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Outstanding Educator

The Science Zone

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04/01/2009 - 1The Science Zone


Jamie Barbe

I share this affliction with many: My brain is not wired to easily understand science and math. So imagine my joy when I walk into The Science Zone and see all this cool-lookin' stuff all around me. I can't help but smile (and inwardly jump up and down) like a kid in Fantasyland. I'm greeted at the front desk by Pam Zurawski who's not only friendly, but, I discover later, fun-loving. For when I see something I'm curious about (turns out it's called a Van der Graff), Pam volunteers to show me what it does. I gotta tell ya: It was hair-raising.

The Science Zone, located right next to the Wyoming Athletic Club in the Sunrise Shopping Center, is comprised of a series of smaller stations throughout the large facility. Each station is set up so that learners get right into the action. They can touch and manipulate different objects. They can find out what happens when they…well, do whatever it is. In fact, while I'm here, a mom and her two kids are delighting in percussion sounds and pulleys.

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Executive Director Kevin Jones shows me through the various stations. Among them is the Zoo Zone where I meet interesting little creatures such as baby chicks and an iguana named Iggy. In the Medical Zone, I see a skeleton, anatomy charts, a stethoscope, and even an old-fashioned nurse's cap for the kids to play with. In the Tear-Apart Zone, I see what you'd expect: Things that are torn apart. The area looks like a fix-it shop. Kevin tells me, "You should see the looks on the kids' faces when we tell them they can tear things apart."

A member of the Association of Science and Tech Centers (ASTC), Casper's The Science Zone is targeted toward children in K-6. All of the zones meet a State Education Standard in elementary science or math.

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Kevin tells me that older kids like The Science Zone, too. "For instance, we'll have a middle-school kid who's dragged in here and then, later, doesn't want to leave."

The Science Zone also does community outreach in which it sends out their two full-time, certified teachers into District schools where they give science and math lessons in the classroom.

Though raised in Casper, Kevin lived in Florida for six years where he operated a bookstore at Broward County Community College and earned his Master of Science degree in higher education administration. He was glad to move back to Casper a year or two ago and was even more delighted to step into his new job this past September. "I just love watching a bunch of kids learning science and having fun, too."

The Science Zone is a not-for-profit organization. It is funded by donations, grants, and its nominal admission fees. It is open Monday through Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm. Their phone is 473-9663. Check 'em out. Even science-and-math-iphobes will have a great time. And learn something, too.

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