Compared to other countries, the United States’ progress in math and science is slowing down. Fewer people are studying technical fields. The Lancaster Science Factory, along with science centers across the country, is playing a role in renewing interest in math, science, technology, and engineering.
James Bunting, a retired advertising executive, was inspired by a science center he visited in Florida. He founded the Science Factory with goals to increase children’s interests in math and science, provide an interactive learning environment outside the classroom, and be accessible to all local youth in Lancaster County.
After several years of planning and a $1 million capital campaign, the Science Factory opened on January 22, 2008. Volunteers completed most of the start-up work, from graphic design and accounting to exhibit research and Science Factory promotion. The Science Factory now has a small staff but continues to rely on a vibrant volunteer corps to greet visitors, answer questions about exhibits, keep exhibits in working order, and help with special events.
Today, the Science Factory houses over 65 hands-on exhibits, and hosts a wide variety of educational programs, workshops, and events throughout the year. The Science Cafe features daily hands-on experiments and demonstrations in a diner-like setting. The Science Factory is a member of the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC), an organization that links science centers and museums around the world.
The Science Factory is not only a part of the community – it serves the community. Grants from generous donors make the Science Factory accessible to youth groups and agencies throughout Lancaster County. All of the Science Factory’s exhibits align with Pennsylvania Academic Standards, and many schools visit the Science Factory on field trips throughout the year for experiments and demonstrations that cannot be done in the classroom.
The Science Factory enriches the Lancaster community by providing a unique space for visitors of all ages to explore scientific concepts through hands-on activities. In the future, the Science Factory hopes to grow its collection of excellent exhibits, continue educational programming, expand its volunteer base, and continue to serve the community.