When Gateway to Science opened in November 1994, my husband Keith and I had daughters in 4th grade and kindergarten. We soon joined other families (Frank and Kay Koch, Dave and Connie Sprynczynatyk, Gregg and Sandy Wiche, Alan and Karen Traeholt, Tina Stroh, and others) volunteering together to inspire the discovery of science through hands-on experiences. This vision reached beyond our own families, which is why so many of us have remained involved with Gateway to Science even as our children have grown and now have children of their own.

For 25 years, I have been honored to lead this organization, and we’ve expanded on the original vision to the point where we can imagine a stand-alone, state-of-the-art science center on the campus of Bismarck State College. This connection continues the partnership established by our founding scientist, former BSC chemistry professor Frank Koch. Frank wanted to create a place for science that would draw individuals of all ages. More importantly, he wanted to ensure that those who visited the center would be able to have fun, use their hands (and brains), and interact not only with the displays, but also with each other – sometimes not even noticing that they were learning because they were having such a good time.

Keith and I dedicated our first capital campaign pledge to the Frank Koch Laboratory Classroom, in memory of Frank and the influence he had on my life’s work. Now that we are in the public phase of the capital campaign, we are making a second pledge. This pledge will be dedicated to the Working Water exhibit in the new gallery in recognition of Keith’s life work. He retired as Public Works Director with the City of Bismarck after 30 years of service. It is our hope that by experimenting in the lab classroom and exploring in the exhibits gallery children will spark a lifelong passion for STEM learning.

Just as our daughters enjoyed the time they spent immersed in activities at the science center, our grandchildren now enjoy their visits to Gateway to Science. For Keith and me, the vision remains. We have witnessed the importance of Gateway to Science for our family and our community as a whole, and our commitment is stronger than ever.

I encourage you to consider what Gateway to Science means to your family and to your community. If you believe, as Frank did, that all children should be inspired to explore science, technology, engineering and math in a hands-on setting, then please join our efforts. Make your own pledge today. Let’s make this vision a reality!

~Beth Demke, Executive Director

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