March 2, 2017. The program featured Lin Erickson who is the Executive Director and CEO of the Da Vinci Science Center located on the campus of Cedar Crest College. The Center’s mission is to bring science to life and lives to science. Everything at Da Vinci revolves around science, technology, engineering, and mathematics which can be represented by the acronym “STEM”. The Center strives to provide leadership for STEM education and to inspire students to consider careers in STEM-related fields. Twenty percent of jobs in the Lehigh Valley require some form of STEM expertise and these jobs pay an average of $20,000 more than non-STEM jobs.
Da Vinci is a popular destination for school field trips with age-specific programming for students from Pre-K through 12th grade. Workshops include: See like A Bee, Slime Science, and Roller Coaster Engineer. An outreach mobile program reaches 40,000 students/year. The Center is facing a major problem… it is too popular. Attendance has increased from 82,000 to 142,000 in five years. There is a need for a bold expansion. A site search has been narrowed down to the corner of South Third Street and Larry Holmes Drive in downtown Easton. The ambitious plans for the new Center include a 60,000 square-foot science center, the largest public aquarium in Pennsylvania, an immersive giant screen theater, and a destination aquarium restaurant and event center.
The price tag for all of this is $130 million. The City of Easton has already pledged up to $30 million. Feasibility studies are underway and expected to last for over a year. The hope is to open the Center in 2021. The completed project will create 200 new jobs and produce an estimated annual economic impact of $105 million.