Science Mill to open in the Hill Country

JOHNSON CITY, Texas (KXAN) –There’s a new learning opportunity coming to the Hill Country. Construction on the Hill Country Science Mill in Johnson City began earlier this year.

The non-profit is transforming Johnson City’s historic feed mill into a multi-building facility with exhibits that concentrate on the STEM subjects for middle and high school students.

Dr. Bonnie Baskin is the founder of the center. She and her husband are scientists. They settled in Johnson City and fell in love with the Hill Country.

Baskin says she brings her love of science to the project. The goal is to connect children to the science that impacts their daily life and spark an interest in that career field.

“There seems to be a disconnect with them seeing all these fun exciting things but yet realizing themselves or imagining themselves as having a career in this,” said Dr. Bonnie Baskin, Hill Country Science Mill founder.

The plans preserve much of the historic mill’s architecture including the next door original grocery store and silos.

“There’s a tremendous history here and it actually was science you back in that time,” said Baskin. “So, for us it’s really fascinating to maintain as much of the old buildings and old sense of what happened here. Then, within the bones of this building, the history of this building, to really create what is now new science.”

Exhibits in the silos will revolve around the theme “making the invisible, visible.”

“A visitor will be able to walk into the exhibit and see their cell phone’s electromagnetic waves light up thousands of led lights,” said Holly Barton, project manager.

“One of the exhibits will focus on aquifers and groundwater,” said Barton. “What we want to do is really show people, young people in particular is what is an aquifer, why is it important, where is it. Sometimes, when we can’t see anything we don’t think it’s there.”

The next door original grocery store will house a café, 3-D science theater and a 4-foot sphere that will display images like the globe’s weather.

The learning also goes beyond the 15,000 square foot facility. Visitors will be able to choose their favorite exhibits and connect with an online portal to explore career opportunities within that subject.

“I hope they walk away saying this is the coolest place I’ve even been to,” said Baskin.

Funding comes from private and corporate sources as well as public grants. Grants from the Pedernales Electric Cooperative and the Lower Colorado River Authority will go toward named exhibits.

Doors are scheduled to open in November 2014.

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