South Carolina State Museum brings science to life

A much-anticipated 75,000 square foot renovation and expansion project is now over at the South Carolina State Museum.

Columbia, S.C. (WACH) - A much-anticipated 75,000 square foot renovation and expansion project is now over at the South Carolina State Museum.

With new exhibits added to the facility, students throughout the state will have new opportunities to learn.

A new 4-D theatre, planetarium, and observatory classroom will focus science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, helping bring science to life.

"I haven't seen a telescope that big," said Iyanna Hopkins who toured the facility with the Boys and Girls Club Wednesday.

One after the other, children from the organization filed into the Boeing Observatory to learn about an Alvan Clark telescope on display.

"You can look at the sky, the sun, and the moon," added Hopkins.

Students like Iyanna will be able to access the telescope in their classrooms through a partnership between the museum and the state's education department.

With a grant from Boeing, students throughout the state will be able to control the telescope, click the camera's shutter to take images, and connect through real time distance learning with museum astronomy staff.

Teachers have already been trained in school districts including Richland One, Spartanburg Seven, Dorchestor Two, and York Three.

"Science can be very boring if it's taught just through a textbook and its theory or its abstract concepts," said South Carolina education superintendent Dr. Mick Zais.

Zais adds that says this will expose children to real-time science.

"For a student to be able to control a dome like this, to be able to hit a button on a screen and to be able to make the dome turn, to make the shutter open to take pictures right from their classroom, they're really engaged in science," said Tom Falvey, education director at the state museum. "I think a lot of students will come in here or sit in their classrooms will be inspired because they know they're doing real science

And that is an educational experience Iyanna Hopkins is looking forward to this school year.

"My favorite subject is science. I'm excited about going back to school and using different types of objects like a telescope," added Hopkins.

The South Carolina State Museum will have a grand opening for the newly added exhibits this Saturday, August 16 at 9:00 am.

Guests are encouraged to arrive early. The first 100 guests will receive free general admission and other free tickets and discounts to the museum for an entire year.

Showcases in the exhibits will be scheduled throughout Saturday.