Twelve years ago, my husband Rick, encouraged me to find some type of on-going science program for our very scientific homeschooled second grade son. Having taught for ten years and knowing what great program OMSI had for traditional schoolers, I turned to OMSI to see what they had for homeschoolers. Nothing. OMSI had not had much contact from the homeschool community at that time.
We were long term members of OMSI and and greatly used their Discovery Center, but beyond the halls, we had never ventured deep into the labs. From behind the chemistry counter, Science Educator Jake gave me the beginning elements for creating the first series of classes. If we could find 12 homeschoolers, we could have a private lab, just like the traditional school students . . . “Did we know 12 science interested homeschoolers in Portland?”
By the end of the first month we had 24 homeschool students, ranging from kindergarten to seventh grade, all taking one lab together; olders helping the youngers. At the end of the year, I had 125 interested families, and grew from the one class to five classes, weekly.
Currently we hold at 210 students, and limit the classes to 18 students, offering fourteen science classes based on age groups.
Fall classes begin the middle of September, wrapping up the first weeks of December. Spring classes begin the end of January, break for two weeks at Spring Vacation, and finish off at the end of April.
We LOVE coming to OMSI on Tuesdays during the school year when the building is in low use: and for OMSI we fill the labs during a time of the year when traditional students are busy in their classrooms, and finish our year as the other schools begin their season of field trips. A win-win for both parties.