In the News: Discovery Center and Boys & Girls Clubs of Topeka Promote Science Superheroes
Project funded by Bartlett & West distributes 250 learning kits to kids
The Discovery Center is giving 250 free Superhero Science Discovery Kits to Boys & Girls Clubs of Topeka. The kits, which were funded by Bartlett & West, contain three different science activities that let children assemble simple machines that move objects with the power of science, a superhero mask with cape and a bilingual playbook with project ideas and profiles of science careers.
"As we approach the provision of five summer enrichment programs with a commitment to safety, service and the success of every youth we reach, we could not be more thankful for such a wonderful investment in youth” said Dawn McWilliams, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Topeka. “After a year of great disruption, learning loss and social emotional challenges, the Discovery Learning kits will provide hands on learning and creative enrichment during the time when it is needed the most. We are grateful for the vision of Bartlett & West to create these kits and for the spirit of community and collaboration of Kansas Children’s Discovery Center to reach youth in our community who need us most!"
“The kits are built to encourage curiosity and experimentation,” said Caitlin Luttjohann, director of STEAM education at the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center, who designed the kits. “Each activity connects to a science career, helping children link their interests to the real work of scientists and engineers. This project is a fun way for Bartlett & West to help us build the next generation of thinkers.”
Superhero Science Kits are the latest in a series of community-based play programs from the Discovery Center. Shortly after closing the building in March, museum staff called and emailed thousands of local families to find out about their needs and responded with online activity videos and learning kit deliveries. Activities helped families use play to explore science, technology, engineering, art and math. Discovery at Home online videos were viewed over 400,000 times, and nearly 3,000 learning kits were distributed. Ten Discovery Play Spaces, bilingual, educational vinyl installations, were installed at local parks in Topeka. Museum programs have specifically targeted low-income and underserved children, out of concern for learning gaps created by limited access to educational resources for many families during the pandemic.
These projects are a continuation of existing access programs at the museum. More than one in ten Discovery Center admissions are free or donor subsidized. In 2019, these admissions included over 1,000 Museums for All visitors from families receiving TANF or WIC, and over 5,000 field trip visitors from schools with a high percentage of children receiving free or reduced cost lunches.