A community center for scientists

We take a step inside the Suncoast Science Center in the Sarasota, Florida area, designed for both children and tech savvy adults. The center provides access to unique tools used by engineers, designers and scientists, fostering a community where creativity and science merge.


We take a step inside the Suncoast Science Center in the Sarasota, Florida, area designed for both children and tech-savvy adults.

The center provides access to unique tools used by engineers, designers, and scientists, fostering a community where creativity and science merge.

Here's a look.


Our overall mission is to activate, to reinstall the passion of the children and of the adults in the community and explore the physical world around us.

As the executive director of the Suncoast Science Center, Ping Faulhaber established science summer camps for the youth of Sarasota.

Well, summer's a time that school's out.

So it's a perfect time for us to get them coming here to learn about science, to have fun.

Science is the cornerstone to every project here.

Education coordinator Jennifer Holt makes the activities relevant to the students.

They're actually creating their very own stickers.

So, they designed all of their decals, they're little vinyl decals.

They designed them all on CorelDRAW, which is a two-dimensional program.

And so once they had it just how they liked it, then we came over to the vinyl cutting machine and they were able to have that cut out into sticker form.

There's a little transfer paper that we put it on, and now they've brought it home so they can go and stick it on whatever they'd like.

In this fab creations class, the campers learn to go from design to manufacturing.

So they're actually learning how to look at a picture, being able to take that into a bitmap format, deleting all the lines that they don't need or want.

Our laser etcher and our vinyl cutter both have different types of cuts.

So they will put their picture up, they'll put it through, and it won't come out quite how they wanted it to, and we start to talk about why.

So they're problem-solving, as well.

This decorative box is another project created during summer camp.

So they actually have little bedside lamps that they customized and made.

And they were actually soldering the electronics for that today and also finishing up gluing the wooden pieces around the box and inserting all of the electronics inside.

So not only are they learning the mechanics of actually soldering the pieces together and making that circuit, but they're also learning the science of the electronics and how they actually go together, where that electricity is flowing, and which way it does and does not work.

My favorite part was the art box because we used soldering and circuitry.

I would recommend it because it's really fun, you learn stuff, and it actually helps you with your brain and learning.

This is the electro lab class, where middle schoolers are delving into the world of electronics and computers.

This week the kids are learning about circuitry engineering, electromagnetic energy, programming logic.

So they're working with littleBits circuits and a product called Makey Makey.

So it's a really fantastic opportunity for experiential learning.

One of the projects that we worked on this week was creating robots out of cardboard boxes.

So they used the littleBits circuitry that they're using now to create their obstacle courses and they had to design a robot and we raced them.

Their final project required the use of circuitry, alarms, sensors, and structural design.

Their goal is to create an obstacle course that's by theme so that an opposing team member tries to traverse their obstacle course.

And they try to set up traps and alarms based on the inputs and outputs and circuitry that they've learned during the week.

They have motion sensors, pressure sensors, sound sensors, and they figure out how to put all of that together to create an obstacle course.

So, in order for their inputs and their outputs to work correctly, again, they also understand about electromagnetic energy, about circuitry, about programming logic.

So they're using all of that, but they're really just having fun.

I didn't really know much about, like, electricity or anything.

And so I learned a lot here, and I had a really good time, too.

I would recommend this to one of my friends because I thought it was really enjoyable and educational, and I just thought that it was a really good time.

Team Chaos created an impenetrable obstacle course.

We put tinfoil and a sound trigger inside so when they stepped on the tinfoil, it would cause the sound trigger to go off.

It was really fun to make this.

It took a lot of teamwork and, like, just a bunch a different ideas being put into it, and we would change different things around after they wouldn't work.

I would definitely recommend it to a friend because you learn about circuitry and alarm systems.

You can create a lot of cool things like a fruit orchestra where you can press on fruits and they'll make different sounds.

[ Notes playing ]

So I hope that they understand that technology are not just objects that they can use, but they're powerful tools that they can use to create so that as they continue their education, hopefully they'll be inspired to go into engineering fields and understand that they can create these devices, they can come up with an idea like they're doing now and use their knowledge to invent something completely new.

The Suncoast Science Center is not just for children.

They also have the Faulhaber FAB LAB -- a digital fabrication lab.

Here, high-tech equipment like 3D printers, routers, and lathes are available for people to design and create their own projects.

It's very important to be able to offer this equipment so people can actually make their product.

And a lot of people have ideas in their head.

Where are they gonna go?

There's no places.

And a lot of them, people couldn't afford them to have in their home or they don't have the space for it.

So it makes perfect sense to have in the community a central place that people can come here to build their dream.

A place to build your dreams is a place for scientists to explore.

If you have a community that doesn't have a science center, there's not a place for you to actually go and practice science and get better at science.

And this is true of not only kids, but also for adults, as well.

It's really important for a community to be scientifically literate.

The center has been in operation for a little over a year.

But Ping sees this place as a vital part of the Sarasota community.

We envision in three, five years we'll have so many activities, this place's gonna be so packed you won't be able to come in and, you know, it'll become like a fun playground -- a science playground.

A place to play, explore, experiment, discover -- the Suncoast Science Center is helping young and old to imagine the future.

Yeah, so we're undefeated!