(Mount Vernon, OH) Locals know SPI (the Science Playspace Initiative, more typically referred to as
“SPI Spot”) as a place where families can play and explore science together in a hands-on way. The
not-for-profit organization, located in Wright Center, is filled with the sounds of young children oohing
and aahing as they light up electrical circuits and their own brain circuits alike.
Staff members, however, say SPI also exists to support the lifelong pursuit of knowledge. It is one of
only 24 sites that the National Science Foundation (NSF) selected to host a free forum at which adult
attendees are invited to learn about and discuss the benefits and impact of science on society. The
event, titled “Editing our Evolution,” will center on pre-selected medical scenarios an individual or
family may face and the relationship of these to the broader topic of genomics.
“When adults engage in dialogue about scientific progress they are of course mentally stimulated,
which supports their personal health and well-being,” said Stephanie Calondis-Geiger, the executive
director of SPI. “But we are also motivated to put opportunities like this together because of the
message it sends to young people in Knox County: hey kids, it is important to stay curious and explore
your ideas in a civil and informed way no matter your age!”
Calondis-Geiger said participants will be invited to consider some “big and complicated questions” but
assures that no science background or prior knowledge of the topic is required.
“We want all viewpoints represented and hope to have participation from young professionals, retirees,
parents, as well as medical practitioners and scientists. This is a way for community members to really
have a voice in public policy.” She said the group Millennial Mount Vernon has partnered with SPI on
the effort to invite multi-generational points of view.
Opinion ballots submitted by local participants will be compiled with those from other forums across the
The event will take place July 17 from 6:30 to 8:30pm in the Cafetorium of the Knox County Career
Center. There is no cost to participate and food is provided, but those who are interested should RSVP
online at www.spi-mountvernon.org/forums or by phone to the event organizer, Rachel Garcia, at 740-