- Associated Press - Monday, January 12, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The Gateway to Science Center in Bismarck is planning to build a $40 million facility on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River.

The project will enable the center to expand from a hands-on science facility for children into one for all ages, Executive Director Beth Demke told The Bismarck Tribune (https://bit.ly/1y4AcXc ).

“It will make us a destination, not only for families with small children, but for all visitors to this area,” she said.

The science center, which is funded by admission fees, memberships and donations and bills itself as the only hands-on science center in the state, occupies 3,200 square feet on the Bismarck State College campus. Organizers plan to begin public fundraising in the spring, with hopes of breaking ground by August on a 65,000-square-foot building on a bluff to the west.

The goal is to open the new facility in the spring of 2017. The building will be strategically placed so visitors can view how different sciences are being applied throughout the community.

“The topics we will be able to cover will be multiplied tenfold,” Demke said.

Gallery space, where science exhibits are displayed, will grow from 2,500 square feet at the current facility to 27,000 square feet. The also will be a 200-seat theater.

“We will have an education wing that will give us two classrooms plus a laboratory,” Demke said. “The laboratory classroom will be critical to what we do for teaching science. It will be at a high school level. We can do high school level home-school classes. We can do summer classes for teachers and students.”

Piquing interest of younger children in science will remain a mission, according to Demke.

“It’s important to get them interested in science. If you don’t get kids excited by the time they are in fourth or fifth grade, you’ve lost them,” she said.

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com

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