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Discovery Center Reaches Out to Families in Need, Local Businesses Pitch In
The Kansas Children’s Discovery Center is still closed, but is reaching out to serve families in need with the help of local business partners. The nonprofit children’s museum recently began delivering free educational toys and science kids to at-risk families in Topeka, and launched online resources for children with an autism spectrum disorder and Spanish-speaking families.
In the past two weeks, 104 children received surprise, free deliveries of educational toys, science kits and other items to help them learn at home. These children, whose families all have discounted Discovery Center memberships based on need, each received a bag designed just for them by the Discovery Center education team. This program will continue throughout the summer. The bags were sponsored by the Devlin Family and Vaughn Pediatric Dentistry.
A new website offers at-home activities and resources specifically designed for children with an autism spectrum disorder and their families. The website is an online extension of the museum’s Puzzle Pieces program. When the museum is open, Puzzle Pieces offers a free admission day on the second Sunday of every month for those children and their families. Storytimes, music lessons, and parent information are all available free of charge thanks to sponsorship from Target and Pediatric Associates of Topeka.
The museum has posted free educational activities online daily since closure on March 13. Two new activities posted in both English and Spanish helped launch the Descubriendo en Casa website, a place to find activities accessible to Spanish-speaking families. Videos demonstrate educational activities that can be easily and inexpensively replicated using supplies found in most homes. The videos have collectively reached more than 250,000 viewers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and the organization’s website. Videos are primarily sponsored by Evergy with additional support from Topeka Collegiate. The new bilingual videos are funded by Hill’s Pet Nutrition.
Steve Spangler Shoutout to the Discovery Center!
We're all pretty huge Steve Spangler fans here at the Discovery Center, so Caitlin Luttjohann, Director of STEAM Education, recently arranged a science experiment how-to and shoutout from Steve to lift our spirits. We thought you might like it, too! Thanks, Steve!
Governor Laura Kelly Praises Discovery at Home
Thank you, Governor Laura Kelly, for recognizing the work of our team! Like you, we are incredibly proud of Kansas parents, grandparents and caregivers who have been caring for Kansas kids at home. We are thrilled to have had over 100,000 people view our resources since our building closed, and will continue to offer free content to ensure every child has access to quality, educational play experiences.
Governor Laura Kelly Praises Discovery at Home
Hi. Governor Laura Kelly, here. Today, I wanted to express my appreciation for the many parents, grandparents, and families all across Kansas who are making sure to stay home to help stop the spread of COVID-19. I know it isn't easy, but you're doing a great job, and I am so proud of all of you.
And I want to thank organizations like the Kansas Children's Discovery Center, which is sharing its programming online free of charge. These educational and entertaining programs have been used more than 100,000 times over the past few weeks.
So thank you for all you're doing, and hang in there. Together, we'll get through this.
Discovery at Home Reaches 150K
May 1, 2020 - The Kansas Children’s Discovery Center announced today it has reached over 150,000 people with online educational content since closure. Since March 14, the nonprofit children’s museum has posted free activities encouraging children and families to learn and play together exploring science, art, nature, physical activity, and more.
Videos demonstrate educational activities that can be easily and inexpensively replicated using supplies found in most homes. Activities are developed by the Discovery Center education team and community partners. A recent video featuring a NASA spacesuit engineer was the museum’s most engaging online content to date. The videos have collectively reached 151,149 viewers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and the organization’s website.
“We are thrilled that so many people are enjoying our online content,” said Dene’ Mosier, President/CEO of the Discovery Center, “play is powerful, it can heal and transform. Children need play to imagine, create, reduce stress and inspire joy. Although our building is closed, we’re working hard to continue to support families.”
Evergy, Topeka Collegiate School, and multiple private donors have contributed financially to the museum to support Discovery at Home programming. The museum is also now selling Discovery Bags, activity and toy kits delivered to homes, to generate additional revenue and provide fun for families.
Revenue from donors and sales is critical to the museum. The Kansas Children's Discovery Center is a privately-funded, nonprofit organization that relies on admission revenue to operate. The museum receives no ongoing government or taxpayer dollars, and is losing an estimated $1,797 every day they are closed. As a high-touch, hands-on environment, the museum will have to make many changes before reopening to the public. When the museum opens, capacity limits will further restrict revenue.
“Reopening will be a real challenge, but we are working hard to make sure we can serve families safely and keep the museum sustainable. Donors, large and small, are helping us make that happen,” said Mosier.
The Discovery Center hosts over 95,000 annual visitors. One quarter of visitors reside outside Shawnee County, making the museum a significant driver of regional tourism. The Discovery Center is seeking donations, video sponsorships and Discovery Bag sales to support the museum during closure.
In the News: Kansas Children’s Discovery Center creates at-home video series
Brianna Childers, Topeka Capital-Journal
March 29, 2020
Have you ever tried making a stomp rocket? What about water bottle boats? Have you been wanting to create a nature adventure book? During a time when parents are trying to find ways to keep their kids busy, the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center has stepped in to lend a helping hand.
In the interest of our community and the families we serve, the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center will temporarily close to the public for at least two weeks, beginning tomorrow, March 14, 2020.
We understand anytime we close, it places a burden on the families that rely on us as a safe place for you to learn and play together. We do not make this decision without careful consideration. We have received recommendations from experts and officials that lead us to the conclusion that closure is the correct strategy for our community. When it comes to serving children and families, we will always choose to be cautious in the interests of those we serve.
The Discovery Center has had zero reports of staff members, volunteers or visitors who have been exposed to COVID-19, and our community of visitors is generally low risk. We also follow cleaning procedures that follow strict internal guidelines as well as the safety guidelines issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, we are choosing to do our part to encourage the social distancing that may help our community flatten the curve, or take the peak of infections out of this pandemic.
During our closure, the Discovery Center Education Team is still hard at work! We will be sharing information about how families can continue to engage in educational play at home at www.kansasdiscovery.org/home and our social media channels.
Have any questions about coronavirus? Visit the Center for Disease Control website.
Thank you for continuing to support your local, nonprofit children's museum. We look forward to seeing you back at the museum as soon as possible.
Kansas Children's Discovery Center
Health Resources for Your Family
In the News: Kansas Children's Discovery Center opens for special MLK event
Isaac French, WIBW
January 20, 2020
The Discovery Center is usually closed on Mondays but they decided to open their doors on the holiday to allow everyone in the community to spend time together. The Discovery Center gave kids a chance to watch the iconic "I Have a Dream" speech while sharing dreams of their own.
In the News: Topeka kids learn the importance of MLK day
Kelli Peltier, KSNT
January 20, 2020
Kids at the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center in Topeka were able to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day in their own way. Children wrote dreams for themselves and the world on an “I dream” cloud.
In the News: Kansas Children’s Discovery Center shows off DIY catapults
Brittany Moore, WIBW
January 7, 2020
The Kansas Children’s Discovery Center’s Caitlin Luttjohann stopped by KSNT News Tuesday morning to give a how-to on mini catapults for some engineering fun with your kids. Luttjohann also teased an upcoming event at the KCDC, where kids will make use of a catapult of a larger scale
In the News: Younger crowd celebrates "Noon" Year's Eve at KS Children's Discovery Center
Doug Brown, WIBW
December 31, 2019
More than a thousand balloons fell from the ceiling, much to the delight of attendees at one of Topeka's earliest parties to welcome the new year. The Kansas Children's Discovery Center hosted its annual Noon Year's Eve Celebration.