HAGERSTOWN, Md. (WDVM) – The Discovery Station in downtown Hagerstown was once a traveling educational program. The Children’s Museum is now celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
Founded in 1996, Discovery Station began as a mobile education program visiting libraries and other venues like the Valley Mall. The exhibition featured many practical educational programs for both children and adults.
Brittany Wedd, Executive Director of Discovery Station, stated that Discovery Station is also celebrating its 16th anniversary in the museum area on West Washington Street. The museum moved to its permanent location in 2005.
“We have had over 175,000 visitors through our doors. So it is very exciting to see the development of the museum for yourself and to support as many families,” said Wedd.
Discovery Station closed its doors for six months due to the pandemic, but during that time they were able to turn and continue providing resources for families back home. The museum hosted live streams on social media and virtual classes to keep the kids busy during the pandemic.
“So we had to move all of our initiatives and programs to the virtual arena,” explained Wedd. “There were a lot of live streams of us doing educational programs and just activities to really connect kids with other kids and support families as their child’s first teacher.”
Carrie and Jason Mansfield currently teach their two boys, 5-year-old Judson and 2-year-old Theo, who have never seen the inside of a classroom. The boys were more than happy to explore the museum, while Carrie and her husband were thrilled to expand the learning opportunities for their boys.
“It’s great because it makes things really tangible for him to learn things in a physical way, and he can touch them and learn personally instead of just hearing them,” Carrie explained. “And you know we have limited resources at home, but you come here and you have a lot more things to see and do.”
During the summer, Discovery Station also distributed 3,000 free STEAM or science, technology, engineering, art, and math kits to families across town. Wedd explained that the most rewarding part of her job is helping and supporting children as they learn about STEAM.
“Just to see all the kids come through the doors and really support them when they take a STEAM education in general,” Wedd said. “We firmly believe that playing is learning, and we really embrace that philosophy here at the museum.”
Discovery Station will introduce two new exhibits in the coming months. An exhibition focuses on the world’s rainforest to highlight the different animals in the different ecosystems, as well as topics such as deforestation and climate change. The second exhibition sheds light on elements of STEAM and allows visitors to expand their knowledge of robotics. The exhibition was designed with the help of a NASA engineer.
Discovery Station will also launch its Common Sense Community Building Initiative this summer. The initiative will develop and distribute 25,000 STEAM kits by 2025.
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