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One of the Greatest Children's Learning Institutions in the World

One of the Greatest Children's Learning Institutions in the World
by Jennifer LB Leese

Have you ever stood across the room and whispered to someone? Did they hear you? Did they whisper back? Like hundreds of other youngsters that will pass through Discovery Station in downtown Hagerstown, 9-year-old Cameron and 8-year-old Jordan discovered that almost anything is possible.
From studying how the Stonehenge tells time, to exploring math using crystals, gem stones, fossils and rocks, in the Vault, there are learning opportunities around every corner.
Hands-on children's museums encourage contextually relevant reasoning. Museums such as Discovery Station at Hagerstown are successful, concrete examples of interactive, participatory learning. As reflected in the museum's interactive exhibits, the combination of a realistic setting and the use of objects that belong in that setting is now being recognized as an important educational development. Area schools recognize that and have scheduled elementary student field trips for the 2005-2006 school year.
Museums with hands-on displays are increasingly popular--unparalleled--and the environment is used successfully in the museum context that it can easily be translated into the elementary classroom. Children's museums are one of the greatest children's learning institutions in the world.
The idea for Discovery Station at Hagerstown was born in 1996, opening its doors on May 10, 2005. The museum is comprised of 4 officers and 14 directors. "We knew we had the right idea," says Marie Byers, president of Discovery Station at Hagerstown. "We've had over 2,500 people visit since mid-May with people from 4 countries and 10 different states."
"We have operated as a "Discovery Station without walls" for several years with our first exhibit, "Inside Out: the Visible Human" courtesy of the Maryland Science Center at the Valley Mall, followed by a successful interactive "Dinosaur Day" at the Washington County Free Library."
Discovery Station is located in the beautiful, historic Nicodemus Bank building at 101 West Washington Street across from the Washington County courthouse. The original bank housed the Federal Depository during the Civil War. The magnificent main vault with leaded glass was installed in 1913 and is used as the Vault Gallery. The building's three floors contain 5 vaults. With its white marble exterior and towering palladium windows, it is one of the most architecturally significant buildings in downtown Hagerstown.
At Discovery Station, housing two floors of hands-on exhibits relating to science, technology, and history, children can follow the adventures of Eyecare Bear as he embarks on an imaginary space ship ride through the human eye, listen and watch themed educational films in the upstairs theater, and operate trains and blow the whistle in one of the transportation exhibits.
"We are unlimited at what we can do," says Marie.
Other exhibits include fun with learning, such as the arts and crafts area where you can design your own puppet, or designated reading areas where children can grow and learn. And who could resist sinking their hands into soft sand, digging with hopes of discovering a new dinosaur.
Explore the Betty Clopper Early Childhood Gallery on the first floor with your child and watch them build and learn. At this gallery, children can discover different sizes, shapes, and patterns, as well as their special relationships, and the basic physics. These imaginative play and learn activities are age appropriate for children 2-5 with parent accompaniment.
Knowledge and entertainment abounds here! Learn your colors, explore the development of the C&O Canal, and experience the emergence of the railroad and the vital part that it played in the everyday life of Hagerstown natives. Hands-on displays, artifacts, and historic photos bring the story of local transportation alive for young and old alike!
Discovery Station is not only geared to the preschool and toddler set, there is plenty for the elementary and middle school aged child as well. The Interactive Gallery features demonstration-learning programs of interest to children and adults. Featured topics include teachings of our body and mind, humans and the world we live in, the animal kingdom, earth sciences, and technology.
Demonstration-learning lectures are presented on designated Saturdays and Sundays of each month on a pre-announced topic at the Discovery Station at Hagerstown. Upcoming events include February 4- Rodney Martin: "Mr. Star and Sky", February 18- Pat Miller: "Peaceable Paws and Dubhy", February 25- Dave Kaplan: "Butterflies and You".
March 4- Dean Burkett: "Mr. Magic", Sunday Extra- March 5- Nancy Robinson and "Juliette Low", March 25- "Maryland Day".
April 1- Robert Peters: "The Reptile Man", April 8- Pat Miller: "Power of Positive Dog Training".
(BOLD)The Organization
