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Science celebration: Headwaters Science Center marks 25 years in Bemidji

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A Headwaters Science Center volunteer helps Shelby Wendorff and her daughter Mallory Wendorff make slime during the center’s 25th birthday celebration on Saturday. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)2 / 5
Lincoln Keeley, 7, asks Angie Morales, of the Headwaters Science Center, a questions about the red-tailed hawk during a raptor demonstration at the center’s 25th birthday celebration on Saturday. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)3 / 5
Sisters Isabelle Peabody, left, and Abigail Peabody play with the flow motion exhibit at the Headwaters Science Center’s 25th birthday celebration on Saturday. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)4 / 5
Angie Morales holds up Oswald, a great horned owl, during a raptor demonstration at the Headwaters Science Center’s 25th birthday celebration on Saturday. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)5 / 5

BEMIDJI—A staple of Bemidji's downtown is celebrating a quarter-century of bringing science to everyone.

The Headwaters Science Center has been educating the area's residents for 25 years and this weekend, the non-profit invited in the community for a free day of exhibits for its own birthday party.

"We're really excited to be celebrating our 25th year," said Annie Butler Ricks, the center's executive director. "It's pretty unique to have a science center in a mid-size city, let alone a city of Bemidji's size. We have it because of the community, due to a lot of dedicated people who volunteer and donate their time and money."

Butler Ricks was named executive director in May 2017 and oversees a facility that welcomes more than 20,000 visitors annually. However, Butler Ricks said the center does more than just operate the exhibits seen by those who step inside.

"It's a place that has a lot going on. We do after school science clubs, we host community events around science and we go out to schools and do programming there," Butler Ricks said. "Science education is really important. Studies show that by third or fourth grade, children can decide whether they like science or not.

"That decision impacts their future," Butler Ricks said. "It impacts what electives they take, it impacts college classes. If we can help these kids have positive experiences with science, then it can impact what their careers are going to be."

In the years ahead, Butler Ricks said the hope is to provide visitors with newer things to see and bring in those who might not have had interest before.

"We are really working on getting new exhibits. Many of ours are really old, so we want to update them," Butler Ricks said. "In doing so, we want to have more exhibits appealing to a broader range of people. To get more exhibits appealing to middle school and high school age students."

Matthew Liedke

Matthew Liedke is the city, county and state government reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. He also covers business, politics and financial news.

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