“[Science] is more than a school subject, or the periodic table, or the properties of waves. It is an approach to the world, a critical way to understand and explore and engage with the world, and then have the capacity to change that world…” — President Barack Obama, March 23, 2015
Growing up in Ashland, I was continuously surrounded by opportunities to learn and be curious. Curiosity was my best friend, and it helped me discover how the world around me truly worked. I had great teachers whose passion was to answer tough questions. I felt pride in being a part of a community that celebrated forward thinking and innovation. And, I had the freedom to explore with curiosity wherever I went.
One of my fondest memories from growing up was of our school field trips to the ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum. Our class would line up in the hallway and march our way across the street to this extraordinary place. Once inside, we were set free to explore energy, anatomy, chemistry, perception, motion, and more. As the name implies, everything was hands-on and we could touch, tinker, experiment, and invent things while playing with our friends. To us it didn’t feel like school, it felt like we were dropped off into a mysterious world where everything was designed to feed our curiosity.
As I so eloquently would tell my parents back then, “it was awesome!”. And, believe me, ScienceWorks has only grown more awesome since then… especially if you’ve grown into an adult who enjoys learning about wine and supporting your community.
The Science of Wine
Each year, ScienceWorks takes its hands-on approach to learning and uses it to explore a subject many adults can get excited about, wine.
At the Science of Wine fundraiser gala, guests participate in an:
“Exclusive opportunity to examine the phenomena of wine in a new way, with taste tours through genetics, climate, technology, and biology led by regional experts. Education stations placed throughout ScienceWorks guide you on a delicious journey where you uncover the elements that build our sensory perception of wine and discover how each of these pieces impacts your unique experience.”
Science of Wine has been an annual fundraiser for ScienceWorks for many years. This year, with the help of Rogue World Music’s Ana Byers, and wine expert Liz Wan, they revisited the format to focus more on the science of winemaking and tasting: genetics, climate, technology, and human biology, as experienced through a hands-on tasting.
ScienceWorks’ Plan For The future – A Conversation with Dan Ruby
ScienceWorks relies on donations from the community (63% of their donors reside in Ashland) and grants to be able to create unique learning experiences for our youth.
Dan Ruby, the Executive Director of ScienceWorks, shared with me what their goals were for this year’s Science of Wine event:
“Our goal was to engage stakeholders in supporting the ongoing mission and new future vision established for ScienceWorks. Since 20% of our budget annually comes from donations, we aim to raise a portion of that during the Science of Wine. This year we were hoping to raise around $50,000 and the total committed was $100,000!”
As a hub for creativity and innovation, ScienceWorks has big plans for the future. The evening culminated with an unveiling of the new community vision for ScienceWorks – being the center for next-generation science engagement for all ages in Southern Oregon. And, a showcase for sustainable innovation in STEM fields from the Rogue Valley.
I went on to ask Dan about his vision for ScienceWorks and what opportunities they hope to create with the money raised:
“My vision for ScienceWorks is to be a nexus for creativity and innovation serving our region from the coast to the Cascades, showcasing the unique talent of the Rogue Valley, and attracting visitors from around the world. We are a principal resource for science engagement for K-12 students and teachers in the area, and the money raised helps us develop new onsite and outreach programs for people of all ages and backgrounds.”
Dan’s team has big plans for creating new learning opportunities in our community. And, as someone who grew up enjoying this amazing facility, it was inspiring to hear about his strategic plan for the future:
“Our new strategic plan for the next five years identifies a few key areas of focus, and they include becoming a leader in sustainable technology; bilingual channels for our integrated programming to serve our community; developing our outdoor facilities to be immersive learning environments; creating new partnerships and strengthening existing relationships with neighboring organizations; and redefining the perception of ScienceWorks as a next-generation center for people of all ages and backgrounds.”
Our world is growing more complex each day. The innovations, failures, and missed opportunities of previous generations are transforming into major problems that our children’s generation will have to fix.
Now, more than ever, it is critical that our youth are equipped with the knowledge and skills to solve tough problems, gather and evaluate evidence, and think critically with limited information.
It takes a community to impart this knowledge and by supporting an incubator of innovation like ScienceWorks, you are gifting new opportunities to future generations. If you would like to make a donation to support ScienceWorks you can do so on their website. Or, if you’re interested in becoming a volunteer, you can learn more about opportunities to get involved here.
KDA Homes is a proud sponsor of the Science of Wine event and donor to ScienceWorks. Laz Ayala of KDA Homes was recognized by the Executive Director, Dan Ruby for “singlehandedly turning a good fundraiser into one of the best we’ve ever had.” In doing so, Laz and the KDA Homes Team earned a spot on the ScienceWorks lifetime ‘Champions of Science’ wall”.