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Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021

Sno-Port Drifts Back to Sci-Port


Science center strives to remain relevant

When Dianne Clark came on board at Sci-Port Discovery Center, she said the task was to revitalize the facility and move it forward.

“One of my goals was to make sure that everyone knew that Sci-Port is a community resource. The Shreveport Convention and Tourist Bureau’s Stacey Brown reached out and said, “Let’s figure out how we can help draw traffic downtown during the fourth quarter.”

That’s the time of year when the holidays present significant opportunities for tourism and boosting the local economy.

“That’s when the businesses [in the downtown area] really suffer,” Clark said. “Everyone goes to Natchitoches, or everyone goes to Marshall. And that’s how this really came about. We started trying to look for a way to drag holiday traffic and overnight stays into the downtown area.”

The first Sno-Port debuted in the winter of 2019. “We had snowball tosses and ice fishing and Lego ® tables, although the Lego ® appealed to the older adults,” Clark admitted.

Planning sessions were held to discuss how to keep Sci-Port relevant in an age of instant Internet access. “We talked about how we really needed to expand our reach a little bit and get an older population more involved. This year, we’ve brought in augmented reality because we realized we were [only] appealing to the very young.”

According to the event information, this year’s theme, “The Snow Factory,” will feature a storyline about the village of North Wind. Located near the North Pole, this very small village is populated by tiny gnomes called the Nanite Gnomes, and where they live, work and play. These tiny gnomes make snow for a living, and that process is part of the AR (Augmented Reality) Snow Box activity with which guests can interact. The activity uses digital map projections with software developed by the Digital Media Institute (DMI) specifically for Sno-Port.

Bonné Summers, co-owner of Apex Communications and Events, assisted in the design of the installation. She said the idea this year was to add some digital gaming elements to the established mix.

“We reached out to DMI to work with them on creating an augmented reality table. We had seen this at some other science centers.”

Clark said Sci-Port is trying to establish itself as a holiday destination. “This will be the third year [for Sno-Port], and it is an opportunity for families who are looking for ways to spend time together in an educational setting that’s not just fun, but it’s an opportunity to work with the youth. To build on that education. To teach them about some of the science behind snow. And that’s really been our premise all along. This isn’t just fun; it’s got to be educational. It is an interactive, sciencebased exhibit. Every activity within the exhibit is hands on,” Clark said.

She said, so far, the effort with Sno-Port has been successful, bringing in about $90,000 in revenue last year.

Clark said the opportunity existed to farm the project out to an out-of-town company that specializes in this sort of exhibit, but that was not their plan. “We use only local talent. We’ve been very particular about that. We have such a strong artistic culture in this area through the Shreveport Regional Arts Council, the Bossier Arts Council.”

Summers said the exhibit at Sno-Port is totally designed and constructed by local talent. “Another fun activity this year is the xylophone tree,” she said. “This is an interactive process where all the crystals built around this very contemporary snow tree make sound. It’s sound and touch reactive.”

Sno-Port will run from Friday, Nov. 26, through Feb. 27, 2022. There will be two special programs also offered during the run of Sno-Port. On Dec. 11, Elsa and Olaf will appear at Sno-Port, and on Dec. 18, the jolly old elf will be on hand for Cookies with Santa.

For more information and admission information, you can visit the Sno-Port Facebook event page or Sci-Port Discovery Center’s website at www.sciport.org.


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