Academy Science Center Is Open for Business

by | Sep 19, 2023

Above: The Academy Science Center is housed in the Olney House at 60 Church Street. 

Including a rocket building workshop Saturda

When I moved to East Greenwich 23 years ago, I remember thinking the building perched on the edge of Academy Field looked like a classic haunted house. It was dark and empty when I looked through the windows, with peeling yellow paint on the exterior. Still, I knew it had a history even if its future appeared uncertain. 

Over the years, I would see the house when my daughters played soccer on Academy Field or I took them to Clown Town at Swift Community Center or to the playground. I’d see it when I parked my car in the town lot to go to the library. The house remained a sentinel looking over Academy Field. 

It turns out the building, known as the Olney House (at 60 Church St.), is one of the remaining vestiges of the old East Greenwich Academy school that once stood on the land now home to town and school offices. Swift Gym (now Community Center) was also part of the school. The building, set to be razed, was bought from the town for $1 by Don and Sue Carcieri in 1999, with a vision to create a science center. Sue had been a science teacher. The building needed a lot of work, to bring it back up to functionality and up to code. 

But when Don became governor of Rhode Island in 2003, his governorship put the project on hold. 

The Academy Science Center in action last winter: volunteer Carol Gibbons, retired professor and former chair of the Mathematical Sciences department at Salve Regina University works with some young visitors.

Now, more than two decades later, the building has come to life, thanks to years of effort and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Susan Carcieri died in 2018 but her dream has been picked up by their daughter, Alison Carcieri-Cassidy, executive director of the East Greenwich Academy Science Center, which officially opened last November. 

Carcieri-Cassidy gave me a tour of the house and told me about the history of how her grandfather was a teacher at the renowned East Greenwich Academy and how the building was built in 1897 and used as a boys dormitory. 

The first floor of the house is complete and that’s where the science center activities are held. The display room currently contains an extensive rock and mineral collection from a student at the high school. The conference room is spacious and the lab room is complete with working sinks. The first floor definitely did not look haunted. 

The second floor was currently being used for storage and was full of boxes but the hope is to finish it some day. The entire third floor has been gutted showing the original wood used back in 1897 – perhaps one day it will be an astronomy room with a telescope situated near one of the windows. 

If you are interested in any of the programs currently running at the Academy Science Center or in the specific days and hours that they are open, you can find that on their homepage here

The best way to donate money or items to the Academy Science Center is to send an email to [email protected].  

You can also rent out the Academy Science Center for birthday parties. 

The Academy Science Center is also looking for new volunteers, especially a science oriented person who can help with tutoring students after school. The center is always on the lookout for people who can give any type of math or scientific presentations. Email [email protected] any questions or inquiries. 

Find out more about the rocket building workshop below. Here are the topics for the months that follow:

UPCOMING SCIENCE SATURDAYS!

Saturday, September 23rd 10am-12pm.
October – Edible Science with Cotton Candy
November – Leaf Chromatography
December – Snow and Slime Lab Activity
January – Identifying Animal Tracks
February – Safety Training on CPR
March – Kites and Wind
April – Make it Rain
May – Importance of Pollinators
June – How to Start a Compost
July – Shark Week

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Jody Sceery
September 20, 2023 9:42 am

I’m so glad to see the building being used! Thank you to the Governor and Mrs Carcieri and their daughter for the continued care and utility of this historic building!

Kristin Dellagrotta
Kristin Dellagrotta
September 20, 2023 10:03 am

It’s wonderful to see this legacy to the East Greenwich Academy continue to serve the community and to see Suzanne Carcieri’s vision come to life!

Carol Gibbons
Carol Gibbons
September 20, 2023 10:59 am

Some fun math-related activities are also on the Center’s agenda! No equation solving involved!

Alison caRcieri-CASSIDY
September 22, 2023 4:18 pm

Thank you East Greenwich News for your wonderful article!

We are excited to welcome the community into the science education center to participate in fun & interesting activities and to breathe new life into an historic East Greenwich Academy building!

Joanne Breslin
Joanne Breslin
September 23, 2023 7:22 pm

Such good news! The programs are sure to spark an interest and inspire students for generations to come. Kudos to Alison and all the volunteers who helped make bring this wonderful project to life.

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