History & General Overview
A Community Beginning
In its early beginnings in the late 1980s, Sci-Port provided the public with educational exhibits and programs in local bank lobbies and area malls. These major learning experiences included the Gateway to China and Dinomation Dinosaurs exhibitions, summer day camps along Shreveport-Bossier's downtown riverfront and programs at Louisiana State University in Shreveport. These beginning efforts introduced the community to the fun, enlightening programs that a permanent science center could provide.
In 1994, a 5,000 square-foot interim site for the science center opened in downtown Shreveport, making year-round learning opportunities a reality. The Junior League of Shreveport, the National Science Foundation, the City of Shreveport, the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau, community residents and other organizations provided initial funding to launch the site. Over 300,000 people experienced science first-hand through the site's three and a half years of outreach programs and exhibits on sports, insects, weather, electricity and more.
The success of the interim site lent momentum to the development of a permanent, 67,000 square-foot science center on the downtown riverfront. The current facility opened to the public November 21, 1998, and it featured over 200 interactive science exhibits and programs in six Discovery Galleries, an IMAX Dome Theatre, a demonstration theater, nationally touring exhibitions, a cafe and gift shop. The $21 million dollar construction project was made possible through public and private support, including $16 million from the State of Louisiana and the City of Shreveport and $5 million in contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations.
In 2003, the center created one-of-a-kind portable science and math outreach programs that would travel to other destinations. The Science Carnival Outreach, comprised of forty hands-on exhibits in two separate math and science content offerings - Gee Whiz! and Space Journeys - could serve up to 250 students per visit. In a school year, the traveling exhibits deliver Sci-Port's informal education mission to over 20,000 students, many of which were Title 1 schools or underserved rural areas.
The universe reached Sci-Port with a 25,000 square foot Space Center expansion, which opened November 18, 2006. The $11.6 million Space Center included 60 astronomy and space science exhibits, 30 applied mathematics exhibits and the world's first open-access, interactive, laser Space Dome Planetarium. Support for the project came from many sources including $1 million from Dayna & Ronald L. Sawyer, government support through the City of Shreveport, State of Louisiana and NASA, as well as gifts of support from philanthropic foundations, businesses, individuals, the Sci-Port staff and the Shreveport/Bossier community at large.
Power of Play
Sci-Port began construction in May 2016 on Power of Play (POP), a children's museum within the center. POP, geared for ages 8 and under, opened November 2016. The 10,000-square-foot, hands-on museum allows guests to experience a kid’s-sized version of Shreveport-Bossier City. Guests can visit community spots, such as University Health hospital, Brookshire’s grocery store and a recreation of Shreveport’s own duck pond. The project was funded by local businesses, which are represented through POP’s exhibits, and community members.