County gives $55K to Kopernik science park

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VESTAL, NY – Kopernik and the Junior League finally have the money to make their Science Park playground a reality.

Last month, Broome County provided a $55,000 grant last month, the final piece of funding needed to start purchasing equipment for the park.

The Junior League of Binghamton, which also created the Story Garden at the Discovery Center, began discussions with the Kopernik Observatory and Science Center about the outdoor playground back in 2013.

In addition to some standard playground items like slides and swings, there will be apparatus that provokes thinking about science, such as a geodesic dome called the Moon Climber or a multi-level carousel known as Global Motion.

Junior League President Gabrielle Wayman says it will be a great way to get children interested in the STEM fields.

“Play is so much more important to the development of our families than anyone gives it credit for. What we want to do is bring that to the forefront, and say this is how people develop passions. This is how one kid is going to spin on the Global Motion and decide I want to be a physicist because I need to know why I rolled off,” says Wayman.

The playground will include signage with science facts as well as QR codes for families to learn more about each topic.

Kopernik Executive Director Drew Deskur says the Science Park will attract new visitors who will then be exposed to its other programming, including Friday night skywatching and Summer camps.

“When the kids are out playing, maybe either overtly or subliminally, they are in fact learning. There will be some signage in the park indicating what aspect of science or physics or engineering is associated with that particular device,” said Deskur.

Wayman credits partnerships with local educational institutions, government and corporate sponsors with raising the roughly $600,000 needed for the project.

Work to level the site and address drainage issues has been completed.

The plan is to install the equipment in the Spring.

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