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The following article appeared May 11, 2003 in the

    School in Pembroke Pines gets a Science Center,
Classroom upgrades donated by Boca Raton businessman


    Twelve-year-old Casey Andersen was restrained but precise as he described the $10,000 in science goodies and upgrades to the science classroom at Pembroke Pines Charter Middle School's west campus. ''Cool,'' the Pembroke Pines boy said. ``It's like having our own museum.''

    In display cabinets once used to store books, all sorts of specimens and types of scientific equipment, from Geiger counters to a weather station to natural crystals and prehistoric fossils, now line the perimeter of the room.

    The High-Tech Productions Technology and Science Center, one of 12 nationwide, was dedicated April 30. It was donated by High-Tech Productions owner Richard Newman of Boca Raton. The center is a hands-on learning laboratory where students can now see, feel and experience, said science teacher Barry Perlman. ''It's one thing to read about science in books; it's totally another thing for students to see science as real -- to handle it,'' Perlman said.

    Other items in the center include a lightning detector that will sound when lightning strikes within 60 miles of the school; a plasma lightning simulator to teach students about ionized gases; tools and other artifacts from ancient civilizations; extensive collections of minerals and geodes; and mounted collections of once-living creatures such as butterflies and bugs.

    Perlman said a high-powered telescope will be used to study and monitor life as it unfolds in a wetlands ecosystem near the school. The telescope comes equipped with a TV camera that will transfer images to a monitor for the class to view, store and measure data. 

    A variety of educational posters, more than 100 compact discs about science topics from A to Z, and a star from the constellation Aquila, named Pembroke Pines Charter School, were also donated. Aquariums and an ant farm will be added to the collection over the summer, Perlman said.

    Newman, who operates one of the nation's leading videotape and DVD duplication and blank tape distribution companies, is a self-proclaimed space and earth science buff whose credits include winning every science fair he entered in junior high and high school. Other projects of Newman's were honored by NASA and at the New York State Science Fair and the American Institute of the City of New York.

    The Pembroke Pines project is Newman's first attempt at a school, Perlman said. The 11 other centers are located primarily at Boy Scout camps.

    Newman, who sits on several Boy Scout Council executive boards, said he was inspired to provide the Pembroke Pines school with a science center because of the charter school's dedication to the tin crystal science project launched into space on the space shuttle Challenger.

    Michael Noto, 12, said he and his classmates relish their good fortune. ''Average kids like us don't get this kind of stuff in their classroom, we read about it in books,'' Michael said. ``But now we can see it, examine it and always remember it.''

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