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Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018

Sci-Port Discovery Center Progress

SciPort

Work continues to re-open all areas of the learning facility

“There are some things in this area that are just too important to lose.” That is how the new Sci-Port executive director, Dianne Clark, feels about the Sci-Port Discovery Center. Since joining the organization in August, Dianne has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for the re-organization and re-opening of the center.

According to Clark, “The mission of Sci-Port has not changed. As we work to re-open and re-design the Space Center, we are committed to providing an engaged learning educational experience for all ages.” Clark realizes the public has heard a lot of confusing, and often negative, reports about Sci-Port, and she wants everyone to know that the center is back on track to become a premier science “experience” rather than merely a museum.

Customized, engaged learning activities are the key components that separate Sci-Port from other museums. The staff is highly qualified and trained to be able to explain the science behind the exhibits and demonstrations. A unique aspect is that Sci-Port develops programming which complements K-12 education by providing exciting hands-on programs that are aligned with Louisiana state science and math standards.

Sci-Port Discovery Center is located on the downtown Shreveport riverfront. Its mission is to provide a fun, educational environment for people of all ages to explore and actively engage in the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Sci- Port serves to spark curiosity about the world around us, provides hands-on tools for using scientific discovery in everyday life and encourages a passion for life-long learning. After nearly 20 years of existence, Sci-Port has served over three million visitors through in-center exhibits and programming. In addition, Sci-Port has sponsored and provided teacher workshops, special initiatives and outreach activities. In the fall of 2017, Sci-Port underwent the first of two attempts to restructure and re-organize the operations and administrative control.

The center has re-opened in stages, starting with the Power of Play Children’s Museum (March 2018) and the IMAX Dome Theater (April 2018). In July of 2018 a new entity, Red River STEM Inc., was formed to serve as the administrative agency. On Aug. 1, the entity entered into a separate Cooperative Endeavor Agreement (“CEA”) with the city of Shreveport. RRSTEM presently has an eight-member board of directors with one non-voting member representing the Caddo Parish School Board. Until RRSTEM’s Section 501(c) (3) application is approved, the Community Foundation of North Louisiana will serve as its fiscal sponsor, allowing all donations and contributions to RRSTEM to be received by the foundation but designated for RRSTEM (Sci-Port).

In addition to having highly qualified staff, the 92,000-square-foot center is a community resource for science information. Clark understands the importance of getting the entire center re-opened and focused on its mission. On Oct. 18, the planetarium and the first floor of the Space Center will re-open to the public. The first floor will host several nostalgic exhibits and the SWEPCO demonstration lab. A multitude of demonstrations and shows in the planetarium will be scheduled throughout each day and will be included free of charge as part of the general admission fee. Clark is hopeful that the re-opening will draw in new and old friends of Sci-Port. She hopes that young adults who visited the center as children will return with their children and friends to rediscover all that the Sci-Port Discovery Center has to offer.

Sci-Port has more to offer than exhibit space. It houses the only IMAX dome theater in Louisiana. Two movies, “Journey to the South Pacific” and “Pandas,” are currently showing. By the end of October, a series of family and adult-themed weekend IMAX Dome movie events will be available. In addition to the IMAX Dome, Sci-Port has a café scheduled to be leased and re-opened by mid-October. With the addition of food service, Clark plans to lease event space in the second floor solarium and on the rooftop.

Discussions are also underway to identify a business interested in leasing the gift shop area. Parents attending birthday parties at Sci- Port would have the luxury of pre-shopping and having birthday gifts wrapped and delivered to the upstairs party areas.

With 92,000 square feet of space, Sci-Port has its challenges. The remaining portion of the first floor and the second floor of the space center will continue to be closed for cleanup and renovation; however, Clark’s goal is to have these areas open by mid-year 2019. New exhibits will be required. It will take some time to develop a stable revenue stream and a strong donor base, but in time, Clark believes this is possible.

When the center was closed last September, a decision was made to honor all paid memberships. Sci-Port has continued to honor all memberships and will do so through the end of this year. As a result of the re-opening of the planetarium and space center, the admission pricing will change on Oct. 18. A single general admission price of $12 per person will be charged, which will include entry to POP (age appropriate) and the Space Center/Planetarium. The IMAX Dome admission price will remain $12 per person and will not be included in the general admission pricing.

In an effort to thank our supporters, a 10-admission, transferrable punch pass for $100 will be available for purchase. The general admission pass will include admission to all areas except the IMAX Dome and will result in a $20 savings to our customers. The pass will be valid through Dec. 31, 2018. As of Jan. 1, 2019, new membership pricing will be available to the public. While the pricing of these memberships is not yet final, the public can expect these to go on sale in November – in plenty of time for Christmas gift purchases.

Dianne Morrison Clark moved to Haughton as a child in 1966. She spent almost 30 years in technical education and accepted the executive director position at Sci-Port in August of this year. She can be reached at 318-347-6762 or email to: sciport ED@sciport.com.

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