Palouse Science Discovery Center
Palouse Discovery Science Center/BTE Bootcamp
Inspiring Young Minds And Encouraging Innovative Thinking
An interview with Victoria Scalise, Executive Director of the Palouse Discovery Science Center.
The Palouse Discovery Science Center, or PDSC, has been bringing “hands-on science and learning experiences to people of all ages” for nearly 20 years. The non-profit was established to bring access to science and technology education and learning to the Palouse, since the closest full-service science centers were 300 miles away.
The PDSC offers amazing hands-on learning experiences for learners of all ages encouraging engagement with science, math, engineering and technology. With over 100 exhibits, educational programs, teaching collections, and ample science activities that enable opportunities to engage, educate, and inspire hungry minds.
Victoria Scalise, Executive Director of the PDSC, is proud of the resource that the facility provides for the region. It was her passion for supporting the community and encouraging innovation and creativity that led her to become involved with BTE Bootcamp.
“After hearing about the type of companies and products that were incubated and developed through the Bootcamp, I envisioned a connection about the discovery process and innovative thinking of these entrepreneurs, and how this connection could be made to young children and “budding scientist and entrepreneurs” here at the PDSC… Highlighting the PDSC as an early source for the entrepreneurial thinking processes is a terrific tie-in to the BTE Bootcamp, as well as providing a glimpse into the types of entrepreneurs and their products/services developed through the Bootcamp to young children and their families here at the PDSC.” said Scalise.
To learn more about how the PDSC plants the seeds for innovation in minds young and old on the Palouse, as well as their involvement with BTE Bootcamp, read the rest of Scalise’s interview below.
Briefly, please describe PDSC’s mission and your role there
Our mission at the Palouse Discovery Science Center is to bring hands-on science and learning experiences to people of all ages. We are a non-profit organization whose purpose is to further the public’s understanding of science and technology through the use of educational programs, exhibits, teaching collections, and activities which emphasize the physical participation of individuals. The offerings of the PDSC support and enhance science in both formal and informal situations involved with life-long learning.
The Palouse Discovery Science Center offers hands-on science and learning experiences to people of all ages! Promoting science, math, engineering and technology literacy through the use of over 100 exhibits, educational programs, teaching collections, and a wide variety of science activities emphasizing hands-on learning that engage, educate and inspire.
My role is as the Executive Director of the PDSC.
How does PDSC support the Palouse region?
The PDSC serves a 4,720 square mile area in northern Idaho and eastern Washington. The science center impacts some 18,000 people annually, including some 5,000 school children through field trips and outreach programming. Four institutions of higher education (Washington State University, University of Idaho, Lewis-Clark State College, and Walla Walla Community College) provide support by the involvement of their faculties, staff, and students. The PDSC provides a unique resource for informal science learning in the rural communities of northern Idaho and eastern Washington. We have a host of interactive science exhibits for the public, programs for visiting field trip classes and pre-schoolers, outreach programming, workshops for educators, science-themed birthday parties, summer science camps, and a variety of community events. The nearest science centers providing similar full services are some 300 miles away in Seattle, Portland, or Boise.
Why did you decide to be involved in the BTE Bootcamp?
I knew colleagues that were involved in BTE Bootcamp and as they shared their experiences with me, I became interested in learning more about the BTE Bootcamp and what the program had to offer. After hearing about the type of companies and products that were incubated and developed through the Bootcamp, I envisioned a connection about the discovery process and innovative, and creative thinking of these entrepreneurs, and how this connection could be made to young children and “budding scientist and entrepreneurs” here at the PDSC. Infused throughout our science education programs, the PDSC strives to encourage and engage young learners to think outside of the box when solving problems. The PDSC’s mission embraces discovery and innovation, encouraging entrepreneurial thinking. Highlighting the PDSC as an early source for the entrepreneurial thinking processes is a terrific tie-in to the BTE Bootcamp, as well as providing a glimpse into the types of entrepreneurs and their products/services developed through the Bootcamp, to young children and their families here at the PDSC.
What value do you think BTE Bootcamp has to campers and our region as a whole?
The Bootcamp program offers a safe and supportive place for entrepreneurs to launch new ideas, products and services. With two universities and many well established startup companies in the region, resources for feedback and support of entrepreneurial development are abundant. The value to the region is community/region pride that a new company was launched in our own backyard, as well as creating potential to provide a draw in terms of economic development when encouraging other businesses and companies interested in establishing their operations in our region.
What are other ways that PDSC supports entrepreneurial development on the Palouse?
- Our Innovation Lab encourages young minds to think creatively and “outside of the box”. The Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) announced a new initiative last year for the science center and museum field, sponsored by Disney. This initiative, “Creativity Garden,” was designed to award 80 science centers and museums with funding (through a competitive grant application process) in an effort to provide programming around creativity, science, and innovation to children and youth (ages 6 to 14) throughout the United States. The Palouse Discovery Science Center (PDSC) was chosen to participate in this initiative and was provided funding to launch, “Innovation Lab: A Portal to Possibilities.” The PDSC Innovation Lab is designed to increase youth awareness about creative and innovative ways of thinking through collaborative efforts to solve problems using critical thinking skills. This is done by providing programming and curriculum designed to educate children about the use of technology as a way to explore new possibilities in conjunction with providing access to technologic tools and software. Visitors to the PDSC Innovation Lab engage in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, in new ways as they address real world problems and create new solutions by utilizing iPads, computers, a 3D printer, building materials, a green screen, and software in the pursuit of exploration and new ideas. The program is committed to inspiring youth to create and think in innovative ways, fostering confidence not only in science achievements and problem solving, but also providing a platform to think outside of the box. The project aims to focus on the entrepreneurial spirit when developing a solution to a presented problem.
Family Science Saturdays are educational events that engage all members of the family. And began as a way to share University research with the community, providing a familiar venue to connect university professors to the general public to present their research in an interactive, family friendly way. Since then the program has grown to include presentations by community members, and student groups, sharing their latest research, concepts and ideas about discoveries in science and technology. These events give participants the opportunity to engage in hands-on lessons with field experts. Because they are recurring events aimed at both school children and adults, Family Science Saturdays encourage scientific literacy and discovery at home.
What is the value of supporting local entrepreneurs?
Home grown entrepreneurs helps bring a progressive spirit to our area. They often reflect an identity representative of the region. We’ve seen many startup companies that can be quite impactful in driving local economies, promoting job growth, while also helping to carve an identity for the community and our surrounding area.