Get hands-on at Hill Country Science Mill fundraiser

An artist rendering of the Hill Country Science Mill in Johnson City. Courtesy illustration


JOHNSON CITY — A fundraising event Nov. 15 offers a sneak peek at exhibits and activities coming to the Hill Country Science Mill.

And what a peek it is.

“(Participants are) actually going to be able to do some of the things kids will do once (the science mill) is open,” said Holly Barton of the Hill Country Science Mill. “Most of the exhibits are already in place, so they’ll be able see those. But we’ll also have some ‘maker’ stations, which are basically (do-it-yourself) activities. There will be a DIY microscope. It’s a chance for people to see what the program is all about and support it.”

The event is 6-9 p.m. at the Hill Country Science Mill, 101 S. Ladybird Lane in Johnson City. Tickets are available at by searching for “Hill Country Science Mill sneak preview.”

Organizers began creating the Hill Country Science Mill in 2013 with contraction on the project starting in early 2014. The facility is giving new life, and a new mission, to a historic feed mill and cotton gin building from the 1880s. The iconic structure has served many purposes over the past 100-plus years, but now it’s becoming a way to get Hill Country and Highland Lakes youth excited about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

“Our mission is to get young people involved in STEM and get them to consider it as something to pursue in their post-secondary education,” Barton said.

Sometimes, getting students interested in science and math is a daunting task, so Hill Country Science Mill organizers are adding a fun twist to the facility. Unlike other museums and their “do not touch” signs, Science Mill staff will encourage kids to not only touch but manipulate and try things at the facility.

“Kids get interested in things when they can try them,” Barton. “So the (Hill Country Science Mill) will feature lots of hands-on activities and DIY projects. When they can see what they can do in (STEM), we think they’ll really look at those programs differently.”

The official opening date hasn’t been set, but officials are aiming for early 2015. While Johnson City might seem a bit out of the way for a program such as this, Barton said it’s actually the perfect spot because it sits at the crossroads of the Hill Country and can draw students from Fredericksburg, Marble Falls, Burnet, Blanco and even farther. In fact, the demographics show the Hill Country Science Mill’s 70-mile service radius contains about one million people.

“It’s an easy and doable field trip for schools as far away as San Antonio and Austin as well as those right here in the Hill Country,” Barton said.

Go to to learn more about the facility.

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