Help SPI Make a Special Space at the Wright Center
Capital Campaign Recognized Giving Levels
Viking- $250 Pathfinder- $500 Curiosity- $1,000 Explorer- $2,500 Deep Impact- $5,000 New Horizons- $10,000 Voyager- $25,000+
Donate online using the donate button below, stop in to SPI, or mail your check to SPI at: 400 S. Main Street | Mount Vernon, OH 43050 You may download and send in the commitment letter to make your pledge Please contact Rachel Garcia at SPIConnection@gmail.com for naming opportunities still available.
How much money is needed? We are 75% of the way there and we are still looking to raise $135,000 to finish it off (Yes, this number changed- some cost estimates increased)
What is all that money for? Kenyon is renovating the whole Buckeye building to a certain level and they are helping us with some aspects of the renovation. Major costs that exceed Kenyon's allowance are mainly for special flooring and lighting. The rest of the cost is for design and implementation of the climber, furniture, storage, specialized spaces and equipment suitable for families and science exploration.
How will donors be recognized? A hexagonal plaque on our donor wall (see conceptual drawing above) will recognize donors starting at the $250 level. Some areas will be named for their sponsors. Smaller donors will be recognized in our annual report and website.
Why should I donate?
Make our community a great place to live and to visit.
You love coming to SPI and SPI's work in the community.
Honor a loved one
Give children and families an enriching space to meet, play, and learn
Support academic engagement in our community
Provide new opportunities for curiosity and inspiration to flourish
Honor local history- we have maintained some historical features of the space
Giving is often more meaningful than receiving
Make a difference
A personal reason...
SPI is Moving: Short FAQ
When? SPI is now at its new location in the Kenyon College Wright Center though the inside space is not yet complete. Construction will continue until the inside of our space is finished.
What will be different?
Our new discovery space is almost double the area of our previous location
A climber and catwalk are prominently featured for the more active visitors.
A new physics exhibit will allow visitors to experiment with flight, electromagnetism, circuits and bottle rockets.
There will be an enclosed early childhood area for the youngest visitors (Enchanted Forest)
A darkened room to play with light
Special space for older visitors
Discovery Lab/programming space is integrated with the rest of our space and more!
Will the price stay the same? Yes and No. Yearly Family Membership with ASTC Passport Program benefits will continue at $100/year. Daily and monthly admission has increased and will be charged on a per person basis. All previously purchased memberships will be honored.
The Longer Proposal: A New and Improved SPI in the Kenyon College Wright Center (Buckeye Building)
Introduction We began the Science Play-Space Initiative (SPI Spot) in 2011 to create a non-profit community play-space with a focus on science and technology. In just five years, SPI Spot has progressed from a simple idea to a full-fledged institution with visitors and outreach programming exceeding 10,000 people a year.
SPI serves a variety of family and community needs, and is conceived as a STREAM space. In addition to (SPI’s) STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Math) focus, SPI also values R for relationships and A for arts. Adding the Relationships and Arts components to the STEM paradigm has been integral to our operations. SPI is a community-oriented space that encourages intergenerational and community relationships, and we are careful to include creative, artistic components in our activities and exhibits. Additionally, SPI welcomes and initiates partnerships (and) collaborations with many organizations in our community that are involved with youth, STEM, and the arts, as noted in the appended table of our history.
SPI is unique to our area and relatively rare in the field of science centers and children’s museums. Its small, rural population base cannot, by admission fees alone, support the level of service provided by larger institutions with larger and more wealthy populations. SPI is operated by a small staff of part-time, qualified employees who are committed to our mission. They are supported by our volunteer board and other volunteers from the community.
SPI keeps its admission, programming, and other fees as low as possible to attract the widest variety of participants and make its programs and activities accessible to all. In 2015, 30% of our visitors attended during monthly free admission times. To support this financial structure, SPI has leveraged local collaboration, local donors, national organizations, and grants to grow and flourish, providing services that are the envy of some out of town visitors who ask how they could get such an institution in their community.
Why is SPI’s approach important in our community? SPI is a place where Science and Play Intersect. There is a great deal of research supporting the value of informal science experiences for learning and of the importance of play for cognitive, emotional and social development. Visitors to science museums have increased motivation for learning and increased interest in science and technology. Discovery spaces help develop the capacity for learning by engaging visitors in ways that are enjoyable. Hands-on and informal contexts improve creativity and the grasp of concepts and skills. Play is a primary vehicle for child development and learning, and brings about the development of physical, social and even cognitive skills.
In light of these findings, modern science museums have become more hands-on, playful, and geared more toward younger audiences; children’s museums have moved to incorporate more STEM activities. SPI functions as both types of museum by embracing play as a means for supporting development of children and by fostering science appreciation and understanding. Because children are natural scientists, exploring and imagining their environment, children find playing in educational environments highly engaging and fun. Through play and exploration of natural phenomena they gain an experience with the laws of nature and are better prepared for formal science education. They also learn by collaborating with others and by experimenting with new materials and situations that they find at SPI.
The type of thinking required to develop technology depends on creativity and the ability to imagine a solution- or even discover the problem. In play, children imagine the world as it could be rather than as it is, and they learn to explore possibilities. Because the main activity at SPI is play, there is time for visitors of all ages to become comfortable and familiar with scientific methods in a no-stakes setting which is supportive of creativity. Visitors are not worried about getting the “right” results or breaking expensive equipment.
