Knowing Your Neighbors: Exploratorium in the Works

HIBBING, Minn. – “Anything that you could possibly imagine of why or how, we like to explore. The world is an endless supply of curiosity,” Electrified Imagination Co-Founder, Steven Sanders says.

Why is the sky blue and the grass green? Why do lizards crawl and birds sing? Entrepreneurs in Hibbing are laying the groundwork to find all the answers of life in one space, an Exploratorium.

“For example, your cell phone. You usually take it and have no idea, it just works. But there’s so much more involved with how things work that we like to be able to explore those things,” Sanders says.

About a year ago, business partners Steven Sanders and John Michael Cook decided to take on the challenge of building an Exploratorium due to their desire to educate and spread wonder.

This is set to be done through such things as interactive displays, sound showers, and an artificial intelligence, Andy which will guide you through the campus.

“So, now with off the shelf technology we can capture the stories, carry the stories, and take them to market. The key is, is it content that they want to see? It is worth watching. And does it not violate the social structures in which you live?” Creative Department Imagineer, John Michael Cook says.

Taping into all of the senses, this project is in collaboration with the Crescendo Youth Orchestra, as the creators see the art of music to be an essential piece of the puzzle.

“There’s so much about technology and engineering and math that you can’t do without the arts,” Sanders says.

“Choir, band, orchestra, they go together, they should’ve never been separated. Hibbing had a big, beautiful orchestra till 1981. Funding and recession probably affected all of that and so it went 25 years without having an orchestra in Hibbing and we just feel that it’s really important to put that back and then keep it here,” Crescendo Youth Orchestra Director/Founder, Julie Takkunen says.

The hope is that this will be a permanent home for the Crescendo Youth Orchestra, creating a legacy that will allow it to live on through whatever trials it may face.

“We’re not having to set up chairs and stands every time we have a rehearsal. We’re not having to haul things to have a rehearsal. So, it works out really well having a space for them. It’s kind of a home. I hope that continues and they grow up loving orchestra,” Takkunen says.

Before moving to Minnesota, Cook worked as an imagineer for Disney in California designing such concepts as Kermit the frog self-riding a bike in the Muppets Movie.

After years of living the Cali life, he decided it was time to take on a new challenge right here in the Northland.

“As the internet came on board, I realized you can market yourself anywhere in the world and live anywhere in the world if you want to. So, if you take that and you apply that to Crescendo and say, “Can we take Crescendo to market, into the world and provide something people need that they don’t have or don’t have access to?” Cook says.

Cook goes on to say, “You don’t have to serve everybody in the world, you don’t have to try and fit everything that’s going on. What you have to do is try to fit what’s real and true in the first place. Real science, real stories, real stuff, it doesn’t have to be serious, it can be fun and funny. But you don’t have to bend it to fit what’s commercially viable today. Just make it right and you’ll find your commerce will come to it.”

Currently, the creators are housing and working on prototypes in the Iron Range Makerspace.

Funding efforts for the Exploratorium to be built are underway. A date for its initiation and completion is undetermined.

“It might take the rest of my life to build this but what a great life that would be,” Sanders says.

Reach out to for more information on how to help make this project a reality.

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