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Powerhouse Science Center Looks to Tech Companies for Ideas, Support

The $78 million center will replace the 64-year-old Discovery Museum Science and Space Center in Sacramento, Calif., with a facility eight times larger and powered by renewable energy.

by Brooke Edward Staggs / March 27, 2015

There will be a digital planetarium housed inside a giant dome. There will be a Challenger Learning Center that simulates a mission to Mars. And there will be dozens of interactive exhibits exploring everything from biotech to water conservation.

All of these features are slated to be part of the Powerhouse Science Center, expected to break ground later this year along the Sacramento River. And all of these features will engage the center’s projected 320,000 annual visitors through technology.

“Everything about this science center is promoting the use of science and math and its application to technology,” said Shahnaz Van Deventer, a board member with Powerhouse and director with the Sacramento Area Regional Technology Alliance. “The entire museum is going to be wired so that you have opportunity throughout all of the exhibits to engage technology in some way.”

The $78 million center will replace the 64-year-old Discovery Museum Science and Space Center, with a facility eight times larger and powered by renewable energy. It will include an outdoor archeological dig, discovery labs and classrooms, a café and whatever else supporters can dream up.

And that’s where the technology community comes in. Stakeholders are looking to tech companies to supply ideas, equipment and sponsorships to help bring the Powerhouse Science Center to life.

Companies can either become Founding Partners, giving $25,000 (which can be amortized over time) to help develop an exhibit already planned for the museum. Or companies can become Title Sponsors, designing and creating an exhibit from scratch.

So far, multiple Title Sponsors have committed to projects that range from $100,000 to $2 million, Van Deventer said. Organizers are now in the final stretch of their capital fund campaign to cover the first phase of construction, with plans to open in 2016.

Along with learning opportunities offered at the center, Powerhouse will also spearhead professional development and outreach programs in local schools. That will be another opportunity for technology companies to get involved, Van Deventer said, as they help design curriculum or supply manpower, also fulfilling any employee mandates for community service hours.

“Technology companies should be interested in taking a greater role in encouraging this type of facility,” Van Deventer said, “as it will contribute to the growth and development of the next generation workforce.”

Organizers hope the center will contribute to revitalizing Sacramento’s River District, attracting new companies and families to town. But the core goal, Van Deventer said, is to create a place that inspires people to innovate and explore.

“When you talk to scientists, when you talk to inventors, they can trace back to one moment in time that a light bulb went on, that they touched something and in that moment they felt this spark of their imagination waking up,” Van Deventer said. “And we’re really hoping that this is what the science center is going to be. It’s going to be the opportunity for someone to come in and have that light bulb go off and they touch something and they feel that spark.”

Companies or organizations interested in supporting the science center can contact Van Deventer at 916-717-1388 or vandeventer@powerhousesc.org. For more information on the center, visit PowerhouseScienceCenter.org.

This story was originally published by TechWire

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