September 11, 2008

Hall Of Heroes Unveiled

By Lori Van Ingen

Every child needs a hero, and Lancaster Science Factory has just the heroes for them - scientists, engineers and mathematicians who have changed society.

Lancaster Science Factory on Wednesday evening dedicated its Hall of Heroes in the hopes of inspiring and motivating children in Lancaster County.

"Every kid needs a hero to look up to, whose footsteps they can follow, who dreamed a big dream (and accomplished it) so they can say, 'I can dream a big dream, too,'" said James W. Bunting, president of Lancaster Science Factory.

Donors to the Science Factory's capital campaign chose the scientists, engineers and mathematicians who were inducted into the Hall of Heroes.

"They picked people who exemplified their values and connection to the mission (of the Science Factory)," said Andrea Kihlstedt, development consultant.

Jeff Lehman, president of Shank's Extracts, which was one of the Science Factory's donors, said at Wednesday's dedication that his hero, chemistry teacher Robert M. Keath, motivated him to want to learn after 11 1/2 years of slacking off at school.

"He said all you slackers can learn chemistry from now on. I took it to heart. I got the first 'A' in my life, and I became a chemistry major," Lehman said. "He inspired me to learn."

John Bergey, whose research at the former Hamilton Watch Co. produced the world's first electronic digital watch, the Pulsar, was another scientist inducted Wednesday evening.

"I'm quite honored and surprised," Bergey said. "It's a great idea (to have a Hall of Heroes). It's prime time to start teaching young children about science and technology."

Bergey said the Pulsar was born out of the failure of the electric watch.

"The Pulsar was the result of looking for a solution for a problem we couldn't solve," he said.

Jeffrey A. Way, a Hempfield High School science teacher, was posthumously inducted.

Seventeen other influential figures, including Benjamin Franklin and Sir Isaac Newton, also were inducted.

Lancaster Science Factory began its capital campaign in January 2007 and opened its doors at the former Kerr Glass factory, 454 New Holland Ave., in January.

Since its opening, there have been more than 20,000 visitors testing their scientific knowledge on the 40-plus exhibits, according to William Griscom, volunteer executive director and president of Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology.

Among the 20,000 visitors to the Science Factory are students from 16 county public school districts, 32 private schools, home- schoolers and a number of youth groups and agencies. Griscom said all of the hands-on interactive exhibits are tied to Pennsylvania System of School Assessment objectives.

"The difference between us and other places is that we don't just push buttons or follow a prescribed program," Griscom said. Visitors are allowed to go wherever they want "and are forced to learn science and technology" by trying it themselves, he said. "Plus it's a lot of fun. That's the overwhelming response we've had."

Lancaster resident Darlene Byrd, who is one of the Science Factory's 70 volunteers, said she "loves seeing the kids' faces light up. They're all running all over ... and never want to leave."

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(c) 2008 Intelligencer Journal. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.