Just for science and fun
If you see a friendly alien on the corner waving to passersby on a Monday morning, it may be an invitation to stop by and see the new venue in town where anything science-related is waiting for science enthusiasts.
The new store, Just Science Discovery Store, opened two months ago in the building on Second and Main streets, and Michael and Connie Rayl are excited to be serving the community. They try to carry a variety of science projects in a variety of topics, including chemistry kits, drones, books, posters and crafts, toys, and electronics.
They cover topics such as engineering and robotics, anatomy, metal detecting, botany, vulcanology, solar system, and archeology. They also have something for everyone, including party lights, toys for children with sensory issues (such as ADD and autism), stickers, and even skateboards. They also carry scent pots and candles, globes, maps, and some toys for younger children.
The couple has had one other business, as Michael had an entertainment business for 17 years. When he met Connie, they joined forces and continued with the business in Prineville for a short time. They discontinued the entertainment business and moved to Roswell, New Mexico, for a few years. They had an avid interest in anything to do with science. They brought back some geological and star viewing ideas from Roswell that they use in their new science store in Prineville.
"We lived in Roswell for a few years, and all the geological areas there—there is so much to see," Michael said of their intense interest in the area. "And then we kind of missed home."
Michael was born in North Bend and his family moved to Sunriver when he was 10. Connie moved to Bend when she was 6 years old, and her family moved several times when she was growing up. She is retired from the National Guard and a fierce advocate for the military.
The couple has lived in a few other places since they were married, but they have always come back to Prineville. When they decided to move to Prineville from Roswell, they wanted to do something that they both really loved. Michael is a fabricator by trade, but he and Connie have always loved science. They noticed that Prineville did not have a business that carried the kind of inventory that they have in their store, Just Science.
Recently, a group of youth indicated that they would like to see an inventory of skateboards and accessories. Connie did the research and began carrying a line of skateboards., and so far, she is selling several every week. They try to have a price point for everyone, so they make the effort to also provide a variety of priced products in the skateboards as well.
In addition, the store is a venue for military recruiters to meet with potential recruits, if they make reservations ahead of time.
"Our goal is we are not here for the money," indicated Michael. "We are doing what we love. If we know something or we can learn something to teach not just children but adults."
They also offer activities, such as creating volcanoes and identifying rocks in the local area.
"We have fun while we do it," added Connie.
"We live in an area that has all the geological volcanoes that are active here. But there is so much to do, and get the community involved," said Michael.
He added that they have a partnership with Bill Quant and the Quant Rock Shop, and they have rock tumblers to smooth the edges of the rocks that youth get from the store (many come from Quant). He will also be coming to talk to groups to help identify rocks that they find, as they will soon be offering a rock and gem dig.
Connie noted that they like to get the community and people with like interests involved. She has also begun a Bigfoot research team, which recently began meeting at the store. She added that there are some interested members who are setting up trail cameras in the Ochocos.
"That gets community involvement, gets people knowing each other and getting them to do something constructive. It's our way of being a part of the community, too," Connie emphasized.
Michael and Connie want to help spark interest in science for youth in the community – regardless of age. They also have toys for younger scientists.
"All these little things lead into the big picture," commented Connie.
She emphasized that having a big variety of science-related resources available can help spark interest in kids and lead to the start of something they use later in life.
Just Science Discovery Store
Owners: Michael and Connie Rayl
Adress: 114 West Second Street
Contact phone: 541-604-9184
Hours: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., except for Tuesdays
May 6: Rock and Gem Dig, call for details
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