10 Things We’ve Learned in 10 Years of Play

10 Things We’ve Learned in 10 Years of Play

The Discovery Center is celebrating its 10th birthday this week! We’re celebrating from June 2 to 6 with free admission for all 10 year olds, a 10 percent discount on all gift shop merchandise, and pop-up programs throughout the week. What have we learned in ten years of serious fun?

Child painting at the Kansas Children's Discovery Center

1. Removing barriers to play is the most important thing we do.

More than one in ten visits to the museum are free or discounted based on need. Every child deserves rich and diverse museum experiences. Access Discovery programs create special opportunities for children who would otherwise be unable to visit, supporting children and strengthening families. We are always asking “who are we not serving?” and we’ll keep at it! Read more about Access Discovery programs. 

2. Kids have the best ideas.

A pretend lemonade stand evolved into a full grocery store and bank where children can run their own economy. When we let children lead the way, their ideas are almost always more creative and innovative than ours. We listen to the experts.

A father and his son playing together in the doctor area of the careers section at the Kansas Children's Discovery Center.

3. You’re never too old to play.

We’ve had visitors from 2 days old to 102 years old. Adult volunteers do some of the best playing. Everyone loves building, racing chairs in Lift Yourself, creating art and exploring outside. Play is the primary way humans learn about the world we live in. Our brains are wired to learn by doing. We’re never too old to learn, so we’re never too old to play.

4. Outside play is magical.

Outside play helps children connect to the natural world and builds healthy bodies and brains. There is something truly special about a child exploring our tallgrass prairie, or discovering a new bug, or picking snap peas from the garden in our 4.5 acre outdoor adventure area. Learn more about what's outside at the Discovery Center. 

5. People from all over the world love visiting the museum.

We have hosted more than 700,000 visitors from all 50 states and 23 countries at the Discovery Center. More than one in four Discovery Center visitors live outside Shawnee County. People from all over love to play. Read about our 700,000th visitor.

6. There is no limit to the distance a child can fling paint.

The distance is truly incredible.  Read more about our Art Pavilion.

7. Sharing is an important part of play.

Our community partnerships make us strong. Library passes, social service memberships, Discovery Kindergarten and other community collaborations are one way we serve all children. Read more about our recent Discovery Kit gift to Topeka Boys and Girls Clubs.

Child in a red shirt wearing glasses blows a bubble in purple slime

8. The best slime recipe. 

It’s two bottles of glue, one teaspoon baking soda and three tablespoons saline solution. Trust us. We know these things. Check out 9 serious fun slime facts.

9. We can do hard things, with your help.

In 2020, we lost 93 percent of our projected admission and membership income. Donors like you sustained the museum. We know from working with children that experimenting and overcoming obstacles is one of the best ways to create strong minds and bodies. We believe 2020 will make us a stronger museum. Check out more than 160 Discovery at Home activities we produced during the pandemic.  

10. We have lots more to do, together. 

Each day, we have more ideas for ways to improve the museum and serve the community. As a community, nonprofit children’s museum, we rely on donors to make this museum better for the next generation. We have big dreams for this place, will you help? Learn more about how you can make a positive difference at the museum.