Oh Wow Plans First InSciTe Gala for May 10

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Oh Wow! The Roger & Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science & Technology will celebrate its past and look ahead to its future at a black-tie event next month.

The inaugural InSciTe Gala will be held May 10 at the Tyler Mahoning Valley History Center downtown. InSciTe stands for “innovation, science, creativity, impact and technology,” Marvin Logan Jr., Oh Wow’s executive director, said.

The concept grew out of an acknowledgement by Oh Wow’s staff and board that events like the annual Silly Science Sunday and Science of Brewing fundraiser don’t provide an opportunity to showcase the work Oh Wow does, he said. The museum is focused on providing education experiences related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics, frequently referred to as the STEM  disciplines.

“We didn’t have an event where we will have a large captive audience to share our impact story and impact work,” he said. The gala will provide the ability “to have a more intimate experience where we could directly speak to the impact of our mission-driven work.”

Oh Wow brings in 50,000 visitors annually and serves another 25,000 during in-school and after-school programs, he said. The center also has distributed more than 500,0000 of its STEM Sak kits and offers specialty camps and professional development for teachers.  

“We have a lot to celebrate because we have something that a lot of communities our size wouldn’t even dream of having,” Wiley Runnestrand, chairman of Oh Wow’s board of directors, said.

Oh Wow also has started to pay “a really interesting role” in STEM education not just at the museum, but at area schools, he said.

During the gala, presentations will focus on what Oh Wow accomplished during its 2022 programmatic season and ties that into the scope of services offered since the center opened in 2011, Logan said.      

“We will then take a look at some of our new initiatives,” he continued. That includes Ready, Set, Go: Co-Lab, Oh Wow’s effort to infuse six of the fastest growing STEM fields – biotechnology, smart mobility, engineering energy, computer science and advanced manufacturing – into its programming.

Plans also will include providing a “sneak peek” of the upcoming Phase Four renovations that should be getting underway this spring, he said. They will include redesigning the center’s lower levels and eventually adding more “community education spaces” on the second and third floors of the Oh Wow building.

Oh Wow purchased Central Square’s McCrory Building in late 2019.

Phase Four is a $5.2 million project, about a fourth of which Oh Wow has raised, Logan said. Oh Wow has set a $25,000 fundraising goal for the gala.

“Our biggest goal is information sharing,” he said. “We will invite out attendees to join us in our mission of continuing to make STEM accessible to all of the students in the region and creating greater impact around Ohio’s movement to becoming the silicon heartland.”

In addition, awards recognizing staff and community contributions to Oh Wow will be presented during the program.

“It’s taken a lot of committed individuals to make Oh Wow happen,” he said.

He also wants to celebrate the part Oh Wow is playing in the Mahoning Valley’s comeback story.

“It’s really about laying the groundwork for where we think things are going to go in the future and how we’re going to build on that,” he said.Tickets for the gala are $100 apiece, $185 for two or $750 for a table. Tickets can be purchased HERE, where sponsorship information also is available.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.