Over the next month or so, staff at the Nature Discovery Center will be making mission driven changes to our Discovery Rooms that will take the rooms back to the Center’s roots as a place of exploration and discovery. Visitors will notice a shift in focus from indoor nature play to hands-on learning at activity and observation stations designed to ignite curiosity, understanding, and respect for nature. While we still want to encourage nature based imaginative exploration upstairs, we want to move away from indoor play for play’s sake and hopefully discourage the misuse of specimens and Discovery Room tools that have too often been incorporated into the play-based experience our visitors have had in recent years.
We are excited by these changes, and we can’t wait to see our visitors make new discoveries as they interact with natural objects, explore with kid friendly tools of the trade, “research” areas of interest in resource books, create simple nature crafts, and engage with volunteers and naturalists at themed demo and activity tables. We know there will be a period of adjustment as our visitors acclimate to our new Discovery Room philosophy, but we also know that the changes will be rewarding and worth it! Connecting kids with nature and igniting their curiosity through hands-on discovery is our passion!
What can you expect:
- removal of the Backyard Habitat house and most of the toys that have been upstairs
- a focused area for imaginative interactions with a smaller selection of puppets and stuffed animals
- a general local wildlife theme in the large discovery room with activity and observation stations
- a more focused bones, skulls, and skeletons theme in the small discovery room
- an interactive naturalist table staffed by volunteers on weekends at posted times with themed activities and/or hands-on animal encounters
- more accessible tools of the trade so that kids can explore specimens with hand lenses, rulers, microscopes, and balances, and observe wildlife through the windows with binoculars
- a “Stars of the Park” exhibit space where kids can bring in and display small curiosities and interesting objects they have discovered while exploring the park
- increased respect for our specimens and tools by staff and visitors alike
- an expectation that our visitors will help us keep the rooms clean by helping their children learn to put things back where they belong