Giving Matters: The New Environmental and Sustainability Science Center at Roper Mountain Science Center


As the world waited for science to deliver a vaccine that would make collection safe again, specialists and educators at Roper Mountain Science Center were busy creating virtual lessons to inspire the next generation of scientists. At the same time, workers were completing RMSC’s new environmental science and sustainability center.

Starting June 1, the facility will serve as a visitor center for the campus, which opened in 1985 and includes five educational buildings, gardens, nature trails and a living history farm. An installation of Greenville County Schools, RMSC currently offers standards-based lab experiments to 50,000 students each year and serves 45 school districts across South Carolina. The new building will better meet the needs of students in the district, while expanding the reach of RMSC, said Michael Weeks, principal.

“This is a powerful new resource for equipping future generations and the public with the knowledge and skills to meet the challenges of the future,” Weeks said.

Sustainability has been taken into account in every detail, from the recycled glass reception counter, to the orientation of the building to take advantage of natural light, to the sustainable landscaping of the land. The stairs from the upper level to the lower level were constructed from the large chestnut oak wood which had to be cut to clear the ground for the building.

The new Center for Environmental Science and Sustainability will be seen as a welcome center for the RMSC campus.

An interactive Michelin-sponsored exhibit directs visitors to Greenville, the upstate and Roper Mountain. An Indoor Waterfall invites visitors to learn about the local water supply system and Table Rock Reservoir via ReWa’s Greenville Water and Our Water Story exhibit. In the Sustainable Future Gallery, sponsored by Fluor, students learn how the choices they make affect the environment.

Young explorers can bring treasures found in the wild to the Nature Exchange, where a scientist will help them identify unusual objects, look at them under a microscope, and access reference materials, assigning each a point value. Students can accumulate points and then redeem them for natural prizes at RMSC or other participating science centers.

“It motivates kids to get involved in nature and encourages repeat visits,” Weeks explains.

In the traveling exhibition space, seven ceiling-mounted projectors project images onto two adjacent walls, creating an immersive experience.

“This is something that we saw at Disney with the imagineers called stitched projection,” Weeks explains. “We can take the kids literally anywhere, from the jungles of South Africa to a Marscape. “

This summer’s exhibition, Be the Dinosaur (, combines interactive play with traditional displays to promote active learning. Students experience the ecosystem from the perspective of dinosaurs and learn about dinosaurs from fossil evidence.

In addition to the exhibition areas, the building houses classrooms / laboratories, a cafeteria and an event space. The Greenville County School District contributed $ 12.2 million towards its design and construction, and early donations funded major exhibitions. The Do Big Things on a Small Mountain campaign launched on March 22, with a goal of $ 1.65 million. Additional funding is required to complete and maintain exhibits and provide expanded public programming.

The Our History of Water exhibit includes interaction with the water supply system.

Tommie Reece, chairman of the board of directors of the RMSC association, said other generous donors include the Appalachian Regional Council, the Symmes Foundation, the Daniel-Mickel Foundation and the Piedmont Arthritis Clinic.

“The RMSC Association is thrilled to help bring this building to life, for our students and the community,” said Reece. “With custom-designed exhibits and high-tech, high-touch programs, it embodies the best way to learn science, enables us to reach 15% more students and dramatically increases opportunities for the community. What better way to invest in our future than in environmental science and sustainability for students, our community and our workforce? ”

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