Reading Science Center: Coming…Soon

We here at Dust Nuggets Central are very pleased our good friend, Jim Cinelli, has a project that is coming to fruition this year. Jim very graciously allowed us to use his Loft space on Penn Street for the Dust Nuggets fundraiser back in ’18. He’s a great pal and we are very proud of his latest venture: The Reading Science Center in Reading, PA.

Depending on the trajectory of the Corona pandemic this museum should be opening late spring/early summer. The timing constraint is sort of ironic, since a cornerstone of the Science Center is what they call the wet biology lab. It has seven stations dedicated to hands-on experiencing of microbiology. Each station has a light microscope hooked up to a camera which in turn is attached to a monitor. Gone are the days of bleary, one-eyed observation of the cellular world, trying to distinguish between the endoplasmic reticulum and the mitochondria. Now you point and click and there it is on the screen: ER, mighty mito, vacuoles, nucleolus, Golgi bodies, everything all right there larger than life. Literally. 

Stations in the cell lab include the study of: cheek cells, chromosomes, Powering the brain, enzymes and more. There’s even one entitled Mystery Microbes which is timely considering our current state. All stations will most likely use artificial tissue for study to preclude the use of actual samples that are hard to find, let alone illegal to use without a permit. Artificial blood, saliva, etc.

A spatula separating light into its red, green, blue components.

Other disciplines highlighted in the Science Center include engineering, electricity, light and sound, forces and motion, and vision. Our favorite exhibit was in the light section. It had an instrument that separated light falling on basic kitchen tools, separating it into its component red, green, and blue. Light is composed of these three colors and if it’s shone on a particularly interesting spatula, it breaks into fantastical colorful patterns. Without separation, the three primaries combine to make white light. Great demonstration of a common but somewhat abstract phenomenon.

Most of the exhibits for the museum have not made it there yet. Some are being shipped from other places like the Science Museum of Minnesota. A good number are being built by local groups such as Habitat for Humanity and the school districts of Exeter and Governor Mifflin. Even individuals such as Steve Vida are donating time to build demonstrations, such as the exhibit on mechanical energy being transformed into electrical energy. You turn a crank on the left, flip a switch, and a lightbulb on the right glows. Law of Conservation of Energy wins again.

The centerpiece of the museum is the 1/20thsize model of Saturn V, used on Apollo 11. It’ll be placed in the atrium entrance to the museum and anchor the exhibit on all things NASA. 

Kudos to Jim Cinelli, the Science Center board, and all the volunteers working on this project. Watch the skies for announcements of the actual opening once this Corona what-have-you has passed.

And while we’re waiting, check out the Dust Nuggets trailer, which will likewise be here soon.

Reading Science Center will be located at:
645 Penn Street,
Reading, PA 19601

By the way, the Center is looking for volunteers. Don’t hesitate!

Anonymous performer at the Dust Nuggets fundraiser in Jim Cinelli’s Loft. (photo by Jeff Stoltzfus)

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