The Liberty Science Center held a virtual gala last night, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which highlighted the value of science in shaping the modern era and featured a cameo from Gov. Phil Murphy (D).
By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
“Our state and our nation need more scientists and the children visiting LSC are the scientists of the future,” said Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield President Gary St. Hilaire, President, who opened the gala.
“The COVID crisis only underscores the importance of science and technology.”
To cope with COVID, LSC educators delivered a suite of virtual stem programs to school districts. It was noted 5,668 kids have participated in LSC classes. The Liberty Science Center also held a professional development program for teachers.
Many educational programs are offered at LSC, some featuring endangered animals and the nuances of surgery, along with more conventional fare such as showing a tornado in a bottle.
“We offer dozens of live virtual programs for students in Jersey City, or for that matter, anywhere in the world,” said Ivory Williams, the vice president of STEM Education at their maker lab.
Williams noted that due to the current public health emergency, minority children disproportionately fell behind in reading and math.
Among the scientists honored at the gala was Jeanette Kowalik, the Commissioner of Public Health in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Kowalik made headlines for recognizing that the negative effects of COVID-19 were falling disproportionately on minorities, especially for older African American populations.
As advertised, Murphy spoke briefly at the gala.
“There is no denying our world has bee changed by the COVID-19 pandemic. We have acquired a new appreciation for those in science,” the governor said.
He continued that he believes people will begin to admire scientists like fictional superheroes.
“Thanks to their work I look forward to celebrating with all of you next year,” Murphy said.
LSC President and CEO Paul Hoffman moderated the virtual gala and announced progress on “Sci-Tech City,” an ambitious project of the LSC that would completely transform not only the area around it but Jersey City itself.
They have already raised $6 million towards their effort to create a massive STEM tech hub adjacent to the museum.
The Liberty Science Center has 30 acres with the goal of launching science and tech companies, akin to a Silicon Valley. They have already raised $26 million for the project, officials said last night.
$10 million dollars was donated by former Congressman Frank Guarini, who represented Jersey City in Congress, before being succeeded by Bob Menendez in the House.
Ernest & Young, Bank of America, and Verizon are also sponsored a great deal of the Sci-Tech City effort. Hoffman said they want to start building next year and be completed by 2023.
Hoffman said Mayor Steven Fulop donated land to the Liberty Science Center that was formerly industrial.
Along with a large skyscraper “Edge Works” for tech start-ups and lab, the land will contain the high school and a “Scholars Village” of residential housing.
In a separate segment, Fulop himself introduced three Jersey City students honored for their great contributions to science. They were Jagdeep Bhatia, now a freshman at MIT, Taylor Brown, and Ramzi Saber.
The Liberty Science Center closed March 13th and opened Labor Day weekend after being closed for six months.