Volunteer board members who serve without compensation governs Discovery Station at Hagerstown, Inc. Members serve three-year terms. Currently, Discovery Station has no paid staff. Programs and activities are conducted by the officers and directors assisted by an enthusiastic and dedicated group of volunteers from throughout the region.
Discovery Station is a private non-profit educational environment. They welcome your generous support to help continue their success. Tax deductible contributions, donations, grants, endowments, in-kind donations, stock transfers, monetary gifts, and multi-year pledges are necessary and accepted to fund Discovery Station's programs, exhibits, renovations, and daily operations. Send personal, corporate, and foundation contributions to: Discovery Station at Hagerstown, Inc., 101 West Washington Street, Hagerstown, MD 21740 or call 301-790-0076 to set something up.
Businesses and organizations may prefer to become Discovery Station sponsors rather than contributors...What's the difference? While all financial or in-kind donations are largely tax-deductible, sponsorships are a thoughtful way to demonstrate your community support through your marketing budget. Whether you sponsor the cost of an exhibit or an entire gallery, you will be recognized and remembered for your generosity. Contact the museum at the address and phone number given above for more information.
Discovery Station welcomes the invaluable contributions of time, energy and talent from volunteers.
Volunteer/docents are needed daily for hosting visitors. Creative talent is needed for poster/sign making, exhibit production and more. Please call Marie Byers at 301-790-0076 to offer your individual skill and interest.
Annual membership is available for $50.00 per family with a $5.00 charge for each additional family member. Membership benefits include full-year admission to Discovery Station, 10% off Treasure Gift Shoppe items, 10% off booked theme birthday parties, and admission to 260 participating museums beyond a 90-mile radius of Hagerstown in the U.S., Canada and other countries with membership card. Grandparent membership cards and gift cards are available.
(BOLD)Birthday Parties at Whimsical Wishes
"We do it all!"
Celebrate your child's special day with Whimsical Wishes, a mother and daughter operation, at Discovery Station at Hagerstown with a fun filled party package that includes one and a half hours of themed activities, games, crafts, a tasty birthday cake with all the trimmings, a unique goody bag, and a gift pass back to the museum for you and your guests.
The basic party with a flat rate is set for 8 children. However, they can accommodate 12 with a small extra fee per child. Parents and adult guests can relax and chat in the Explorer Cafe, taking turns in the party room.
Party themes include: "Pretty, Pretty Princess" complete with crowns, a frog prince, and royal slippers; "Pirates and Planks" where mates and captains alike will have a daring adventure, "Jungle Jam" hosting lions, tigers, and snakes, "Dino Dig" where you'll chase a T-Rex and make a dinosaur fossil, "Creepy Crawlies" lets kids have a buggy good time, and a "Bubble Blowout" party uplifts kids by creating and chasing bubbles.
"For the parent it's so easy--no fuss, no bother," says Pat Beard, member of the board of directors and co-owner of Whimsical Wishes. "It's convenience with ease--you have nothing to do but show up!"
For more information on a birthday party pack call Pat Beard and/or Heidi Potterfield at 301-667-7729.
(BOLD)Treasure Gift Shoppe
The Treasure Gift Shoppe is open during regular Discovery Station operating hours. Visitors looking to purchase a unique remembrance gift will have plenty to choose from at the museum's store. Toys, games, greeting cards, and interesting items for all ages can be purchased here as well, and if you're interested in just exploring the gift shop, you can browse and purchase items at the Treasure Gift Shoppe without paying museum admission.
Traveling exhibits come from the Maryland Science Center, the Smithsonian and other companion museums. Discovery Station at Hagerstown, Inc. is a proud member of Associations of Science and Technology Centers.
Discovery Station at Hagerstown is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10:00AM-4:00PM; Sunday from 1:00PM-4:00PM. They are closed: Mondays, Sundays during July and August, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year's Day, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and Independence Day.
To visit this first-for-the-area museum head toward downtown. Limited on-site parking is available on the south side of the building. Enter from Summit Avenue opposite the Courthouse. Metered parking is available on adjacent downtown streets and in a city parking lot one block west at the southwest corner of West Washington Street and South Prospect Street. Visit; call 301-790-0076, or write for more information.

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