Hands-on learning awaits...

By Dr. Steve Feldman

Happy 50th Anniversary Sciworks! As a long-time SciWorks board member and former adjunct faculty member for the science center, it is such a pleasure to recognize an important milestone for this extraordinary institution in our community. SciWorks is a place that has dedicated five decades to sparking visitors’ scientific interest and making learning fun in Winston-Salem.

At the time of SciiWorks’ inception as the Nature Science Center, few could have foreseen how the science center and our greater Forsyth County community would change. It was the 1960s, and we were a community dominated by tobacco and textiles. Today, we are a diversified community with vibrant programs focused on the arts and sciences, and an economy focused on health care and technological innovation.

As a physician-scientist who has lived and worked in Winston-Salem since the early 90s, my interest naturally gravitated toward the local science center. My wife and I often explored the museum as adults on a “date.” Originally from Washington, D.C., I was intrigued by the stories many of the “home-grown” scientists with whom I worked would tell about their school field trips and weekend outings to SciWorks, and they credited the museum with helping them gain an appreciation of science that influenced their choice of career.

When my wife and I had children, we became SciWorks members, and SciWorks became a regular Saturday-afternoon destination for learning, exploring or just enjoying each other’s time together as a family. How wonderful that a mid-sized city in the 1990s had such an exciting museum and environmental park for families to visit! There were always many things my very busy boys loved to explore — from giant bubbles and race cars to planetarium shows and mazes, as well as puzzles, music, and animals big and small. Traveling exhibits always brought something fresh and new to SciWorks, and we loved everything from getting up close to giant animatronic dinosaurs to meeting astronauts and seeing a Mars Rover. The Vacuum Chair in PhysicsWorks was an entertaining favorite among my crowd, as were the simplest interactive exhibits, such as watching an electric current form an arc of lightning,

I joined the board of SciWorks in 2004 and have watched as the science center evolved along with the community, weathered the economic downturn and currently undergoes a transformation under visionary leadership. As a community, we realize that science education and informal science experiences are crucial to the future of our children. A strong vibrant science center with a staff devoted to science education and a visionary leader complements the educational activities of our school system and the job prospects of our future economy.

As SciWorks celebrates its extraordinary 50-year history, it is poised to take another leap forward in providing our children the kind of entertaining, interactive science learning experiences that embody scientific discovery — giving children not just knowledge of science but an appreciation for what the scientific method ultimately entails. This science center is a jewel in the Winston-Salem community; with strong support across all sectors — business, education and community — it will continue to shine for another 50 years.

And without a doubt, a visit to SciWorks is simply one of the most fun ways to spend the day together with the kids.

Steven R. Feldman, M.D., Ph.D., is a professor of dermatology, pathology, and public health sciences at Wake Forest Baptist Health.