In Focus: Hands-On Learning At The Headwaters Science Center
The Headwaters Science Center in Bemidji offers education programs and games for both kids and adults. The non-profit organization has been in Bemidji since 1994 and was first started with an organization called Opportunities in Science.
“That was founded by Dr. Laddie Elwell, who was at the time was a faculty member at Bemidji State University. She had in mind something like an outpost to the science museum in Minnesota,” said Headwaters Science Center Educational Specialist Chuck Deeter. “When it kind of looked like this wouldn’t be part of the science museum in Minnesota, Opportunities in Science began working towards this goal to establishing a science center here that will provide informal education opportunities.”
Deeter says the idea behind the center is to ensure that people have science literacy. When the center was first starting, it was being operated out of someone’s house before they moved it to the what was once the J.C. Penney store downtown.
“It was a big empty space at the time. And we tried to get many things in as we can. And to develop some kind of what we felt programming or demonstrations, hands-on experiences. That sort of thing,” Deeter said.
In the beginning there were a few home-made exhibits, but now there are over 15. People can come and have fun with hands-on exhibits that are based on science principles. Some of the exhibits that are still on display have been there since the beginning.
“The Bicycle Gyroscope over there, was the first exhibit I built. We’ve been using that and the Frozen Shadows room, where you can leave your shadow on the wall, like a photographic image. [It] has been with us pretty much from the beginning. And other things have been added since then, of course,” Deeter said.
The Headwaters Science center offers educational programs and shows for kids and adults. Their recent program dealt with studying the stars and the moon using their Starlab.
“In particular, the phases of the moon and today’s special emphasis is about Apollo 11. And we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary,” said Headwaters Science Executive Director Lee Furuseth. “We’d love for them to know that Apollo 11 was the mission where we actually landed on the moon. So it took 10 tries in order to get all the way to the moon.”
The Executive Director says the motto of the science center is science you can touch. Everything they offer is a hands-on experience.