Informal science education, especially science and technology centers, can play an essential role in attempts to promote public awareness…of basic research.” Ernst Malamud
In 1982, Dr. Ernest Malamud took a leave of absence from Fermi to work at the Exploratorium in San Francisco. He returned to the Midwest enthused. “Too many grownups fear science because they have never experienced it. An Exploratorium lets individuals work with science and participate in projects, reducing their fear of it.”
Dr. Malamud convened an international council to construct a science center open to all. A committee of experts from France, England, and Russia advised government scientists and enterprises in the Illinois Research and Development Corridor. SCITECH Hands-On Museum was incorporated in DuPage County on September 12, 1988. In 1989, the exhibits were temporarily housed.
Fred Barofsky and Tom McWilliams gave the Iroquois Center in Naperville 7,000 square feet for a year. It was named “The Dream Becoming Reality,” but Malamud had more grand plans. SciTech needed to quadruple in size to become a “museum” with admission.
Aurora, IL, also home to our very own Galron sliding and patio door repair Aurora firm, purchased a historic post office to help rejuvenate the downtown area. An editorial by Marie Wilkinson said “As a founding member of SciTech, we now have this center in Aurora. It’s like a miracle in our downtown… For the former post office.”
On January 16, 1990, the Aurora City Council approved the lease 7-1. Between January and June, the building received almost $150,000 in upgrades and repairs. A & H Painting, Heitkotter, Inc., Bohr Roofing, Supreme Millwork, Michaels Lumber Co., Garbe Iron Works, Valley Contractor, and Omega Wrecking all provided labor and materials.
SciTech Hands-On Science Center opened with 60 displays on June 16, 1990. Unlike the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, there was no neon or Lucite. “We’re not glam,” said marketing coordinator Victoria Fox. “Science first.”
Since the doors opened, many major improvements and renovations have occurred. The first “Doppler Baseball” and “Hot Air Balloon” exhibit opened in 1992. It began in 1993. In 1996, the Stoner Family sponsored a new SciTech favorite, the Harmonograph.
New exhibitions necessitated extra room. In 1997, work began on the building’s basement. Grainger, Caterpillar, and Malamud classrooms were remodeled to house several labs and activities. SciTech added programs and increased school outreach.
Ronen Mir became ED in 2000. Major capital upgrades in 2000. Now with central air, and a closed and paved parking lot behind it. The outdoor park received five big displays over two years. We also created smaller exhibits like the Lithophone and Listening Chamber.
Built-in 2004, a mezzanine allows classroom presentations. The 2007 recession hit the new museum hard. Many founders retired, financing decreased, and concerns mounted. In 2009, the museum made all employees part-time or volunteers. Many of the projected SciTech amenities, such as a planetarium, never materialized.
2010 – 2019
SciTech expanded in 2011 after a slow start in 2010. The outdoor science park reopened to the public. Wi-Fi and a new gift shop Exhibits “Shrinking Room” and “Biblical Tech” opened.
Dr. Malamud started his SciTech venture years before anyone else. The STEM acronym was first used in 2001 by scientists at the US National Science Foundation (NSF).
The SciTech Discovery Preschool was the country’s second STEM-based preschool. The Dunham Foundation funded the preschool, which focused on children’s innate curiosity. “I’ve never met a preschooler who doesn’t love science,” said director Cheryl Newman.
In 2013, Arlene Hawks became SciTech’s Executive Director. East Aurora High School’s famed theatrical instructor transformed the museum’s regional destination. Slowly, the museum’s staff grew and reconnected with former collaborators.
Recycling and ComEd’s Energy Savings are now part of the SciTech Hands-On Museum collection. Tablets and digital displays became popular. After her husband’s heart attack, Arlene Hawks created several health-related displays. It was deployed in 2016. This game came out in 2017.
Others were reimagined and relocated. Downstairs, Space Travel and Ancient Times were immersive experiences. A JPL grant supported a new STEAM Computer Lab. Color Crush was implemented. Explore topography with Google Earth and the AR Sandbox. Santori Streams is a new water feature in the park. Imagination Playground inspired kids to investigate engineering. The world had caught up to Malamud’s dream: STEM careers were hot. Over 6 million Americans work in STEM fields.
In 2016, RISD President John Maeda led a countrywide effort to add an “A” for arts to the acronym STEM. Design thinking and creativity, he argued, are necessary for innovation. SciTech Hands-On Museum’s niche market shrank as STEM became STEAM. Enrollment dropped at SciTech Academy as additional preschools offered the curriculum. Hawks stated that SciTech was “no longer exclusive” in 2017. The SciTech board chose a museum expansion. The 2017 preschool class was the final.
The next year, SciTech Hands-On Museum turned 30. Also in 2018, the Life Sciences area got a bearded dragon. The 1500 square foot flex room has held traveling exhibits, and conferences, and provides convenient access to STEAM Stops: short lab experiences offered to customers on Saturdays and school holidays.
In 2019, Fox River debuted. New tables and umbrellas at Fox Motion Park. We’d add a new Bubble Blast component. The museum’s operations director, Camille Coller, says it’s time to compete as a family destination.
Here and Now
The entire museum was re-envisioned. Ideas came from community people and schools. On the drawing board: The SciTech Hands-On Museum has grown into a community hub where people of all ages can learn about STEM subjects via imaginative, interactive activities and educational programs.
As we enter a new decade, SciTech Hands-On Museum asks YOU to join the tale. Also, call us at Call Aurora Public Library, also located in Aurora, IL. Furthermore, or visit our site now for any questions about your sliding doors or learn about get in touch with a sliding glass door company near me to get your sliding doors repaired or replaced. Refer to our website for more about Aurora, IL, and The Two Brothers Roundhouse.