Sarasota philanthropists and STEM education advocates, Dr. Fritz Faulhaber and his wife, Ping, announced preliminary plans to open a new science center in Sarasota during a news conference on Monday, April 21.
The Faulhabers envision the upcoming Suncoast Science Center as a learning facility geared toward students of all ages, ranging from mid-elementary to high school.
“What we’re talking about is hands on, experiential science and engineering,” says Dr. Faulhaber.
“We want to involve all the senses so that when kids are exploring, they do it with their whole being … If you begin to pull the thread of experimentation and understanding of [scientific] concepts early, it can continue through every grade,” he adds, noting the lifelong benefits of establishing an early interest in the STEM disciplines.
Ping Faulhaber notes that while U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics project a 62 percent increase in STEM-related jobs by 2020, the Department of Education currently reports that only 16 percent of high school seniors plan to pursue STEM-related careers.
“We need a place outside of the classroom, without time limits and where kids don’t have to worry about tests, where they can explore science … a place that will keep kids interested in STEM,” Ping Faulhaber says.
The science center will include amenities such as the Faulhaber Fabrication Laboratory (Fab Lab), which was formerly housed at G. Wiz, as well as a science equipment lending library for teachers and classroom space for experimentation.
Sarasota Schools Superintendent, Lori White, announced that the former Sarasota County Technical Institute (SCTI) building in south Sarasota will serve as a temporary home for the Suncoast Science Center. The Faulhabers say they are currently in the process of seeking a permanent location for the organization, which they expect to house approximately 60,000 square feet of experiential learning space.
The Suncoast Science Center has yet to schedule an opening date in its temporary space in the SCTI building, however, interested patrons can sign up for the organization’s e-newsletter
to receive email updates and become involved in the future of the upcoming Suncoast Science Center.
Writer: Jessi Smith
Source: Fritz Faulhaber, Suncoast Science Center