Valley STEAM surrounds solar eclipse

Brewery event cheers on sun and moon, aids science, art education for students

Correspondent photos / Brandon Cantwell Monica Trolio of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, drops yellow paint onto a paper top in her centripetal art piece at the Butler Art Museum’s table at Youngstown Rotary Club’s Rotaryclipse fundraiser at Penguin City Brewery on Sunday.

YOUNGSTOWN — Enthusiasm for today’s total solar eclipse, a desire to support STEAM education and the rich, roasty pine-scented flavors of a special drink were some of the things that brought people to Penguin City Brewery on Sunday.

The Rotary Club of Youngstown hosted Rotaryclipse, an event both celebrating today’s eclipse and doing fundraising for STEAM, which represents science, technology, engineering, arts and math education’s integration with STEM programs.

The fundraiser featured a special IPA (India Pale Ale), Black Moon, which Penguin City started serving Friday. A dollar from each pint poured throughout the weekend went toward funds for STEAM.

Rotary Club member and event organizer George Nelson explained his interest with the upcoming solar eclipse started when the previous partial eclipse came through, noting that people really got into it. Nelson said the idea for the event started coming to mind around that time.

Nelson said it seemed like a good idea to support education as the eclipse neared.

“As the day got closer, it seemed like it’d be a good idea to do some kind of fundraiser to assist, you know, the STEM discipline, science, technology, engineering and mathematics as well,” Nelson said. “And I had spoken more recently with some friends who had pointed out that the arts in the area have kind of taken a hit too, so I wanted to do something to help that out too.”

The club has been vague about what specific organizations they plan to donate the funds raised, something that was done because they wanted to see how much they could raise throughout the event, Nelson explained.

Nelson said they chose Penguin City because its owners, Richie Bernacki and Aspasia Lyras-Bernacki, support the club.

“I mean, they’re a young small business,” Nelson said. “But their commitment to this project, for example, they donated the space, they donated the beer that is being brewed and sold to benefit this project. So it was really a no-brainer.”

The IPA was originally supposed to be tapped Sunday, but club president Deanna Rossi explained the choice to move it to Friday was based on the chance to raise more money.

“At some point they decided to tap it on Friday, meaning they could — once the first pour was done — start giving us a dollar for the entire weekend versus just on one day,” Rossi said. “So that was a really nice thing that Penguin City decided to do so that we had it extended. So there was the tapping ceremony, and then today is the big deal.”

Rossi said it was “wonderful” to see all the people who came out to support Rotary Club, noting all funds raised will go toward STEAM education and programs.

Organizations such as the Trumbull County Historical Society, the Butler Institute of American Art, and the OH WOW! Children’s Center were set up at the event, providing attendees with a chance to interact with unique projects.

Trumbull County Historical Society science fiction museum coordinator Beverly Nelson is George’s daughter. She said the Rotaryclipse was a “perfect opportunity” to breach the divide between the two counties.

“Sometimes there’s this really big divide between Trumbull and Mahoning counties, and we don’t necessarily want that to be the case with this museum, especially because we’re trying to really hit on, I think, Northeast Ohio and even Ohio’s connection to science and science fiction broadly,” Beverly said. “There’s a lot of people who are involved in science fiction projects who are from Northeast Ohio and just Ohio broadly, and while we want this to be national, the local connections do matter. So just getting out and sharing this with people who are also enthusiastic about it.”

Ryan McLennan, TCHS’s director of operations and outreach, provided an update on the museum, saying that while TCHS members haven’t picked out a name for it yet, they expect to have one in the coming months. McLennan added that branding has been one of the challenges they’ve faced so far, from figuring out a name for the museum to coming up with their mission vision.

Matthew Liptak was born in Boardman, but moved to Washington, D.C. He said he came because he wanted to be a part of the weekend, and seeing the community come together has been fun.

“The brewery, it’s been fun. I’m just seeing the community come together and celebrate,” Liptak said. “And the custom beer has been fun too.”

“It’s awesome that so many people are coming to this area to celebrate such a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” Liptak added.

Have an interesting story? Contact the newsroom by email at news@vindy.com Follow us on X, formerly Twitter, @TribToday

Have an interesting story? Contact the newsroom by email at news@tribtoday.com Follow us on X, formerly Twitter, @TribToday


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