And the Award Goes to... Our Unique Building

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The Science Mill was recently selected as a recipient of a 2018 AIA Minneapolis Merit Award. The award recognizes projects that tell a story of excellence beyond design; emphasize public interest design; and embrace the varied forces that shape a building.

The Science Mill, which opened in 2015, re-imagines a community landmark – a historic feed mill built in 1880 as a steam gristmill and cotton gin – into a gathering place for the community and a forum for science exploration. Tom DeAngelo, FAIA, LEED AP, principal at Alliiance, a firm based in Minneapolis, led the architectural design of the nonprofit museum. 

“We are thrilled to receive this award. It recognizes our belief that the museum needed to be a  part of the existing community”  says Science Mill founder and president Bonnie Baskin, who moved to Johnson City from Minneapolis in 2011 with her husband Bob Elde. 

The Science Mill’s architectural design involved retaining and renovating the original mill buildings and grain silos, which now house cutting-edge, interactive science exhibits. A new addition near the center of the site and the southern end of the historic mill created a nexus that physically links the separate buildings together to create an environment for science discovery. 

“The design was conceived not as a contrast between new and old but as the dynamic evolution of the mill from a place of industrial production to a place that can produce science leaders for a new generation,” says architect Tom DeAngelo.

In addition to the Merit Award, the Science Mill received the honor of being selected for the 2018 Michael L. Schrock Award of Distinction, an additional honor awarded to the project that most embodies Michael's 7 Rules of Architecture:

1.    Know where you are from.

2.    Know who you are.

3.    Know why you are.

4.    Respect your benefactors.

5.    Honor the environment.

6.    Architecture must serve those who occupy it.

7.  There is beauty in functional, economical, safe, environmentally responsible, owner-driven architecture.

Zip Away to Summer!

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Before you and your students head to the theme park on your summer vacation, discover how engineers employ key physics concepts, like gravity, friction, inertia, mass, slope and force to design and create thrilling rides. With just a few affordable, easy to find materials, students can build functional zip lines for their ping-pong ball passengers!

Click here for the Science Mill's scalable K-12 curriculum for a Zip Away activity based on this project from PBS Kids.

Science Mill Donors Help Students Dream Big in STEM

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Dream big.  Those two words hold such great promise. But how can students, especially those in rural communities, connect the dots between dreaming big and a successful career?   

Fortunately, the Science Mill museum which opened in Johnson City in 2015, is inspiring more and more students living in small Texas Hill Country towns to see themselves as part of a 21st century workforce in science, technology, engineering, and math.  

And generous donors are stepping up to make sure under-privileged students in the Hill Country have access to the out-of-school STEM enrichment offered by the Science Mill through field trips, STEM immersion camps and visits to the museum.

In the spirit of paying-it-forward, one such donor, Charlie Shaw along with his wife Mary, recently made it possible for 10 area families to each receive a free one-year membership at the Science Mill. Charlie knows from personal experience what a difference a science center can make to an impoverished child.  Growing up in Gulfport, FL, in the 1960s with limited resources, he attended classes after school and summers at the local science center. 

“I’ve been interested in batteries and light bulbs as long as I can remember.  My father used to say I learned to read by studying mail order electronics catalogs,” Shaw said. “I studied electronics at our science center for three years while I was in elementary school and then continued taking classes there through high school.”

Shaw said the Science Mill reminds him of the science center that helped set him on the path to becoming a scientist. “The Science Mill is a teaching science center. An emphasis on special programs with expert presenters sets it apart.  Staff members who assist visitors are well trained and knowledgeable too.”

Today, Charlie is a successful master fabricator and his company, CW Shaw, Inc., has fabricated and provided design expertise for many large-scale, award-winning, internationally recognized projects. His company built the Race Track exhibit, the Giant Lever exhibit, the Create an Explosion exhibit and the Sailboat exhibit for the Science Mill.

To help more students dream big in STEM through a donation, please contact Holly Barton, Director of Operations at the Science Mill by calling 844-263-6405, extension 1002 or at holly.barton@sciencemill.org. The Science Mill is located at 101 S Ladybird Lane in Johnson City, Texas.

Science Mill Awards First Scholarships to Local Graduates

 (L to R) Science Mill Co-founder Robert Elde, Alexis McDougal, Hailey Bickley, Science Mill Co-founder Bonnie Baskin

(L to R) Science Mill Co-founder Robert Elde, Alexis McDougal, Hailey Bickley, Science Mill Co-founder Bonnie Baskin

Johnson City seniors Hailey Bickley and Alexis McDougal are the first recipients of the Science Mill’s new student employee scholarship program. They were each awarded a $500 scholarship to be used towards their post-secondary education as a reward for their outstanding work at the museum.

Science Mill Co-founder Bonnie Baskin said the Science Mill not only inspires students who visit the museum to pursue a future in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), it also influences the high school students who work at the museum.

“One of the first students we hired decided to study forensics because of his experience at the Science Mill,” she said.  “To encourage more of our student employees to pursue careers in STEM, we launched a scholarship program for them this spring.”  

Scholarship recipient Hailey Bickley, who started at the Science Museum last June, said her work experience in the BioLab has her thinking about a possible future in marine biology. “It’s my favorite place to be at the Science Mill,” she said. “I was so excited to see Xotica, one of our axolotls, lay eggs on Mother’s Day. It was a first, as the axolotls have been laying eggs when no one’s around.”

The Science Mill has also expanded Hailey’s geographic horizons. “People from all over the world visit the Science Mill,” she said. “That’s been a big cultural splash for me, having grown up in Johnson City.”  She added that it’s fascinating to hear her explanations translated into different languages by members within a group or family.

Alexis McDougal, who also received a scholarship, said that she applied for a job last fall at the Science Mill because she likes working with children. As one of the museum “Explainers,” her role has been to answer questions about the more than 50 plus exhibits and sometimes give museum tours.

She said her favorite thing about working at the museum has been learning lots of new things and teaching them to other people.  “I would encourage other students to work at the Science Mill.  Not only have I learned a lot of information, I’ve learned good customer service skills.”

Alexis said she’ll miss the friendly staff and the museum environment when she leaves for college soon.  “Working at the Science Mill has been a great experience for me and I’m sad that my time there will be coming to an end shortly,” she said.

To learn more about Science Mill student employee or scholarship opportunities, please contact Holly Barton, Director of Operations at the Science Mill by calling 844-263-6405, extension 1002 or at holly.barton@sciencemill.org. The Science Mill is located at 101 S Ladybird Lane in Johnson City, Texas.