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ScienceWorks plans to send science offerings to you

ASHLAND — ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum plans to take some of its offerings outside its walls by distributing kits of scientific instruments and activities to the community.

A fundraising campaign for the new initiative, called ScienceWorks Everywhere, is underway. It’s the museum’s response to a difficult nine months, underlined by the COVID-19 pandemic and the destructive Almeda and South Obenchain fires.

ScienceWorks, like many area businesses and nonprofits, has had to make significant adjustments to its day-to-day operations and reduce its hours. On Thursday, it announced it would be closing until January 2021.

“It’s been a crazy, crazy year, and we want to continue serving our community,” said Heather Saigo, the museum’s director of philanthropy, communications and media. “We thought, ‘What do we do well?’ We do hands-on science, but we can’t have people into the museum to do that as much.”

The solution was to bring that science to future scientists instead. Details for the initiative are still being worked out, including what will go into the kits, though Saigo thinks much of what is included will be more specialized equipment, not just run-of-the-mill instruments and materials you can find in your kitchen or garage.

“When you give folks tools, they feel associated with professional science, they really feel connected to that community of practice,” Saigo said.

A GoFundMe campaign intended to raise money for the materials is underway. But whether the resulting kits contain pipettes, test tubes, beakers, all of the above, or something else entirely, museum officials hope to distribute 3,000 of them, possibly through partnerships with library service districts and the Southern Oregon Education Service District.

“We’re starting with local students, but I think it could go beyond the area,” Saigo said. “This is our way of really meeting needs and really helping our community doing what we do.”

For more information about the program, see scienceworksmuseum.org/everywhere.

Reach Mail Tribune web editor Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or rpfeil@rosebudmedia.com.