Oh Wow Gears Up for Birthday, Expanded Hours
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Oh Wow! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology will celebrate 11 years of operation Saturday as it prepares to expand its hours and heads into one of its busiest summers in a while, its executive director said.
This will be the first birthday celebration since Marvin Logan took over as Oh Wow’s executive director last fall, and the first one he has been able to attend, he said. He has attended Oh Wow’s Silly Science Sunday in the past.
“So I’ve been able to see what it looks like when we’re capturing magic in and engaging our explorers,” he remarked.
“This is kind of a throwback to some of our previous birthday celebrations,” Colleen ruby, director of visitor services, said. In 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Oh Wow held a virtual birthday celebration and last year’s celebration marked its grand reopening following building renovations that included installation of new exhibits and reorientation of the main entrance to the east of the building.
The event, which will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the local science center, will include a fort building activity, glow dance party, STEM SAK assembly in the InspireWorks lab and spring raffle ticket sales, as well as food and cake, she said. They are planning for about 300 people to attend.
Those attending can register in advance or purchase tickets at the front desk, she said.
“We are very much looking forward to this birthday as a kickoff to some exciting things,” Logan said. Beginning May 19, Oh Wow will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday through Sunday, and will no longer close at midday.
Among the summer activities planned are a series of camps that Oh Wow will be conducting on its own and in partnership with other entities, he said. Programs are planned throughout the Mahoning Valley, with schedules to be posted on the science center’s website and via its social media platforms, he added.
“We have a robust summer planned. This is arguably going to be one of Oh Wow’s biggest and busiest summers that we’ve had for some time,” he said. In the fall, after children return to school, the intent is to expand days of operations and resume a more traditional schedule.
Oh Wow has faced a couple obstacles to expanding hours, he said. That included repairing damage to the building caused by a malfunction of its heating/ventilation/air conditioning system that caused overheating. The malfunction left the system nonfunctional and caused cosmetic and water damage. The systems are now under repair and should be restored to full functionality by fall, he reported.
The main issue is staffing, he acknowledged. The current staff is at 12 but will be down one with the impending departure of an employee who is graduating and moving on to other opportunities.
“Our biggest thing is taking the lean COVID team that we’ve operated on for the past year and being able to add to that so that not only can we make sure we’re providing that wonderful service here within the center but also being able to continue running the outstanding outreach programs that we do in school and after school throughout the community,” he said.
Oh Wow also is progressing on phase four of its fundraising campaign and renovations. In March, Logan outlined plans that included a potential outdoor lab and expanding the center’s footprint downtown. The center is “on pace” to begin construction of the turnaround in front of Oh Wow’s building, likely in fall 2023, he said.
Interior plans include lighting upgrades for energy efficiency, accessibility improvements and renovations to increase capacity for activities in and outside of the building.
“Our hope is that we’ll be able to close out the capital campaign on phase four by the end of next year and be able to have all the construction complete between now and 2024,” he said.
Pictured at top: Oh Wow Executive Director Marvin Logan.
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.