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Published: 11/11/2013 - Updated: 5 months ago

IMAGINATION STATION

Science Society backs Idea Lab

Attraction to be in downtown museum

BY VANESSA McCRAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Cathy Sheets, left, speaks with Sloan Mann, assistant director of S.T.E.M. education for the Imagination Station, about the Idea Lab. It is to be an interactive exhibit with space for a workshop. Cathy Sheets, left, speaks with Sloan Mann, assistant director of S.T.E.M. education for the Imagination Station, about the Idea Lab. It is to be an interactive exhibit with space for a workshop.
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A roughly $1 million exhibit and workshop space intended to spark ideas and prompt problem-solving will be built at Imagination Station, thanks to donations from the Science Society.

The society, formed about three years ago, has been raising funds by collecting annual dues — from a minimum of $2,500 up to $15,000 a year — from its members.

PHOTO GALLERY: Science Society

On Sunday, members of the society, which includes 96 families and businesses, voted on how to use some of the more than $1 million collected since the group’s inception.

The winning plan is called Idea Lab, which will feature hands-on learning opportunities in the fields of design, fabrication, electronics, and software engineering.

The 4,000 to 5,000-square-foot attraction will be built in the lower floor of the downtown science center. It’s estimated to cost between $900,000 and $930,000 and is set to open in about 15 months.

“To have support like this is tremendous, for their belief in science education and their belief and understanding about the capital improvements that need to be done to a facility like ours is outstanding,” said Lori Hauser, Imagination Station chief executive officer.

Science Society President Bob Savage, who also is a vice chairman on the Imagination Station Board of Directors, said the society has been saving its money to build a major attraction.

Bob Savage announces that the majority voted to fund the Idea Lab, which is designed to explore engineering and physics. The Science Society met at the home of Susan and Allan Block. Mr. Block is the chairman of Block Communications Inc. Bob Savage announces that the majority voted to fund the Idea Lab, which is designed to explore engineering and physics. The Science Society met at the home of Susan and Allan Block. Mr. Block is the chairman of Block Communications Inc.
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“The reality is what we are trying to do is get kids to love science and math,” he said, adding that the science center is especially important to serve those students without an educational mentor at home.

Members gathered to vote on three concepts Sunday at the Sylvania Township home of Susan and Allan Block. Mr. Block is chairman of Block Communications Inc., the parent company of The Blade.

Mr. Block traced his support of the science center to his father, the late Paul Block, Jr., who had a PhD in organic chemistry.

“He had a great interest in science … and if he were here today he would be delighted that there’s a science museum to excite children. He would fully support the idea of a science museum in Toledo,” Mr. Block said.

The Idea Lab concept captured 51 percent of the votes. A proposal to support traveling exhibits and other capital renovations came in second. A plan for a dinosaur-themed exhibit received the lowest number of votes.

The chosen proposal will allow visitors to work with contemporary technology such as 3D printers and new materials, said Carl Nelson, exhibits director and chief scientist.

He said visitors could get a chance to perform a range of exercises — from building and programming a vehicle made of Legos to working with computer-aided design tools, building a mobile phone app, or making robots out of spare parts.

“It’s more about the process — how people solve problems creatively, this whole idea of innovation, being an innovative thinker,” Mr. Nelson said.

Contact Vanessa McCray at: vmccray@theblade.com, or 419-724-6065, or on Twitter @vanmccray.



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