While visiting science centers in nearby Lancaster and Philadelphia with his two young sons, Jim Cinelli, a Lehigh University graduate and president of an environmental engineering firm, started wondering why Reading didn’t have a similar hands-on science center. After all, the city had a rich history rooted in industrial science and technology, and was home to businesses ranging from the world-class textile mills and steelmakers that put Reading on the map years ago to modern firms that produce state-of-the-art medical devices and cutting edge global data analytics.
It didn’t take long before Jim recruited others in the Berks County community with a passion for science and engineering – retired industry professionals, local teachers and college professors, and many who just wanted to share their love of science with young people. In 2018, the Reading Science Center was created as a 501c3 and together with financial support of individuals and foundations, these volunteers made the idea a reality. On weekends and evenings you’d find them retrofitting exhibits purchased from or donated by museums as far away as Minnesota and Pittsburgh, planning hands-on experiments like “lava lamp” and “dancing raisins”, and installing a replica of the Saturn V spaceship. A global pandemic delayed but did not deter the group, and in October 2020 the Reading Science Center opened its doors to visitors at 645 Penn Street, ready to light a spark for science in the Greater Reading community.
The Reading Science Center exists to foster a love of Science through exciting and experiential STEM education for the Greater Reading community, especially our youth.
Through both formal and informal science education, the Reading Science Center promotes careers in science, technology, engineering and math (“STEM”) careers, helping to address the shortage of people entering such careers and in turn helping the local economy.
Reading Science Center programming compliments and augments efforts by school districts, government agencies, and other non-profit organizations in promoting STEM careers to youth and provides a centralized location to advance science education within our community.
Jim Cinelli, founder of the Reading Science Center, is an Environmental Engineer and the president of Liberty Environmental, Inc., an environmental consulting firm which he co-founded in 2004. The company has 30 employees and is headquartered in Reading, Pennsylvania, with branch offices in Lancaster, Philadelphia, and New York City. The company’s clients include local, regional and international companies, and include banks, real estate developers, oil & gas companies, and manufacturing firms.
With over 30 years of experience in environmental consulting, Jim has lectured at numerous state and national conventions. In 2018, he founded the nonprofit Reading Science Center, a hands-on science museum that opened in downtown Reading in October 2020. As a past president of the Reading Chapter of the Pennsylvania Society of Professional Engineers, for several years Jim helped spearhead the Berks County MATHCOUNTS Competition for middle school students.
Jim served as Chairman of the Board of the Reading Downtown Improvement District Authority, an organization whose mission was to make downtown Reading a safe, clean and vibrant urban core. He is a licensed Professional Engineer in five states and a Licensed Professional Geologist in New York, and a Board Certified Environmental Engineer. Jim holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Lehigh University, a Master of Engineering degree in Environmental Engineering from Penn State University, and a Master of Business Administration degree from St. Joseph’s University.