Families gathered at the Base Library Jan. 10, to see the grand opening of the STEM Science Discovery Center. The discovery center is sponsored by the Edwards AFB Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Program and offers a variety of activities to encourage children to learn about science.
Some of the materials include blocks for building geometric shapes, measuring and counting. There are life samples of animals and plants, life cycles of insects, magnets, rocks, minerals and fossils. To help observe the specimens, there are sets of magnifying glasses and literature on the various topics.
Due to limited space, only two of the discovery tables will be set out as permanent displays. The other materials, however, may be “carted out” upon request.
The idea for the project first came up mid-August after a visit from Mickey Bowen, 412th Test Wing, STEM outreach director, who offered a robotics demonstration during the Base Summer Reading Program. Bowen and Alison Vasquez, the library director, collaborated to create the discovery center.
“I have a background in science and used to be a science teacher in high school for six years,” said Vasquez. “I love science, so I immediately said we can have a small science center for the children to come to the library.”
Vasquez chose items with after school library-goers and homeschool families in mind.
“The families that homeschool children have to find activities for their children to learn and be equivalent to what they would learn at school. They may have to travel long distances to a museum. For science, there are some preserves and limited resources for children in the Antelope Valley. Now, they don’t have to travel, they can find resources right here.”
Col. Daniel Daetz, 412th Test Wing vice commander, was present to help Vasquez cut the ribbon during the grand opening ceremony.
“For me as a parent I rediscover things every day. We bought a snow globe and my wife said, ‘I wonder what’s in that.’ My daughter said, ‘oh that’s glycerin,’” said Daetz. He added that when he asked how his daughter knew that, she responded that she “reads about science.”
“We appreciate what you do here as families and let us run off to work. You do the hard job of raising kids and we want to make sure you have things to have fun with here on base. We really care about you all and this community we call Edwards,” said Daetz.
Col. Robert Hoff, 412th Mission Support Group commander, was also impressed with the discovery center.
“We’re a long way from any library and we’re a large community on the installation that uses these services. It’s important for us to maintain these services. STEM skills, we use that every day at the test wing. This is where you start, with kids that are knee-high-to-ground school, as we’d say in Texas. This is a great teamwork between Mickey Bowen and [Force Support Squadron,” said Hoff.
According to Vasquez, the center is “already a success.” The resources available serve a range from preschool-level to high school, offering something for everyone.
Senior Airman Guillermo Ramirez, 412th Security Forces Squadron, was in attendance with both of his daughters who regularly attend story time at the library.
“My oldest likes to learn a lot of things and she’ll definitely learn a lot looking at all the bugs and doing the math activities they have out,” said Ramirez. “It’s great and something different for the kids to do.”