Science museum

Educators hope to bring science museum to Bangor in the next 5 years


If Niles Parker of the Maine Discovery Museum and a group of other educators and nonprofit leaders in the Bangor area are successful, Bangor over the next five years will be home to a science center that will focus on the education and growth of the community. scientific infrastructure in the region. .

Parker, along with Kirsten Hibbard of the Challenger Learning Center of Maine and Kate Dickerson of the Maine Science Festival, are proposing a physical campus that could house a science museum, event space, and science business incubator.

Although the project is still in its infancy, Parker said he and his fellow educators and professionals in eastern Maine have been talking about it for several years.

“It’s something we talked about even before the pandemic,” Parker said. “Maine is the only state in the country that does not have a dedicated science museum. Wouldn’t it be great if we could bring this to Bangor? “

Portland’s waterfront briefly housed the Portland Science Center, which closed in 2018 after a three-year period, due to weak ticket sales.

Parker will present the project to the city council’s economic and business development committee on Tuesday, seeking committee approval for a memorandum of understanding, which would allow the city to support efforts to build the center, although it would not commit no funds in the project. . If the committee approves it, the memorandum will be forwarded to city council for final approval next week.

Details on what such a campus or building would look like, where it would be, or exactly what facilities it would house are still being planned, although Parker has said science education will be the focus of the effort.

“Right now there isn’t a lot of room for science education in elementary schools in Maine. If we could create a space that would help expose kids to science from kindergarten through high school, we can close this glaring gap, ”Parker said.

Parker also said that with the growth of world-class facilities like the Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor and the Advanced Structures and Composites Center at the University of Maine and its associated business ramifications, eastern Maine is becoming a science hub. and research for Maine. The proposed science center would take advantage of this.

“There could be an incubator space for startups. It could house a space for the Maine Science Festival to offer programming all year round, ”he said. “We envision a hub for education and to shine the spotlight on organizations that are already doing incredible work here, as well as potentially creating some of our own innovations. “

Parker and his colleagues said they hope to share more information on the proposal in the coming months.

“It’s far too early to speak with any specificity, but with time and progress we are very optimistic that we can do something really amazing,” he said.

As for the Maine Discovery Museum, the downtown Bangor spot has been closed to regular visitors since the start of the pandemic and has not reopened because its main audience – children under 12 – cannot be vaccinated. However, he offered summer camps and worked with area schools to provide educational programs.

Parker said the museum hopes to reopen a few weeks after the pediatric vaccines are approved.


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