Science Factory Puts Energy Into Expansion Plans

Apr 06, 2017 - 6:30 pm

Elevate Curiosity Campaign To Kick Off April 6

Emily Landis, executive director at Lancaster Science Factory (LSF), 454 New Holland Ave., Lancaster, is happy to explain the piezoelectric effect, a concept that will be highlighted in the new expanded exhibit hall planned for the venue. "Any kind of compression of (certain ceramic) cells creates energy," explained Landis. "So the force (of a foot coming down on a surface) creates energy that (ceramic cells) collect. The dream would be that walkways would be covered with those cells, and energy could be collected that way."

Landis is looking forward to introducing the concepts for exhibits featuring piezoelectric energy in an exhibit funded by a PPL Foundation grant, along with a second classroom and designs for a back courtyard, when LSF holds the Elevate Curiosity Campaign kickoff on Friday, April 6, at 6:30 p.m. Because the event will be held on a First Friday, there will be no charge to visit LSF, and the public is invited to attend.

Monday, Jan. 22, marked the Lancaster Science Factory's 10th anniversary. According to Landis, LSF has grown dramatically since it opened. "We started with 23,000 visitors a year, and this year we anticipate 46,000. When we started, there were 40 exhibits, but now there are more than 65."

The expansion will include a new 3,000-square-foot exhibit hall to supplement the existing 10,000-square-foot exhibit hall, and 25 percent of the current exhibits will be updated. A 1,300-square-foot area will become a second classroom. "We call (the new classroom) our Maker Space because it will be packed with tools and materials so children can do hands-on projects," said Landis, who added that a second STEM educator, to serve with current educator Rachel Cahill, will oversee the new classroom. A 3,000-square-foot courtyard may hold a windmill and other exhibits.

Among the current exhibits are a number that encourage exploration of sources of sustainable energy, including alternative energy sources such as wind and solar. "We have a lot of exhibits that relate to human energy generation," said Landis, stepping up to an exhibit showing how to convert kinetic energy to electric energy. She hooked up the cranks connected to a fan and began applying the necessary muscle work, and a fan whirred to life. "The hardest one (to work) is the (car) lights," said Landis. "They require the most energy."

Providing hands-on learning opportunities is part of the mission of LSF. Working together with local organizations, such as Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology, LSF provides robotics camps, STEAM camps, and other programs focused on science and engineering. "Part of our role is to make children aware of all the possibilities (in STEM careers)," explained Landis, who added that the classes and exhibits help children who attend to explore trades and find out what they like to do. "As new technology (appears), we want to embrace it and give children a chance to understand what it's all about and use it wisely," said Landis, who pointed out that not many computer screens are in evidence at LSF. "That's intentional because we want children to do hands-on learning and understand (concepts) on a fundamental level," said Landis. "We want them to explore and try things out for themselves. We want to give children the confidence to explore."

Readers who would like to learn more about LSF may visit http://www.tlsf.org or call 717-509-6363.

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