Roper Mountain Science Center continues to inspire new generations of scientists

Although many people in the upstate may only be familiar with the Roper Mountain Science Center (RMSC) Due to the annual holiday light show that attracted tens of thousands of families each year in December, the centre’s main mission has been to provide hands-on science education to students in the region.

First of all, it has been around for a long time

According to director Michael Weeks, since it opened in 1985, the center has transformed the abstract scientific concepts taught in classrooms into something tangible for students.

“It’s a great equalizer for kids,” Weeks says. “I think that’s one of my favorite things about Roper Mountain – it inspires kids who might not be inspired in class.”

From learning about the cosmos at the Charles E. Daniel Observatory – home to the continent’s eighth largest refractive telescope – to interacting and learning about animals from various South Carolina habitats, students can see how science explains and describes the real world.

‘A place of’ yes’

Students’ interest and enthusiasm was palpable on a recent field trip to the science center by Kristy Peace’s sophomores at Stone Academy, who had not been on a field trip for two years due to COVID-related restrictions.

“They have been so excited because they haven’t done a field trip since they were in kindergarten,” Peace says

She adds that her students’ experience is particularly impactful, as many of her students may never travel to a salt marsh or see animals and plants found in other parts of South Carolina.

Amanda Lenar, community engagement specialist at RMSC, explains that this is one of the reasons she likes to describe the science center as the “place of ‘yes'” where students are encouraged to touch and engage with numerous exhibits, demonstrations and animals.

50,000 students per year pass through

Weeks says that as part of schools in Greenville County (the state’s largest public school district), the center can serve students at no cost and only charges a nominal fee for students in other districts.

Overall, the center welcomes more than 50,000 students per year from 45 school districts in 23 counties in South Carolina.

Weeks says the types of interactive experiences students have at the center can have a huge impact on their future academic performance and career choices.

“What we can do is take something that’s words on a page or an image and bring it to life,” he says.

For more information on Roper Mountain Science Center, visit ropermountain.org.

Daniel Observatory at Roper Mountain Science Center
Photo provided

Open to the public

The RMSC is open to the public in the afternoons and weekends. The popular Friday Starry Night programs at the Daniel Observatory feature laser light shows inside the parties in December. Visit ropermountain.org for schedules.

Fast facts on the Daniel Observatory telescope

  • Width: 23 inches
  • Built: 1882
  • Former residences: Princeton University and US Naval Observatory
One of the interactive features of the Sustainable Future exhibition. Photo by Alex Cooper.

Most recent addition

The building of the environment and sustainability: 7 classrooms, several exhibitions linked to the essential role of water in plant, animal and human life.

Nature exchange where students can bring in items they have found while exploring the outdoors. They discover the objects and earn points for “buying” things like seashells, geodes and other interesting objects.

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