Gulf Coast MakerCon is an Affiliate Event of the USA Science & Engineering Festival, and we’re proud to help take our place among events all over the country working together to re-invigorate the interest of our nation’s youth in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through engaging hands on learning. Among our great participants at this year’s DIY Celebration of the Inventive Spirit is Sarasota Scientific Instruments (SSI), a nonprofit organization supporting science education across Tampa Bay.
We talked to Jennifer Holt – Queen of Discovery (aka Director of Programs & Education) at SSI, who told us more about this great organization.
GCMC : Tell us about SSI – what it is, what it does, and why it does what it does.
JH: Sarasota Scientific Instruments (SSI) is a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for hands-on exploration in science, technology, engineering and math. SSI began in 2006 in Pinellas county with a program called the Science Lending Library. The science lending library allows teachers to borrow equipment and kits needed for hands-on science exploration and experimentation in the classroom. Through the years Sarasota Scientific Instruments has partnered with many different organizations to facilitate lending of science equipment to teachers in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Sarasota and Manatee counties. Today, SSI not only provides equipment for borrowing to the four counties, but has also branched out to include educational outreach. SSI is also working to secure a location for a fabrication laboratory which will be open to schools and the general public for Sarasota and Manatee counties.
Sarasota Scientific Instruments and the science lending library program is supported by the Faulhaber Foundation. The Faulhabers, who are both engineers, are passionate about providing hands-on science experiences and have worked to fill the need to bring those vital learning experiences into the classroom. After all, how can you fully understand science concepts until you have the opportunity to apply them and actually experience how they work?
SSI’s Science Lending Library program is free to teachers in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Sarasota, and Manatee counties. Sarasota Scientific Instruments’ educational outreach and festival programs are available for schools, community festivals, school science nights, or any other special events for a fee depending on the program type and length. Please visit our website at www.sarasotascience.org for outreach program offerings and costs.
GCMC: What will MakerCon guests be able to see or do at the SSI booth?
At the Sarasota Scientific Instruments booth, guests will be able to browse through the selection of equipment available to teachers for borrowing through the Pinellas/Hillsborough branch. Guests will also get to try out a few of the science tools from the science library.
Please make sure to visit the SSI Faulhaber Fab Lab in the Makerspace Makers Corner, as well, to see the exciting lab being established in Sarasota.