Oh Wow Raises $871K Toward STEM Stars Launch

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — OH WOW! The Roger and Gloria Jones Children’s Center for Science and Technology has raised $871,100 toward its launch of The Next Generation of STEM Stars.

For nearly a decade, the science center has provided its brand of “EDUtainment” to “tens of thousands of families annually,” said its president and executive director, Suzanne Barbati, in a release. On Dec. 16 at 12:30 p.m., it will complete the purchase of the McRory Building downtown, providing room for expansion and allowing Oh Wow to advance its STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — education.

Oh Wow will purchase the building from First National Bank, a long-time partner and legacy sponsor of the organization that has contributed more than $1 million to the organization through years of reduced rent and a lowered sales price, as well as thousands of dollars in direct grants and sponsorships, Barbati said.

“After almost 10 years of partnering with FNB to providing world-class STEM EDUtainment, we’re excited to continue our rich tradition of creating opportunities for children throughout the community to learn through hands-on, interactive STEM-based exhibits and programs,” Barbati said. “Helping address the regional and national need to better prepare our children, their children and their grandchildren for the STEM-careers of tomorrow is critical to our organization’s vision.”

In November, Barbati reported the purchase will increase available exhibit space by 70%. Currently, the museum occupies about 19,000 square feet. Built in 1910, the building is valued at $790,240, Mahoning County property records showed last month.

When the purchase is complete, Oh Wow will reorient its entrance to Market Street from West Federal Street to better showcase the museum and allow for a bus drop-off area. Administrative offices will be moved to the second floor, freeing lower level space for exhibits. Oh Wow looks to add three new exhibits in 2020, including the visiting “Velocity” exhibit that focuses on cars, friction, speed and math.

Looking to the future, Barbati said the museum appreciates the continued support of FNB and the Mahoning and Shenango valleys, as well as the early investors in The Next Generation of STEM Stars campaign, according to the release.

“FNB is proud of how far OH WOW! has come over the last decade and of our financial contributions to the organization to ensure that children in Youngstown and across the region enjoy fun, stimulating educational programs,” said Vincent J. Delie Jr., chairman, president and CEO of F.N.B. Corp. and First National Bank. “Investing in today’s youth and future generations is a major component of FNB’s community involvement, as we work toward promoting financial education among children throughout our footprint.”

To donate to the Next Generation of STEM Stars Campaign, visit OhWowKids.org. For inquiries, please contact Suzanne Barbati at 330 744 5914 or director@ohwowkids.org.

Copyright 2020 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.