A year ago we worked on a new science center in Indonesia. The project was on a very short schedule and we needed to use all “off the shelf exhibits” to meet the deadline. As part of the project we created a database of quickly available exhibits. Start to finish the Indonesian science center opened eight months, after I was first contacted. The process got me thinking, “Why can’t we open lots of little science centers all over the world?”. In Asia cites are popping up so quickly they are calling them “Cities in a Box”, why not “Science Centers in a Box”?
I am bothered by the “big box” science centers, $300 million dollar projects seem unnecessary. You could build 100 smaller science centers for the same $300M budget. My thinking behind Science Pop (science center in a box), has grown out of a need for community based science centers. I receive an email a day from groups all over the world interested in starting small community based organizations without the resources to move forward. There has been a dramatic shift in the world of science centers / children’s museums towards “Big Box” multi-million dollar organizations leaving smaller organizations behind. To my thinking there is a greater impact to opening 100 small community based organizations world wide than one large destination based organization. Below is an “elevator pitch”:
Let’s open 100 science centers worldwide. Why can’t science centers be like a restaurant franchise? A parent organization helps with site selection, then delivers a proven solution and continues to advise with oversight. With a $20M (approximate) budget a foundation can be formed to create 100 tested proven educational facilities throughout the world. Each science center would be self sustaining, with the core organization continuing to assure quality and adherence to science standards.
We receive many emails from people interested in opening a Science Center in developing countries. These centers could be self sustaining but part of a core organization that assures quality with adherence to Science standards. Since the Science-Pop (working title) development costs would be covered by the granting organization, the costs would be minimal: $250,000 start up and $70,000 per year operating (approximate).
We have found that trying to explain a science center is difficult. It is much easier to build a “Preview Facility” and show people.
The next steps:
- Create Advisory Board
- Partners, Corporations; Non-Profits
- Create request for business planning grant
- Form 503(c)(3)
- Start List of Locations / Organizations
- Create Science Pop Prototype
What do you think?