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Time Flies!

Time Flies! 

North Dakota’s Gateway to Science is celebrating 30 years! Our 30th Birthday Bash is July 20-21. Watch our website and social for updates leading up to this momentous occasion. 

North Dakota’s Gateway to Science Turns 30  

There’s a saying that “time flies when you’re having fun.” In my experience, whether you’re enjoying success or facing challenges, time just simply flies. This is certainly the case as I consider that North Dakota’s Gateway to Science is turning 30!  

Where It Started 

Gateway to Science opened in November 1994 in an empty storefront at the Gateway Mall in Bismarck. Side note: Gateway is in our name because of the vision to create a place where anyone could be comfortable with science – a Gateway to Science, not because of the mall. This was the vision of our founding scientist, Frank Koch. 

In the first year, the science center was operated completely by volunteers, including science professionals recruited by Frank and members of the Bis-Man Junior Service League.  We all worked together to inspire the discovery of science through hands-on experiences. 

30 Years of Outreach 

As our name implies, North Dakota’s Gateway to Science serves the entire state. For 30 years our staff have provided educational programs to connect rural communities with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Early efforts were largely accomplished by staff and volunteers using their personal vehicles. I used to joke that my husband, Keith, was my “roadie” when he assisted me in transporting STEM activities to remote areas in the state. In 2018, the Gateway to Science on the Go vehicle was purchased, and a second vehicle was added in January 2024. Last month alone, we reached 3,179 students through this program. 


Frank Koch’s Vision of Partnering 

Frank Koch set an example of involving organizations and individuals as partners in the mission. This guiding principle led to the establishment of the Frances Leach High Prairie Arts & Science Complex with the Bismarck Park District in 2005. Our move to that facility raised awareness of the science center and increased attendance in both the gallery and programs, but our physical space was still limited. We continued to explore options to increase our space, from expanding the High Prairie facility to building or renovating another site. 

A New Facility 

In 2013, the ND Legislature appropriated funds to allow Gateway to Science to begin developing a standalone, state-of-the-art science center. We opened our new facility in March 2023

Since then, over 130,000 people have visited onsite, in addition to the thousands that we served statewide.

Frank’s Legacy  

The Frank Koch Lab is dedicated to his dream of a place where children could discover and explore the world of science. In 2016, a video was produced in his memory. It’s still a wonderful way to remember Frank and his vision.  

For 30 years, I have been honored to lead this organization. Our team grew from a volunteer corps to a robust team of educators, visitor service professionals, adept exhibit keepers, summer camp facilitators, event specialists, visitor guides, volunteers, and other STEM enthusiasts dedicated to inspiring the discovery of science through hands-on experiences.  

To honor this huge milestone, we’re hosting a 30th Birthday Bash over the weekend of July 20th and 21st. Join us for demos, hands-on activities, live music, food trucks, face painting, and more indoor and outdoor fun! 


We’re looking forward to seeing you,  

Beth Demke
Chief Executive Officer