Playing with Fire
Science is a journey, and this drake alumna lights the way.
Jenny Koska, AS’11, found success in the Des Moines area at the Science Center of Iowa, where the Drake alumna combines her interests of science and education. And has a little fun, too.
Tell us about your role at the Science Center of Iowa.
As program coordinator, I help plan and facilitate a variety of different activities that are both youth- and adult-friendly. We create live science. Science of Sound, for instance, is a new experience where we live-scoped an opera singer’s throat.
What would you say is a goal or priority for the Science Center?
I think a major goal is to get the community more involved and make what we offer here more relatable to people’s everyday lives.
With your background in environmental science and policy, how have you brought your own ideas to the programs?
I originally wanted to go into environmental education right after college, but I kind of fell into the museum world, and I’m glad I did. I get to explore all different fields instead of focusing on just one. A professor of mine at Drake, Dave Courard-Hauri, was able to combine so many different elements of environmental science with social aspects as well, which I feel is unique. I try to use his approach at the Science Center. And because it’s a smaller museum, I feel like I can contribute more. I’m now on a team that’s developing a permanent exhibit—the first we’ve developed in-house. Eureka! Lab will give participants the opportunity to interact with the basic principles of physics, including pressure waves, the Bernoulli Effect, and kinetic energy. It’s exciting to be part of it.
What do you consider when developing programs?
We do fun science. A lot of guided learning, which involves more intimate interactions with the audience. Schools tend to focus on science that’s more structured. Here we have an end goal for our presentation, but we don’t know exactly how we’re going to get there. That’s what I love most about it. It’s unpredictable.
What have been some of the more popular programs for the Science Center?
Anything where we blow something up. Mixology—a 21+ program that mixes drinks, science, and entertainment—is also popular. When we first started it, we were hoping for 50 people to attend, and now we are seeing 400. It’s been really fun to watch the program grow.
What’s your favorite Drake memory?
I would like to say it was Relays, but the weather was always horrible, so I’ll instead highlight all of the leadership experience that I gained. I don’t feel like there are many universities where you can walk away with so much real-world experience. I walked out of Drake and knew how to manage a budget and a department, and how to work with very different people for a common goal.