Spark! Knowledge

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Photography by Lori Sparkman Photography

   The Spark! Gala celebrates the continued mission work of the Museum of Discovery: to ignite and fuel passion for science, technology, engineering, arts and math through dynamic experiences. It provides critical support for the museum’s programs that enrich the lives and minds of the youth in Arkansas. Chairman Dan Williams and former Spark! Star Lori Burrows will welcome guests, along with an impressive group of Museum of Discovery Spark! Star honorees, to this year’s festivities in the new + improved museum.

   Like many families, Lori was initially introduced to Museum of Discovery through visits with her young daughters. “It’s such an inviting space, full of curiosities and hands-on fun. I love that there is something for every learning style, every level of ability and every age of exploration.” After her girls enjoyed summer camps at the museum, Lori hosted the Girls in STEM program participants for an Arkansas energy day at the offices of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Corporation. Lori enthusiastically joined Dan in planning this year’s Spark! Gala because she knows the impact the museum makes in the lives of students across Arkansas. Dan adds, “There’s no better time for kids to get involved in STEM than when they’re young, elementary age. And that’s exactly what the Museum of Discovery is doing – providing the spark that can change a kid’s life.” 

   Dan began his career at Garver and recently retired after nearly four decades as a civil engineer. He has enjoyed collaborating with Lori and the Museum of Discovery team to find this year’s Spark! Stars that represent diverse industries. “From medicine to confectionery, what the stars have in common is the way in which they’ve applied the range of STEM principles to their work. It’s a wonderful example for kids to see there are so many ways that STEM can be incorporated into a career path.” Lori elaborates, “I am humbled by the willingness of each Spark! Star who agreed to be honored.” All of the stars are recognized for professional excellence in careers that require the intensive study of science, technology, engineering, arts or math. “The museum experienced one of the most devastating years in its history; I am proud to be a small part of building on its 100-year legacy.”  

   After more than six months of repairs and renovations, a result of flooding during the snowstorms in early 2021, the Museum of Discovery opened with new experiences and fun for all. Some old favorites make appearances; many of the exhibits are shared with other science museums and represent collaborations that strengthen the national STEM initiative. Museum of Discovery CEO Kelley Bass emphasizes that the MOD team and the design firm are working diligently to meet an August 2023 installation date. “But we also have another exciting development – a huge, three-tower climbing structure that should debut by August 2022 and undoubtedly will be the most popular attraction we’ve ever had. Meanwhile, we’re seeing great turnout, and all the comments from guests have been very positive. So please come check out the ‘new’ museum, and remember our Spark! Gala.”

   The gala will feature science demonstrations and interactive activities throughout the museum. Proceeds support programs like Science For All, Animal Ambassador Program and Girls in STEM. Lori and Dan guarantee guests will be impressed. Lori adds, “Expect to be inspired and engaged to help ensure the museum is around for future generations to create more Spark! Stars who make our state and world better.”

Spark! Stars:
Jean Block – Little Rock Water Reclamation Authority 
Scott Copas – Baldwin & Shell Construction Company
Shannon Hendrix – Arkansas Children’s Northwest
Laura Landreaux – Entergy Arkansas LLC
Brittany Goings Marsh – Cornerstone Pharmacy
Karama Neal – United States Federal Government
Carmen Portillo – Cocoa Belle Chocolates
Tim Whitley – MHP/Team SI Family of Companies

Spark! Luncheon | Monday, October 25 | museumofdiscovery.org/event/spark-luncheon2021     
Spark! Gala | Tuesday, November 2 | museumofdiscovery.org/event/spark2021

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