An Eye on Science
No doubt you are aware of the presence of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute in our community. Hopefully a few are also aware that the Institute, along with VTC, Carilion Clinic, Radford University - Carillion and RAMP is located in the City’s Innovation Corridor, a center of health care, scientific research and economic development. Did you also know we have our very own science center in downtown? The Science Museum of Western Virginia works closely with Virginia Tech University and is a key element in the area’s efforts at STEM education with great plans for the future!
The Science Museum of Western Virginia is located in Center in the Square and has as its mission to “make science and technology accessible to all people by being an outstanding regional institution that ignites and nurtures life-long learning”. The museum carries out its mission by providing interactive exhibits and programs at its Downtown location but also through an extensive array of outreach programs offered in area K-5th grade classrooms. Currently a visitor to the museum can learn about the human body through its Healthy Bodies exhibit or about the streams and rivers in our area through the Living Rivers exhibit or about space travel through their newest exhibit, Be the Astronaut.
No doubt the most exciting project the Museum has in store for the future is the redevelopment of the Hopkins Planetarium. The planetarium has been in the museum for 30 years, offering area students and residents an immersive experience of our night sky and space. However, after three decades it has begun to show its age - something newer and more innovative is needed. Through its longstanding partnership with Virginia Tech, the museum has embarked on the development of the Eye, modeled after VT’s Cube located on the Blacksburg Campus. The Eye will offer a fully immersive, 360 degree augmented reality display allowing visitors to experience data, storytelling and learning in ways never before experienced in Virginia’s Blue Ridge.
Upon opening, The Eye will be the only facility of its kind on the East Coast and offer applications ranging from professional training to 3D basketball games! Not to worry; in addition to these new offerings, The Eye will continue to provide traditional Night Sky and laser shows.
The Science Museum of Western Virginia welcomes over 38,000 area students each year helping them learn about science and technology. Who knows how many youth will have a passion for science and learning ignited while sitting in The Eye or interacting with one of the many exhibits at the museum. They may find themselves one day engaged in research at the Fralin Institute or as a surgeon at Carilion Clinic, just down at the other end of the Innovation Corridor! #roanokeinnovates