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Donation to Science Mill in Johnson City Could Make Big Dreams for Small-Town Kids Come True

The Science Mill is located at 101 S. Lady Bird Lane in Johnson City. Go to for more information and upcoming events. Staff photo by Jennifer Greenwell

JOHNSON CITY — Dream big.

Those two words hold such great promise. But how can students, especially ones in rural communities, connect the dots between dreaming big and a successful career?

Fortunately, the Science Mill, which opened in Johnson City in 2015, is inspiring more and more students living in small Texas Hill Country towns to see themselves as part of a 21st century workforce in science, technology, engineering, and math careers.

And generous donors are stepping up to make sure under-privileged students in the Hill Country have access to the out-of-school STEM enrichment offered by the Science Mill through field trips, STEM immersion camps, and visits to the museum.

In the spirit of paying it forward, one such donor, Charlie Shaw, along with his wife, Mary, recently made it possible for 10 area families to each receive a free one-year membership at the Science Mill.

Charlie Shaw knows from personal experience what a difference a science center can make to an impoverished child. Growing up in Gulfport, Florida, in the 1960s with limited resources, he attended classes after school and summers at the local science center.

Charlie Shaw (background) discovered the joys of science at an early age. Now, as an adult, who wants to make sure today’s children have that same opportunity. He and his wife, Mary, made a donation to the Science Mill in Johnson City that will be used to ensure 10 area families each receive a free one-year membership to the facility. Courtesy image

“I’ve been interested in batteries and light bulbs as long as I can remember. My father used to say I learned to read by studying mail-order electronics catalogs,” Shaw said. “I studied electronics at our science center for three years while I was in elementary school and then continued taking classes there through high school.”

Shaw said the Science Mill reminds him of the science center that helped set him on the path to becoming a scientist.

“The Science Mill is a teaching science center. An emphasis on special programs with expert presenters sets it apart,” he said. “Staff members who assist visitors are well-trained and knowledgeable, too.”

Today, Shaw is a successful master fabricator and his company, CW Shaw Inc., has fabricated and provided design expertise for many large-scale, award-winning, internationally recognized projects. His company built the Race Track exhibit, the Giant Lever exhibit, the Create an Explosion exhibit, and the Sailboat exhibit for the Science Mill.

To help more students dream big in STEM through a donation, contact Holly Barton, director of Operations at the Science Mill, at (844) 263-6405 ext. 1002 or

The Science Mill is located at 101 S. Ladybird Lane. Go to for more information and upcoming events.

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