The Discovery Center at Water’s Edge, an interactive science center where visitors of all ages can experience hands-on science and technology, had over 2,000 attendees June 11 at its first annual Magic of Science Fair and Family Festival. The event took place at the TUNE Building at Harford Community College.
“If [the] Magic of Science Fair and Family Festival was any indication, our community is hungry for the opportunity to learn and play with science that the Discovery Center will provide,” said Curtis Beulah, Harford County council member for District F. “We are fortunate to have Aberdeen Proving Ground in our backyard, because the people and resources at APG make events like this possible.”
Beulah presented the Discovery Center’s board with a proclamation from the office of the county executive in recognition of the event for unifying the STEM community and bringing outstanding STEM – Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – education opportunities to the citizens of Harford County.
The free event featured a day of interactive activities and exploration for learners of all ages, from infants to adults, including a regional science fair for middle school students, a family festival, a Discovery Zone play area, petting zoo, hands-on science experiments , drone races, entertainers, tech talks, large and small robotic challenges, food trucks and more.
Interactive exhibits included balancing a rocket utilizing sensors, entering the world of virtual reality, extracting DNA, investigating an enigma machine, directing a stream’s flow to prevent flooding, making and taking brick builds, problem solving with items found in a junk drawer, examining insect diversity with microscopes and planting a sunflower.
The middle school regional science fair showcased 21 projects and were reviewed by 20 judges. Three students were awarded with top honors, three with honorable mention and 25 with participation recognition. The winners of the Best in Grade Awards were:
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-6th Grade: Spencer Tucker-Jones, Patterson Mill Middle School, Paper Airplane Design;
-7th Grade: Scott Campbell, Patterson Mill Middle School, Background Radiation Cloud Chamber;
-8th Grade: Lucas Bomhardt, New Covenant Christian School, Factors Affecting Seismic Waves.
The Discovery Center at Water’s Edge also introduced its mascot, Rosalind, named after Rosalind Franklin, a British chemist who did pioneering DNA research.
“Based on the participation of the science fair and the activities at the family festival, this will definitely be an annual event,” said Charlie Nietubicz, president of the Discovery Center at Water’s Edge. “We’re going to do this every year. Our children need this; they are the key to the future of STEM. This is the first successful public initiative on our journey to develop the much-anticipated Discovery Center at Water’s Edge where we can encourage people of all ages to explore, play, innovate and discover.”
The Discovery Center at Water’s Edge will be a 35,000-square-foot facility serving 100,000 visitors each year, expected to open by 2026. The Discovery Center will offer after-school programs, maker spaces, and serve as an anchor for the regions’ STEM activities.
Phase 1 will be a 5,000-square-foot Preview Center at the Water’s Edge complex in Belcamp. Phase 2 will result in the opening of an operational Discovery Center with 10,000 square feet of space, anticipated to serve over 55,000 visitors each year, and costing about $4.5 million. Phase 3 will expand the center to 35,000 square feet.