Children’s Discovery Museum unleashes the imagination while learning | New
“Please touch” is the message of the Children’s Discovery Museum of the Golden Crescent in Victoria. Not just touch, but jump, play, build, create, imagine, read, move, explore and do more.
Learning can be fun in the summer when kids have the chance to spread their wings in a place like the Children’s Discovery Museum. The museum launched its popular summer camp programs while providing a great place for families to exercise their children’s creativity through play and exploration.
What will you find inside the large building on Sam Houston Drive? Science tables, Jurassic lab, ‘town’ with bakery, baby hospital, ambulance, vet center, cabin, stage, puppet area and safe play area for toddlers and preschool children. There’s also a secret lab with an escape route, crafting space, construction areas, a giant “Lite-Brite” and more.
Elizabeth Tise, the museum’s executive director, said each weekly summer camp program has a theme. For example, Camp Castaway, which will take place from June 20 to 24, is an adventure.
“In the morning, we do the 3 to 8 year olds, and in the afternoon, it’s the 9 to 13 year olds. It’s like a camp survivor,” she said. Activities will include building shelters and rafts and learning to adapt to an environment.
Director of Education Sara Byrd said, “Castaway is really focused on adapting to climates, environments and weather conditions. If you were stuck on a desert island, what would you do to survive? If you were stuck on an island in Alaska, what would you do to survive? You know, we’re going to focus on whether we’re going to build a raft. We are going to do a lot of fun things – we are going to make a homemade compass with a magnet and a needle. And we’re just going to learn the science behind things because kids really need to understand that there’s science in just about everything.
Byrd said their current camp is “all about ice cream. I mean summer and ice cream pretty much go together. So why not? And, you know, make it a STEM project. For the older ones, we partner with Baskin-Robbins.
With the help of Baskin-Robbins owner Carlos Garza, they explore dairy. Older kids do project-based learning on things like how to own an ice cream shop or an ice cream truck, while younger kids do crafts and mini-projects.
“A lot of science with ice cream,” Byrd said.
Summer camp at the museum is about “learning to play and playing to learn,” Byrd said. “We really want kids to have a lot of fun, but they need to get something out of it that they can actually apply in real life and also in education. So that’s really our mission: to promote lifelong learning through dynamic educational experiences.
Byrd said she’s a big proponent of differentiated learning, which recognizes that different children learn differently.
“You know, kids learn through art and creativity, or they learn by reading, or they learn by listening, or they learn by acting,” Byrd said. “So there are about four different main ways to apply a subject.”
She designs their programs to integrate these different learning methods.
Tise said it takes a lot to get everything working properly. Fundraising is an important aspect of his job. This year, the museum will hold a golf tournament at the Victoria Country Club on October 7 to raise funds for the installation.
Tise, who grew up in Ganado, has a degree in psychology and describes herself as a “music school dropout”. She studied the piano. This experience inspires him to add music to the children’s museum programs whenever possible.
She works with a small dedicated team and community volunteers.
“My goal is to really get more known in the community, to do more of these special projects, to be able to get more grants,” Tise said. “My focus is financial, literally all day.”
But, she added, sometimes all it takes is stepping in and doing whatever is necessary.
“I’ve done a bit of everything, from cleaning bathrooms to pest control,” she said.
In addition to summer camps, which run until the end of July, the museum holds “Wacky Wednesdays”, which include requests such as wearing wild socks on Crazy Sock Day or dressing polka dots and checks for Mismatch Day.
The museum also offers a special summer membership offer. A family of four is admitted in June, July and August for $55.
“Just come hang out with us at the museum. There’s a lot to do and we have air conditioning,” Tise said with a smile.