Discovery Room Renovation at the Saint Louis Science Center
In December 2014, the Saint Louis Science Center premiered its newly re-designed early childhood space, the Discovery Room. Along with a new entrance and separate exit to help traffic flow, the interior of the Discovery Room is largely divided into three main learning areas – water, nature and sky – all creating unique and fun exploration and building opportunities. With the exception of the new aquarium, everything new was conceptualized, designed, built and painted by the Saint Louis Science Center’s own Production, Electronics and Design teams in collaboration with Science Center Educators. The new activities incorporate best practices in early childhood education.
The water section houses the long-time favorite water table, as well as a brand new 270 gallon saltwater aquarium with a raised platform for 360° viewing. Visitors can use large blue foam building blocks from Imagination Playground to make anything from a robot to a castle. The only limitations are within your imagination!
Climb inside a giant hollow log tree where the much beloved – or despised depending on your personal preference – Madagascar hissing cockroaches and rainforest cockroaches reside. A new MicroEye microscope allows visitors to examine 3D objects closely on a large screen.
Play-act in the new shadow theater using six, one-size-fits-all animal costumes that will change periodically with the seasons. Currently all the costumes are animals that can be found in winter in the Midwest – squirrel, rabbit, opossum, raccoon and a male and female cardinal.
The most prominent new feature is the two-story rocket, complete with an emergency escape slide and interactive computer control panels that allow visitors to communicate via a NASA inspired CapCom station. Children can learn basic engineering concepts of space and space flight. Create constellations, real or imagined, in the star room and launch a shuttle from Earth to a moonscape table. A solar system mural takes up the entire back wall, along with a projection of the moon that updates daily with the current moon phases.
“We are so happy to bring all these new immersive environments to our visitors,” said Melissa Thomas, Senior Educator for the Discovery Room. “Children and their families will really be able to let their minds and spirits grow and learn as they play in new, creative ways. I’m especially excited about the weekly activities that will be led by our staff.”
These staff-led activities, held under the red pteranodon soaring above the middle of room, change every week. They last about 15-20 minutes, and families can choose to participate or keep playing independently.
For more information on how to incorporate any of the new features into your own early childhood space, contact Melissa Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org