By Mandy Stanage Shoptaw | Photography by Lori Sparkman Photography 

   IN 1979, a museum opened with a mission to promote science through learning and related STEM – Science Technology Engineering and Math – experiences. Throughout its 40 years, Mid-America Science Museum has remained relevant and continues to garner community support through special exhibitions and events like Taste of the Holidays ,which will celebrate Bonnie Swayze of Alliance Rubber Company for her civic leadership in the Hot Springs community. 

   Mid-America Science Museum Executive Director Diane LaFollette explains, “Taste of the Holidays is our largest fundraiser and supports the educational programming at the museum. The VIP Party is an exclusive celebration and is a time for our guests to mingle with this year’s award winner and enjoy signature cocktails.” Mid-America Science Museum Director of Marketing Jim Miller adds, “We chose Bonnie because as president of Alliance Rubber Company she has been a positive example for the youth in our community showing that they can aspire to be entrepreneurs in the ever-changing climate of business and manufacturing here in Arkansas.”

   Diane reflects on Bonnie’s position with a national business that distributes to companies such as Walmart and Hobby Lobby. “While leading her company, Bonnie has still found time and resources to give back to the local community and support education in Hot Springs.” Alliance Rubber Company provides materials and related programming to MASM that engage children of all ages in hands-on exploration and invention. “In the Alliance Rubber Company Tinkering Studio our visitors can use tools and ideas to tinker, explore, create and discover through an open-ended creative process, mimicking the innovation at Alliance Rubber Company,” says Diane.

   “We fully support all the museum’s educational events and outreach,” shares Bonnie. “While visiting the museum is a lot of fun, it’s also a way to enrich a child’s education and introduce them to STEM.”  Alliance Rubber Company has been a part of the Hot Springs community since 1944.  With 155 associates, Bonnie says that the Alliance Rubber Company families enjoy MASM and realize the museum’s role in the lives of all Arkansans to entertain and educate. “Mid-America Science Museum offers something for everyone, regardless of age.”

   The VIP party also recognizes a college scholarship recipient who will pursue a field in the study of sciences. “As a woman-owned small business, we support the museum’s efforts to interest young women and men in STEM,” explains Bonnie. “Last summer, we 3D printed rubber band-powered boats and other projects. This technology helps us to further our automated banding projects at Alliance.” 

   And what would a party be without a theme? Honoring the 40th anniversary of the museum, guests are encouraged to wear authentic 1979-attire. Music and decorations will complement the evening’s attire along with libations and light bites from more than 20 local eateries.


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