Many of us enjoy fun, inspiring visits to McWane Science Center. But, some Birmingham area residents can’t afford to go. Two young sisters aspired to change that by creating the Beaker Seekers campaign with the goal of helping low-income school children enjoy a field trip to McWane Science Center.
Meet Ann Harper and Reese, the young duo behind the creation of the Beaker Seekers.
Ann Harper is a 6th grader who is full of inspiring and sophisticated ideas and loves the diversity science offers.
“It’s very broad. One day I could be obsessed with robotics and the next I could be obsessed with chemistry. There are no limits to science,” Ann Harper said.
Reese, who is in 5th grade, is silly and sweet-natured with a huge heart.
While Reese loves science experiments—she is a “professional” slime maker and loves to create things like slippers and pencil pouches out of duct tape—her real interest in science blossomed when her best friend was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.
“Science discovers cures. If it wasn’t for science, my best friend wouldn’t be alive,” Reese said.
The Beaker Seekers
Beaker Seekers is a scholarship campaign developed for McWane Science Center’s Scholarship Fundraising Campaign that supports the cost of providing field trips to low-income and underserved children in the community and state.
McWane Science Center developed the Educational Scholarship Fund to help provide better access to hands-on science education programs for these children.
Through the program, McWane Science Center’s goal is to serve as an extension of the classroom and provide the supplies, programming, laboratories and resources that are currently unavailable to children in disadvantaged schools and households
The idea for the Beaker Seekers originated when Ann Harper and Reese learned about a group of underprivileged school children who were unable to visit McWane Science Center—a place they love—due to a lack of funds.
“When the girls found this out, they immediately wanted to do something to help,” their mother, Charlotte Ann, said.
In an effort to raise money to help send kids to McWane Science Center, the sisters began having lemonade stands in their front yard.
“They even sold home-grown vegetables before,” Charlotte Ann stated.
Inspired by her daughters, Charlotte Ann decided to take their desire to help children discover the world of science to the next level.
“I started to think, we could lemonade stand ourselves to death, or we could take it on as a family project and do it the right way,” Charlotte Ann said.
After choosing a name (Beaker Seekers)—which Ann Harper said stemmed from her and Reese’s love of Harry Potter—and receiving some help from friends in the community, the family headed to McWane Science Center to present their idea.
“Before we launched the Beaker Seekers, we presented our idea to McWane Science Center’s board of trustees,” Charlotte Ann said. “The girls actually got up and spoke in front of the board.”
(The board of trustees consisted of 30-35 people!)
McWane Science Center loved the idea and decided to make it a part of their Educational Scholarship Fund, which helps provide better access to hands-on science education programs for low-income schools and households.
The Goal of Beaker Seekers
The Beaker Seekers began in September 2017 with an initial goal of raising $5,000 by May of 2018 in hopes of sending 500 kids to McWane Science Center for a day of experiments, education and interaction.
Did they meet their goal? Yes, they did!
“We reached our goal by May of 2018 as planned,” Charlotte Ann said. “But we still need more to reach our true goal of sending an entire school to McWane Science Center.”
It costs $10 to send one child to McWane Science Center for a day of learning and discovery. Currently, the Beaker Seekers have raised $5,500. But more funds still need to be raised.
“We can have really good ideas, but we have to find people in the community to connect and come be a part of it. We can’t do it all on our own,” Charlotte Ann said.
While at McWane Science Center, students will:
- Learn in a classroom setting with hands-on lab experiments
- Learn through play during free discovery of McWane Science Center’s different manipulatives
- Visit the IMAX Theatre