New Water Experience Creates In-Depth Learning
The Kansas Children’s Discovery Center, Topeka’s nonprofit children’s museum, officially opened a new outdoor water exhibit today. The new feature is designed to encourage water exploration and hands-on learning with a series of natural pools and fountains. Built on the site of the former pond, the exhibit has turned the water experience from a place where children could observe to one designed to encourage interaction. The exhibit was sponsored by Evergy, whose financial and volunteer support have made the project possible. The feature was designed and installed by Adam Tucker of local Fantasy Falls and Water Gardens.
The new Discovery Pond is the epitome of STEAM based learning, providing incredible nature-based play experiences, and serving as a visual and educational anchor of the outdoor area. Children exploring natural waterscapes are learning STEAM concepts alongside principles of our most critical natural resource. Water play inspires children’s natural scientific curiosity as they experiment with force, pressure, fluidity and buoyancy. When a child builds a small dam with natural elements, tests a boat, or runs fingers through a running stream, they feel scientific principles at work.
The Discovery Center water experience is unique in that it encourages play in a natural water source. Children can see a realistic stream at work, and the impact of textures, native plants and organisms on the environment. These experiences stimulate questions about the water cycle, environmental concerns, and the value of water in the ecosystem. This differs significantly from the experience children have at a water park or swimming pool.
The Discovery Pond is just one part of the 4.5 outdoor acres adventure area at the museum, featuring a pirate ship, treehouse, music garden, stream, bikes, trikes, wagons, challenge courses, a child-friendly zipline, giant sandbox, and more.
The space has earned national recognition as a Certified Nature Explore Classroom from the Nature Explore program. Nature Explore Outdoor Classrooms offer interactive elements such as musical instruments made of natural materials, garden and pathway areas, and natural materials for building and creating art. Open green space allows families to try a disc golf game, enjoy a picnic or relax by a steam. Paved and natural paths wind through shaded woods, revealing hidden tunnels and exciting discoveries, perfect for fueling the imaginations of little explorers.
Media Coverage of this Story
Take off your shoes for the latest Kansas Children's Discovery Center exhibit
Tim Hrenchir, Topeka Capital-Journal