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Our History

SciTech Hands On Museum traces its origins to Dr. Ernest Malamud's sabbatical at the Exploratorium in 1982, where he was inspired to bring a similar science center to the Midwest. In 1987, an international panel was assembled to establish SciTech, with experts from various countries and local businesses forming an advisory committee.

 

Officially recognized in 1988, SciTech initially showcased exhibits at Benedictine College. In 1990, the museum found its permanent home in an old post office in Aurora, Illinois, thanks to community support and donations from local businesses.

 

Over the years, SciTech expanded its exhibits and programs, introducing notable attractions like "Doppler Baseball" and the "Hot Air Balloon" in 1992. The museum's growth led to improvements in infrastructure, including the addition of outdoor exhibits and the creation of a mezzanine level with an auditorium in 2004. However, the economic downturn in 2007 brought challenges, prompting staff reductions and postponing some planned features.

 

In 2010, SciTech began to rebound, revitalizing its outdoor science park and updating its gift shop and technology offerings. The SciTech Discovery Preschool, featuring a STEM-based curriculum, was established with support from the Dunham Foundation. Arlene Hawks became the Executive Director in 2013, focusing on outreach and education.

 

As the museum evolved, it incorporated new exhibits, including environmental sciences, health-focused displays, and interactive experiences like Google Earth and the Augmented Reality Sandbox. In 2016, the movement to incorporate arts into STEM fields led to the transformation of STEM into STEAM, impacting SciTech's educational programs.

 

In 2017, recognizing the changing landscape, the museum decided to redirect resources towards enhancing its offerings. The last graduating preschool class of the SciTech Academy was in 2017.

In 2020, the SciTech Hands On Museum faced the unprecedented challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, which ultimately led to its museum closure. SciTech leadership responded to the evolving circumstances by pivoting towards a new approach. Recognizing the need for alternative educational opportunities, SciTech transitioned into a mobile STEM initiative. This initiative aims to bring hands-on STEM workshops directly to children across the Fox Valley area.

By taking the museum experience on the road, SciTech continues its mission to engage young learners in science, technology, engineering, and math. This innovative approach allows SciTech to adapt to the changing landscape and provide valuable educational resources to the community in a safe and accessible manner.

As of August 2023, SciTech's home office is now located in Batavia, IL. This move to Batavia provides a central location to support SciTech's commitment to serving the Fox Valley area and reflects its dedication to providing quality STEM education to children and families in the region.

 

Through this mobile STEM initiative, SciTech remains a dynamic force in the field of hands-on science education, ensuring that quality STEM learning opportunities are accessible to all.

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