Wednesday, June 20 , 2018, 6:14 pm | Fair 66º

 
 
 
 

MOXI Eager to Launch a New Era of Discovery — for All Ages — in Santa Barbara

The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation nearing fundraising goals while preparing to become Santa Barbara County’s center for STEM education

Steve Hinkley, president and CEO of MOXI: The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation, is excited about the new museum’s opportunity to promote science, technology, engineering and math. “Our mission is to ignite learning and scientific creativity through interactive opportunities that work with all ages, from pre-K through gray,” he says. Click to view larger
Steve Hinkley, president and CEO of MOXI: The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation, is excited about the new museum’s opportunity to promote science, technology, engineering and math. “Our mission is to ignite learning and scientific creativity through interactive opportunities that work with all ages, from pre-K through gray,” he says. (J.C. Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

[Noozhawk’s note: First in a series sponsored by the Hutton Parker Foundation.]

Santa Barbara County’s first museum dedicated entirely to the discovery and enjoyment of science, technology, engineering and math will wrap up construction this summer. Then comes the good stuff: installation of eight custom-designed and custom-fabricated themed areas focused on STEM fun.

When it opens its doors before year’s end, MOXI: The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation at 125 State St., will offer more than 17,000 square feet of hands-on exhibits accessible to members, schools, youth organizations and the general public.

“Our mission is to ignite learning and scientific creativity through interactive opportunities that work with all ages, from pre-K through gray,” said Steve Hinkley, MOXI’s president and CEO.

Hinkley became the project’s first official staff member in March 2015, some 16 years after volunteers began developing the idea of what initially was a children’s museum.

Through surveys, discussions with educators and other organizations, the $25 million project morphed to an all-ages science center designed to address a demonstrated need for improved STEM education.

According to data provided by the National Science Foundation, American fourth-graders ranked 11th in the world in math and seventh in science, and eighth-graders ranked ninth in math and 10th in science.

By age 15, American students fell to 27th in math and 20th in science, with no measurable change in test scores between 2006 and the latest 2012 data.

“The U.S. is far behind, and often schools teach to the test rather than teaching creatively,” said Chris Kroes, MOXI first vice president and one of the board’s longest-standing members.

“This museum offers a place where children of all ages can learn about STEM subjects with hands-on experiences in a way that’s fun and interesting for them.”

MOXI supporters hope to help swing those numbers, and provide today’s youth with access to the jobs of tomorrow, through interactive learning projects on site and an extensive outreach program serving the entire Central Coast.

“We want our visitors to make, tinker, anything to get them engaged and active in the learning process,” Hinkley added. “Whether they come one time or 100 times in their lives, we hope to help shape the way they see the world around them, to help them begin to think about how they might tackle some of the big challenges for all of us: transportation, food, water, energy.

The front tower of MOXI: The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation already has become a distinctive landmark at 125 State St., across the railroad tracks from Santa Barbara’s train station. Click to view larger
The front tower of MOXI: The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation already has become a distinctive landmark at 125 State St., across the railroad tracks from Santa Barbara’s train station. (J.C. Corliss / Noozhawk photo)

“All those solutions are deeply rooted in science.”

By the time the museum opens, it expects to employ more than 20 full- and part-time employees as well as a team of community volunteers.

The energy-efficient and water-efficient facility, located across the train tracks from the Amtrak station, will be the first Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED)-certified museum in the county.

The museum’s interactive exhibits, designed by award-winning museum planning firm Gyroscope Inc., align with the national agenda to boost student achievement in math and science.

MOXI is currently engaged in a $25 million capital campaign to fund the building, exhibits and an endowment for the future. Through its early, whisper stage, the project raised $21 million through donations from board members, grants and “early angels,” board president Jill Levinson said.

“It’s been nontraditional, particularly in a town where there are lots of capital campaigns,” she said. “We’re lucky we’ve had a number of folks who have been believers and understand the importance of what we’re doing with the community and what we’re trying to do for the kids.

“Now the train has pulled out of the station and there’s no stopping it.”

Click here for more information about MOXI, or contact the organization at [email protected] or 805.708.2282. Click here to make an online donation.

Noozhawk contributing writer Jennifer Best can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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