Homewood’s new experiment

Brianna Lewis, News Writer

After nearly two years in the making, the new science center in downtown Homewood aims to increase interest and understanding of science.
The Homewood Science Center has been underway since early 2014 when Homewood village officials made the first move in creating an environment to support the aspirations of science lovers, both young and old, in their community.
The chosen location took the place of the Ryan Funeral Home, next to the H-F Park District Auditorium.
Being the first of its kind in this area, the science center opened its first program, PopUP SCIENCE, in May. It is seen by many as the first step in drawing an interest for science into Homewood and neighboring communities, such as Flossmoor, Glenwood and Olympia Fields.
“We really want to cultivate more interest and understanding of science in not only this community, but the ones around us as well,” Homewood Science Center Executive Director Edie Dobrez said. “It’s more of a regional center than for just one community.”
The family friendly center offers various events and programs geared toward people of all ages. The events range from invite only open houses, to fund-raising walks in local preserves.
“We’re not only focused on elementary students, but also their parents and teenagers as well,” Dobrez said.
The science center’s program PopUP SCIENCE is STEM based. It’s a free, community-led program that occurs one to two times a month and interests people with hands on science.
STEM is an acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics, although it can be used as STEAM, where the “A” stands for art. This form of education is based on combining these main subjects and informing others on how they can be used in real life.
Many of the people who guide the science courses are locals. Whether they are experts or enthusiasts, they share a love of science and sharing their knowledge.
Child psychologist and science center advisor Kin Kong works closely with the children and assists in the growth of their programs, such as “HF’s Life Aquatic” and “What’s UP with Butterfield Creek”, while ensuring it remains a healthy environment for them.
“My son’s in [the program] and he loves it,” Kong said. “It helps them grow in confidence, communication, and their abilities.”
According to the marketing and events coordinator Holly Kelsven, the science center is not open on a day to day basis and will not be fully functioning for the next few months. However, the PopUP events are still occurring.
The plan for the center is to keep the ball rolling and expand programs and scientific offers by 2017 and with the volunteers and other staff, this seems to be a goal within reach for Homewood’s new addition.
The volunteers that come through the center can start as early as the age of seven and are often students within the H-F districts.
Volunteers such as eighth-grader Lauren Matthews of Parker Junior High School are excited to be a part of the science center.
“I like how they’re trying to bring more interest in science in our community,” Matthews said.
Future events open to any and everyone include the Homewood Fire Department Open House on Oct. 1, the Walk Walton: PopUP SCIENCE fund-raising event on Oct. 23.