OH WOW! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology opened in downtown Youngstown, Ohio on May 12, 2011 to rave reviews and overwhelming community support! Today, OH WOW!’s brand is well-respected, and the organization is an anchor and economic development engine in downtown Youngstown’s central business district, serving 80,765 explorers in 2019 and a total of 530,284 since our opening.
OH WOW! closed to the public in mid-March 2020 and will remain closed until May 2021. Construction is expected to begin later this year to relocate OH WOW!’s main entrance to Central Square.
Though our facility is closed to the public, we have become a museum beyond our walls, offering NEW, online resources to our valued community, which include
- a revised website (ohwowkids.org) with targeted resources for families, educators and community partners,
- an expanded presence on Social Media (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok), and
- NEW, STEM SAKs (Science Activity Kits) for families without online access.
Our mission is “OH WOW!’s colorful, hands-on environment encourages independent thinking through interactive STEM-based exhibits and EDUtaining programs.”
Our major services and programs reflect our academic focus, which is on children ages 0 to 14, with “EDUtainment” opportunities for learners of all ages. There are now eleven galleries, or WOW! Zones and more than sixty hands-on, interactive opportunities, or exhibits, linked to the educational content standards of Ohio & Pennsylvania in OH WOW!. OH WOW!’s permanent exhibit collections promote understanding of the Scientific Process of Inquiry, encouraging visitors to make observations, draw conclusions from those observations, and adjust or modify their experiments (or actions) to get a different (or better) result.
- Self-directed and staff-guided “exploration opportunities” on site;
- 281 field trips held in 2019, serving 8,168 individuals
- 8th year of OH WOW! Moment on WFMJ & CW with hostess Madonna Chism Pinkard & OH WOW! pal “Mr. Ralf”, which encourages in-house experimentation and exploration in STEM concepts by viewers.
- 9 years of Silly Science Sundays in September, a free STEM Festival in downtown Youngstown with 40 exhibitors that gives families an opportunity to explore featured STEM concepts and career opportunities.
- The 6th year for Summer Manufacturing Institute, an innovative summer workshop for youth in grades 4-6, to increase understanding of and interest in local manufacturing with the YWCA and many others.
- Focused outreach programs off site;
- 234 events held in 2019, serving 32,604 individual explorers
- 300% growth in “WOW! on Wheels,” an interactive outreach option for classroom teachers, afterschool programs and community organizations.
- Professional development opportunities for area educators;
- None held in 2019
- Volunteer and internship opportunities for board members, high school and college students; and
- 2,478 hours served, conservatively valued at $63,015
- Research opportunities for college faculty and students in 2019-20:
- 6th year of ENG1560 with YSU’s College of STEM, where 300 1st year engineering students work in teams to design, build, test and re-build an exhibit prototype for OH WOW!, as part of their course work;
- 1st year as an option for two (2), Senior level Engineering students at YSU to build a floor-ready exhibit for OH WOW!, as their senior capstone project.
- YSU BUS 3780, where students are provided a Professional Shadow Assignment as part of their course work in financial management and fundraising.
- YSU BUS 3720 Team Consulting Project, where student consultants from YSU’s Center for Nonprofit Studies made recommendations to assist us in meeting 2020 challenges which we look forward to implementing. Laura Dewberry, Director of the Center for YSU Nonprofit Leadership said, “We chose OH WOW! due to its brand recognition and past mentorship. Our students have offered solutions to OH WOW!’s organizational challenges related to access for all, marketing & volunteer recruitment, retention and recognition.”
- Senior design students from KSU’s Interior Design Program, College of Architecture & Environmental Design, are using OH WOW! as part of their senior projects. Jill Lahrmer, KSU Assistant Professor says, “This opportunity will give KSU students a greater understanding of their potential impact through the lens of invested community thought leaders and as individual designers proposing thought-provoking ideas.”