Science Pioneers, a venerable Kansas City organization that has sponsored an annual science fair and other activities, will merge with Science City at Union Station, officials announced Tuesday.
The combination of the two nonprofits, which share common goals, is expected to strengthen science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs in the region. Science Pioneers already has offices at Union Station.
“We simply can’t imagine a more perfect union between two brands with common purpose and community-affirmed outcomes,” Union Station president and CEO George Guastello said in an announcement.
Science Pioneers is a nonprofit group that was founded 60 years ago. It created the Greater Kansas City Science & Engineering Fair.
Science Pioneers executive director LeAnn Smith will become director of STEM programming and outreach at Science City.
Thomas M. Sack, president and CEO of MRIGlobal, will join the Union Station board of directors. MRIGlobal is the successor of the Midwest Research Institute. It does contract science research for government and industry and has been a key supporter of Science Pioneers.
“This merger strengthens our STEM resources for students, parents and teachers,” Sack said in the announcement. “It’s a model of efficiency and scale to deliver quality STEM programs and services.”
The Kansas City science fair, one of the largest in the nation, will continue.
Union Station board chairman Bob Regnier noted a growing area demand for science and engineering professionals.
“So it’s important for us to help young people in Kansas City access engaging science content, to ultimately fuel our collective economy,” Regnier said. “And we will make it fun and exciting.”
Science Pioneers was founded in 1956 by Charles Kimball, who led the Midwest Research Institute from 1950 to 1975. Each year about 15,000 people participate in Science Pioneers activities, according to the organization’s website.
Last year Science City received an award for visitor experience from the Association of Science-Technology Centers, which has more than 600 members in nearly 50 countries. It was named one of the top 25 science centers in the country by Parents magazine.