A novel attraction for kids from 5 to 12, this “restaurant” in Lewes serves no meals but a menu of science projects to pique young minds. Enter, be seated and order your bill of fare — anything from robotics to microscopes to slime. Call it food for thought. Activities to amuse and challenge scientists of all ages can be found at the Great STEMporium in Lewes.
Delaware’s Small Business Development Center clients, Cari Miller and David Stobie, launched the venture so kids and families can explore science, technology, engineering and math, known as STEM, through hands-on projects and experiments. “We like to sneak in education with fun,” Miller told the Cape Gazette in August, shortly after the Great STEMporium’s opening. “We liked the concept and thought it would work. It’s been great to see the kids’ faces light up.”
Visitors to the STEMporium are escorted into a high-ceilinged space housing tables and booths. Once seated, children select an activity from a menu of appetizers, main courses, sides, desserts or carry-out options; prices range from $2 to $16 per activity. Appetizers are warm-up experiments, such as making 3D fart molecules or slime, to get the creative juices flowing. Main courses, like building a robot or erupting volcano, allow children more time to explore a challenge or build a project. A smorgasbord of slime side projects blends polymers, ions, and molecules for a messy good time. Miller said children can also create projects, such as a binary necklace or wooden fidget ships, to take home.
“I have to say, I never dreamed I’d get to open a business,” Miller said, “let alone one that’s this fun!” According to Miller, “Since opening, we’ve seen thousands of kids light up when they explore science with their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles. In addition, we’ve entered 3 teams into an international robotics competition. We’ve delivered 20+ field trips. We’ve facilitated 60+ Girl Scout STEM badges. We’re hosting over 100 kids for Odyssey of the Mind spontaneous practice challenges. We have a whole series of library programs launching in January. We’ve donated over $1,000 to local charities in support of schools, children, and families. And we’re just getting started.”
The Great STEMPorium’s unique concept has generated publicity both locally and in the Baltimore Sun, which highlighted the business in a summer beach preview in May. Walk-ins are welcome; reservations are suggested for groups of seven or more. Party packages are also available.
When asked about working with the Delaware SBDC, Miller noted, “the SBDC’s help, support, coaching, and tools have been invaluable! Any questions or worries I have — no matter how simple or complex—they have answers, ideas, support, and extremely good resources for us to lean on. Everyone I’ve encountered at the SBDC understands how hard it is to start a business, and their concern for our success is more than genuine — it’s personal.”
The Great STEMporium is closing their storefront and will be pivoting to a NEW mobile science experiment experiences, they’ll continue providing their unique science projects and experiments through their online store! “We are forever committed to bringing STEM education to our community.” Says Miller. They also have plans to continue to support local schools by donating some of their equipment and offering a creative, socially distant “discover and donate” solution for parent-teacher organizations around the area.