READING, Pa. - A science center that's been years in the making is just a few days away from opening.
"Interactive science learning is fun," said local engineer Jim Cinelli.
Cinelli is the brains behind the Reading Science Center, which is getting ready to open its doors to the public on Saturday.
"The STEM movement in the United States, which has been going on for at least 20 years, is really focused on maintaining our country's economic competitiveness," said Cinelli.
The approximately 30 exhibits, many of which were either donated, purchased from other institutions, or crafted locally, provide hands-on opportunities for kids to be able to get some exposure to the STEM sector in an engaging way.
He cited one study that shows STEM centers are impactful for kids, but they have to visit them three times or more before 7th grade.
"That's one of the reasons we wanted to be in downtown Reading," said Cinelli. "We have a pretty large under-served population in the city and we wanted to make it very accessible to the community."
He said, according to the U.S. Department of Labor, 50% of the country's economic growth will be from the technology sector, but only 5% of the population is employed in technology.
"We can't afford to not have children get into STEM careers," said Cinelli. "We need to keep a pipeline of scientists and engineers and technicians moving along to keep our STEM businesses employed."