The DISCOVERY Children’s Museum celebrates 25 years of educating our valley’s children.
Written by Jeanette Schneider
Las Vegas’s community gems shine bright, and in its 25th year, The Discovery Children’s Museum is well-suited for a silver celebration. The museum is a gorgeous site within Symphony Park and adjacent to The Smith Center, and CEO Tifferney White has made the education of Las Vegas’s children her top priority. Aside from interactive exhibits, most impressive is the reach the museum has into the community.
Youth Works, a program within the museum, annually serves between 200-250 high school students from neighboring Title I Schools by offering teens their first jobs in a place where they are prepared for their second job and the wide world that awaits them. Students are matched to museum positions that best suit their educational needs, and they can take advantage of peer and staff tutoring, training, and mentorship. To date, students within the Youth Works program boast a 99% graduation rate.
The museum’s Education Team works closely with each Clark County School District elementary school to determine the focus of every field trip, with galleries focusing on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), as well as arts, culture, and traveling exhibits. With 25,000 students annually visiting through field trips that have been well-matched to their core learning, the impact on Las Vegas’s kids is significant.
To make learning more accessible, the museum also launched Discovery On Wheels House Calls, a program that takes the museum on the road and into the classroom. Curriculum was created within Nevada State standards and covers health, science and our bodies. The course offers children the opportunity to learn about the human body through the eyes of a specializing doctor. While studying the ins-and-outs of a pulmonary specialist through an interactive learning environment, the children have the opportunity to see how both positive and negative behaviors and lifestyles affect the vascular system. The focus is dependent on grade level, and between 15,000 and 18,000 kids participate in the program each year.
If you ask The Discovery Children’s Museum staff what the next 25 years holds for them, they are very earnest to share their desire to collaborate with other organizations in bringing top-notch and “very real” learning experiences to our valley. An example of their very inventive collaborations include a performance at The Smith Center with the Las Vegas Philharmonic. Aspects of the musical performance were highlighted throughout exhibits, including “Young at Art,” an activity that encouraged children to paint to the tempo of music. They later explored the science of sound waves. The museum’s Water World exhibit was adjusted so that the flow of the water was related to a part of the performance.
The next time you visit, take it from this writer and parent — take a stroll through the galleries and watch the faces of the children in the throes of learning. Undoubtedly you will recognize the importance of this community asset as you see the little minds whir and click. With the Discovery Children’s Museum’s long-standing history, it is highly likely the next generation of Nevadans will be as touched by it as you have.