Ashland, Ore., Couple Brings Science to Children

Oct 10, 2014


John Javna was a successful writer and his wife, Sharon, was a public defender in Oakland, Calif., when they moved with their two children in 1995 to Ashland, Ore.  John’s self-published book, titled “50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth,” had sold 5 million copies.

They loved the Rogue Valley, but missed taking their children to interactive museums like those in the Bay Area. They started a small science museum in the Ashland Middle School, building exhibits, an experimental lab, and displaying a giant python.

Sharon was the one who spotted Ashland’s former Pacific Northwest Museum of Natural History and figured the 26,000-square-foot, vacant building was perfect for a much larger “science works.” They visited large science museums around the country and joined with Dave and Marge Bernard to create one in Ashland.  With financing from the Kirlin Foundation, ScienceWorks opened in December 2002.

Highly popular exhibits include a “Bubble-ology Room,” where people blow bubbles and learn about bubble-surface tension; a cyber-dinosaur; and “Pedal Power,” a stationary bicycle that powers an electric train.  More than 50,000 people tour ScienceWorks each year, including 10,000 school children.

Sources: Fattig, Paul. "Happy birthday, Science Works." Ashland (Ore.) Daily Tidings 1 Dec. 2012. Web. 21 Sept. 20 2014; Specht, Sanne. "The Power of Community." Mail Tribune 14 Apr. 2013 [Medford, Ore.] . Web. 21 Sept. 2014.