As executive director of the Lancaster Science Factory, Emily Landis’ job is to keep children, as Albert Einstein once said, “passionately curious.”
But there’s one problem: The 10-year-old hands-on science center at 454 New Holland Ave. is running out of room. So it’s expanding.
The science factory recently officially went public with a $2.25 million expansion and $3 million capital campaign. Expanding the facility is necessary in order to keep up with an uptick in attendance, Landis said.
Attendance has doubled at the facility since its inception in 2008. It exceeded 46,000 visitors last year, and Landis estimates a record 48,000 this year.
“We’re just experiencing demand we don’t have the capacity to keep up with, and that’s a great thing,” Landis said. “I think the community is really looking for hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities.”
New exhibits will include a sustainable energy dance floor with tiles that light up as they’re stepped on; a second makerspace classroom where students can tinker with electronics, robotics, 3D printing and more; and the Sky Bridge — a two-story climbable bridge suspended from the ceiling.
The 12,000-square-foot facility — formerly occupied by Kerr Glass Inc. — will add 4,300 square feet inside by taking over an unoccupied space at the rear of the building. A new courtyard centered on environmental sustainability will add about 3,300 square feet outside, Landis said.
“It won’t just be an expansion wing,” she said. “It will look completely different.”
Construction, Landis said, should start in the fall and continue into spring 2019.
The project was made possible by donations collected as part of the center’s $3 million capital campaign. To date, the Lancaster Science Factory has raised $1.9 million from 51 donors.
PPL, The Steinman Foundation, Richard S. and Ann B. Barshinger Family Foundation and Gunterberg Charitable Foundation each has given at least $100,000.
The Steinman Foundation is a local, independent family foundation that was funded by the companies that comprise Steinman Communications; those companies include LNP Media Group.
Of the money raised, $750,000 will help create an endowment.
For more information on the expansion and endowment, visit elevatecuriosity.org.