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Kids Think They're Just Having Fun, Parents Know They're Learning at Discovery Space

by on August 21, 2014 6:30 AM

Before they even begin learning in a classroom, many local children are already interested in the subject of science.

Of course, they don't see it this way yet. They see what they're doing as simply having fun.

Hundreds of children, from babies to the age of 12, are regulars at Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania. This science museum is filled with interactive exhibits and hands-on programs designed to provide valuable informal education, especially in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math.

The museum helps stimulate curiosity and spark imagination as children learn about the world around them. The goal is for families to play and learn together as they explore the various exhibits.

Paul Kim says he sees his young daughter, Josie, learning every time they visit. He brings her at least once a week, sometimes even more.

Josie is now two years old and has been coming for about a year. Kim says he's amazed getting to watch her develop and learn.

"The first time she sees an exhibit, she says 'Daddy, Daddy, help, help.' But then after a month or so, she can do it herself. It's really great," he says.

Allayn Beck, interim executive director, says there are 250 members of the science museum. The center, located at 112 W. Foster Ave., is full of dozens of exhibits, such as an archaeological dig for fossils, a cave full of fluorescent rocks, a friction racer, a kinetics ramp, pulleys and much more.

Beck says the exhibits constantly change. The museum has a partnership with local businesses and Central Pennsylvania Libraries to trade exhibits. Mechanical engineering students at Penn State have also submitted their projects as museum exhibits.  

According to Beck, there is not a "most popular" exhibit because each child has his or her own favorite.

The museum's especially busy during the summer for its various science camps for ages 3-12, with topics such as "Space odyssey," "Eco Adventure" and "Safari Science." Like any museum, the center also hosts birthday parties and field trips throughout the year.

Discovery Space opened in 2011 as the result of a community effort to build a science center. The closest one to State College is the Whittaker Center in Harrisburg.

"We are filling a niche in the community that is needed," Beck says. "The response we've gotten has been extremely positive."

Beck says Discovery Space's popularity continues to grow. She's sure a new building that's "bigger and better" is in store down the road. That goal depends on grants and fundraising, as only about 25 percent of the museum's budget is collected at the door.

One recent donation from Columbia Gas will help fund programming activities. The $20,000 grant will be used to build a clean energy exhibit, Beck says.

"Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania is dedicated to actively supporting educational institutions in our communities,” says Mark Kempic, president, Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania. “We are honored to team with Discovery Space to continue their work in helping kids discover the wonders of science.”

A specific goal in this partnership will be the design, fabrication and up-keep of a high quality interactive energy-related science exhibit in the coming year to add to Discovery Space’s exhibits, which include an interactive green screen system, a heartbeat drum, and an interactive gravity simulation.

Admission to Discovery Space is $6 per person. A family membership is $75 for one year while single-parent and grandparent membership is $65 for one year.

To learn more about Discovery Space, visit the website by clicking HERE.

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Photo Gallery - Discovery Space



Jessica Tully recently graduated from Penn State with degrees in journalism and political science. She is a frequent contributor to StateCollege.com and has also reported for USA TODAY, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Onward State and The Daily Collegian.
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