Significant hands-on science experiences in everyday life outside the classroom are a great advantage for local employment and careers in STEM for our children. The majority of local jobs are located in medical and educational institutions, technology-based companies such as Ariel and Siemens, and smaller tech-reliant businesses such as Replex. Many of these jobs require advanced science skills. Children who have science experiences when they are young become interested in science, and will grow to be adults who can work in scientific and technologically advanced fields. SPI also aims to explore science with adults through their children as well as introduce new cutting edge topics to adults such as Nanodays (2015) and Synthetic Biology events and forum coming in the fall of 2016.
New Opportunity Although some of SPI's exhibits are still under construction, SPI is already much improved in our new space at the Kenyon College Wright Center (Buckeye Building). This partnership with Kenyon College improves our financial stability, and also provides a location that is well-suited for a more convenient and enriching collaboration with Kenyon and other organizations in the community. This includes Kenyon's new Office of Community Engagement which is housed on the same floor as SPI. Increased collaboration with MTVarts via Blackberry Alley will also be facilitated by this location.
New Space SPI’s previous location included a well arranged assortment of hands-on educational toys and science equipment that accommodated multiaged families as best it could, and some programming for older children, in two disconnected rented storefronts that do not fit modern codes for accessibility. Our new space in the Wright Center is an exciting improvement: this space is designed for families, young children, and STEM activities as well as being an aesthetically pleasant place with features designed to improve accessibility, comfort and safety.
Modern accessible family restroom facilities
Active play zone includes a Wandering Bridge climbing structure with a catwalk, soon to have a climbing wall, and a mini amphitheater that also serves as a gathering place for storytime and science demonstrations. The active play structures will be carefully designed for safety and versatility by experienced designers of this type of equipment. This area allows a much more creative and engaging safe active play and serves a much larger age range than our previous space.
Phenomenal Physics Field has a modern science museum exhibit from Flexhibits. These physics interactives begin with four hands-on open ended experiments: launching different types of Air Rockets, a Vertical Flier where participants try to see what will float up in moving air current, a Circuit Bench, and a Ring Launcher to experiment with electromagnetism. These interactives demonstrate physics principles in a way that is engaging for younger and older audiences as well as teaching scientific principles and practicing experimental methods.
Enchanted Forest early childhood area will be an immersive enclosed environment for play in an area geared for children under six years old and appropriate for children under three without choking hazards present.
Imagination It! pretend play area with new costumes and props will provide the perfect place for children and their adults to use their imagination and exercise their creativity.
Make it! area will have the marks of a maker space with building, craft, and engineering materials for STEM based projects to foster the creative genius in all of us.
Sensory Zone will cater to sensory fine motor activity learning, especially in young children, to explore, and feel substances and objects and how they interact. This area will be used for water, kinetic sand, and other sensory materials.
Think Tank Tech studio construction is in progress and is a room dedicated to older children that includes a collaborative area appropriate for more sophisticated STEM building projects. This space may hold projects which evolve over time and remain in the space across several visits, rather than facilitate temporary creations. It will have projects that older children and adolescents can work on independently from adult assistance, but collaboratively with each other if they wish. This space for older children and adolescents will support the social interaction which is so important to adolescent development.
Light Lab will be a dark room designed to allow visitors to experiment with objects and light in a dark environment. It will be flexible enough to allow for changing exhibits or activities with light such as constellations, explorations with shadows, a light table or light bright.
The Reading Nook will be its own special corner providing a quiet contemplative space with books and comfortable seating.
Historical Preservation We have preserved the large produce scale from the original building in our Observe It! areawhere visitors can become familiar with scientific tools by making measurements with scientific equipment. The area will be better designed for children of all ages to try out various ways of weighing, measuring, and observing their environment.
More significantly, our design plans have preserved the layout, flooring, large wooden cabinetry, and curved wall at the front of the building that formerly served as the office reception area. This area will include our Discovery Lab- much like a flexible classroom- and preparation space that will include work space and necessary appliances. The Discovery Lab will be light and bright with its large western-exposure windows facing Main Street and will be outfitted with technology appropriate for teaching, demonstrations, and experiments.
SPI has remained in and embraced our downtown location with an explicit commitment to facilitate downtown revitalization. We are excited to be part of the renovation of the Buckeye Candy Building and remain downtown long-term. We envision a continuing presence at First Friday and other Heritage Center Association (HCA) events, as well as being an anchor that ties Ariel-Foundation Park to our historic downtown, facilitating movement between the venues.
SPI will continue to improve as a resource that provides, helps coordinate, and publicizes STEM and family related programming in our community. We also continue to facilitate making connections between STEM and other fields such as performing arts.
Impact of your Gift We need your support to help SPI fulfill its potential to serve Knox County in the best way possible in our new space and make a positive difference in our community. The new SPI in the Wright Center will meet the needs of developing children and their families better, with a more comfortable, pleasing, safer and accessible space that is more appealing to a wider age range. Our new space will make a real difference in our community through more learning readiness, a more educated and informed community, improved community connections, and a wonderful attraction for returning and new visitors.