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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Flandrau Science Center reopens with new exhibits

    The Flandrau Science Center reopens today with old favorites, such as the planetarium, and new features, including a design garage, inside its walls.

    The science center, 1601 E. University Blvd., has been closed since the first week of September 2005, when it shut down in order to focus on the development of the new UA Science Center. This was the first major close for the center since its initial opening in 1975.

    Rob Vugteveen, director of marketing and outreach for Flandrau, said he is excited to see how the new exhibits have an impact on the crowds, but he warned people not to expect a completely new experience.

    “”They shouldn’t expect to see a bright, shining new science center,”” Vugteveen said. “”We’re developing prototype exhibits for the new science center.””

    Vugteveen explained that while the type of exhibits vary, they nearly all pertain to the theme of spinning. He hopes it is a theme that the community can not only enjoy, but interact with.

    “”(The exhibits) have something to do with spinning,”” Vugteveen said. “”The goal in the prototyping process has a lot to do with not just the specifics of what the exhibits covers, but how people interact with the exhibits. We want exhibits that involve people in different way. We want multiple folks involved, so we’re inviting the community to help us in this prototyping process.””

    Also new is an inflatable planetarium dome with digital imaging that will be used for testing. While it’s not available to the public every day, scheduled visitors will have the opportunity to observe the testing.

    While the spinning exhibits and inflatable planetarium provide ample new material for the center, the old favorites will be returning as well, according to Vugteveen.

    “”We continue to have the free public observatory and the UA mineral museum,”” he said. “”We also have some community favorites in the planetarium, shows that were very popular.””

    Additionally, the Flandrau Center is teaming up with the City of Tucson in building the UA Science Center, which would be part of Rio Nuevo.

    The institute would add several new aspects to Tucson’s world of science, including a 24-hour observatory, teacher resource center, and café and science gift shop. Also to be included is a giant screen theater, which will feature films shot in IMAX-like technology. While a date has not been set for construction, city officials hope to see plans finalized by the end of the year.

    Until then, the Flandrau Science Center will be Tucson and the UA’s main source of science. The price of admission is $2.50, but that may rise at a later date, Vugteveen said.

    Vugteveen said he is unsure of the future attendance of the center, but he hopes the crowds will show up in order to both enjoy the exhibits and further develop the prototypes.

    “”We haven’t even speculated on that,”” Vugteveen said. “”Our goal is to get the community in the process of developing new exhibits for the science center. It will be as successful as people are willing to come and participate in this prototype exhibit process.””

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