun manner,” she said, noting MSC’s potential economic, personal and societal impact on the island.
“As a major new science institution, MSC will create new jobs and inspire a new generation of professionals in careers that benefit Maui,” Murta said. “MSC will be a community place built by the community.”
“We welcome new ideas, insights and expertise in the following areas: STEM curriculum development, program and exhibit planning, graphic design, video production, administrative assistance and others.”
“The County of Maui is in full support of the MSC and their efforts,” said Maui Mayor Alan Arakawa. “In order to improve our community, we must prepare our next generation, and what better way to do that than to promote science literacy, critical thinking and innovation. Their concept is very ambitious, and we look forward to working with them in the future.”
On July 21, Flatbread Company in Paia will host a benefit event for MSC from 5 to 10 p.m. Proceeds from pizza sales and any other funds raised will go toward design and building of interactive exhibits and educational programs.
“Fun, hands-on, mind-on activites, silent auction and more will be offered to the restaurant guests during the benefit event,” said Murta.
For more information, e-mail Info@MauiScienceCenter.com or call Murta at (808) 281-4691.