DOWNEY – The Columbia Memorial Space Center hosted its “City of Stem” Science Festival on Saturday to hundreds of Downey residents and children.
Saturday’s event was the culmination of a week of activities that kicked off CMSC’s month long City of Stem.
CMSC President and Executive Director Ben Dickow said that the space center wants to have a relationship with its audience.
“The best way to do that is to have face time with people,” said Dickow. “We have basically a three tiered strategy for the whole center: events, programs, and the exhibits. Events are the things we’ve spent the most time on the first couple of years now because we want to build that relationship; it gets us talking to people.”
City of Stem officially kicked off on Monday with a special invite-only dinner for individuals who previously worked in the aerospace field during its peak within Downey. Tuesday saw the first open-to-the-public event activity with Pub Science at the Downey Brewery. Varying other events directed at multiple demographics were also held throughout the week.
Saturday’s festival brought together several entities, both profit and nonprofit, from the science and STEM fields. Attendees were treated to several hands on activities, robotics labs, and rocket launches.
According to Dickow, feedback on the center’s community outreach and involvement has been “great,” though he admitted some bias.
“I’ve been in this realm for a long time,” said Dickow. “The reason I do it is because I get to have these great, positive interactions with people. It was really important to make sure that we kept that going. The feedback from the community, from the people who visit or the people who see us at Comic Con or whatever has been off the charts. We must be doing something right.”
Mayor Alex Saab and Councilman Sean Ashton were in attendance at Saturday’s festival. Mayor Saab described CMSC as “a gem in our community.”
“It really is focused on children and motivating them to think big,” said Saab. “It’s so important that we have a vehicle where kids can explore, where they can learn, where they can ask questions, and have fun all at the same time. That’s really the mission of the Columbia Memorial Space Center.”
Saab also commented on his goal to make admission to CMSC free for all Downey students, which according to Saab will “more than likely” be on the agenda at the next council meeting, which is scheduled for next Tuesday, April 12.
“The reason I support that and why I introduced that is because I think this should be no different than our parks,” said Saab. “This be a place where kids can go explore, kids can go to do homework, kids can come after school as a place where they can gather. The city [has] already spent $10 million building this place, and we spend a lot of money throughout the year. There’s really no reason why we should turn away a child because they don’t have five dollars to come to the Columbia Center.”
Dickow said he is “totally on board” with Saab’s goal.
“We could change this place into a hangout place, right? You’ve got the Promenade here; you can go get a pizza, go get a drink or whatever, come on over and hang out after school and they can do it for free? Who else hangs out in a science museum? That’d be awesome. So I’m good with that.”
For more information on City of Stem and future CMSC events, visit columbiaspacescience.org.