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Published: Thursday, 2/12/2009

Science center calculates plan for clever name

BY JC REINDL
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The science center formerly known as COSI is on track to reopen this fall but first, it needs a new name.

Organizers announced yesterday that until March 20 they are fielding suggestions.

During the kickoff event for the naming campaign, Robert Savage, chairman of the center's Create a Great Name Committee, said they welcome all name ideas but are especially interested in those from school-children.

"The Lucas County voters gave us new life last November, so it seems only fitting that we go out to the Lucas County voters and their children and ask them, 'What do you want it to be?' " Mr. Savage said in the gymnasium of Old Orchard Elementary School before an audience of more than 80 students and teachers.

He described the perfect name as one "that when you see it, you will smile and think of math and science."

Situated in downtown Toledo's former Portside, COSI closed because of budget constraints in December, 2007, after more than 10 years of operation. It was given new life last November when Lucas County voters approved a 0.17-mill, five-year levy after having turned down two previous requests.

Organizers jettisoned the COSI name soon after the levy vote and adopted the temporary moniker of Toledo Science Center.

The COSI name - originally an acronym for the Center of Science and Industry - is owned by the longer-established Columbus science museum. Officials there several years ago began pressuring Toledo to either drop the name or pay usage fees.

Columbus allowed Toledo to continue using the COSI name in the buildup to the levy votes for public familiarity, said David Waterman, chairman of the Toledo science center's board.

The center has remained closed as employees and board members update the facility and its exhibits. Mr. Savage said it is scheduled to reopen in the fall.

"We're going to have the best of COSI, and we're going to improve on it," he said.

The levy is expected to generate about $1.5 million annually, with admission fees covering the remaining majority of the center's projected $3.5 million operating budget, said Lori Hauser, director of operations. The budget anticipates at least 220,000 visitors a year, she said.

Passing the levy also unlocked $1 million in state funding for capital improvements.

As a reward for creativity, the science center plans to give a pizza party and an "Extreme Science" demonstration to two randomly selected school classrooms that demonstrate 100-percent participation in the campaign. There is an earlier Feb. 28 submission deadline to be eligible for the party, which is also open to students outside Lucas County.

And everyone who enters will receive an invitation to a science center "sneak peak."

A pair of technicians in orange lab coats had a treat for Old Orchard students at yesterday's kickoff: front row seats to a "rocket science show," complete with rainbow-colored flames and thunderous balloon explosions. The fiery spectacle sparked all sorts of ideas in the heads of Nita Randolph's third-grade students.

Eight-year-old Faith Wee said she thinks Science City would make a good name for the reopened center. Amiya Shaw, who is also 8 and wears dazzling pink and white beads in her hair, suggested KidsSI. And 9-year-old Shien Park thought FunSI would be really cool.

Name suggestions may be submitted online at toledosciencecenter.org; by e-mail at names@toledosciencecenter.org; via fax to "Naming Entry" at 419-255-2674, or by mailing "Naming Entry", 1 Discovery Way, Toledo, OH, 43604.

Contact JC Reindl at:

jreindl@theblade.com

or 419-724-6065.



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