Valley Voices

Hey, kids: Discover The Discovery Center

The Tateosian cousins take a dino-mite photo at the Discovery Center.
The Tateosian cousins take a dino-mite photo at the Discovery Center. Special to The Bee

Looking for community-based organizations to highlight for my television and radio program, I did research online trying to find ones that benefit our community and have been around for a long time. It was then I came across The Discovery Center and learned a lot about this little “hands-on” museum.

Nestled near Fresno-Yosemite International Airport on a site that was once a brandy-producing winery, this hidden gem provides families the opportunity to spend hours learning about a variety of topics. Indoor and outdoor learning activities have taken place on this land since 1954.

On Sept. 24, my family and I visited when this museum and activity center held a tour and revealed plans to make some very nice, education-packed upgrades. As we and other guests entered the museum that morning, volunteers, staffers and members of The Fresno North Chapter of Moms Club greeted us and offered a step-by-step tour and update on plans. The partnership with organizations like the Moms Club makes complete sense and could take this math-and-science museum to the next level.

However, partnerships are nothing new for The Discovery Center. I learned that in 1979, it was with the help of the Junior League that the complex was transformed to what it is today. Plans include hardware store giant Home Depot conducting construction work on the front landscape and painting. Community members also have the opportunity to buy in by either donating or purchasing customized pavers that will be embedded on the grounds. The Junior League of Fresno is also at the table, partnering on the Discovery Youth Garden.

During the morning of the tour, families were all smiles as children walked into the colorful activity area. A large version of a game similar to the famous Operation game had children learning about human anatomy. Other exhibits include botany, geology, dinosaurs, electricity, magnets, an interactive music and sound exhibit, live animals and an American Indian basket collection.

As we walked outdoors, children were welcomed to participate in a science project making froth from glue and other materials. Participants were allowed to take home their creation.

Immediately following our experience making froth, we walked through a large collection of cactuses to what is called Indian Village. There, we were able to view and enter several wooden Native American tipis. Although not all Native American people used this structure, this exhibit gave us a glimpse into what life would have been like for those who lived in these well-constructed and cone-shaped wooden structures.

After viewing the tipis, we walked to the garden area, which had many variations of plants in different colors and sizes. Our final stop was the exhibit that had two large satellite dish-looking items that faced each other. The children got a kick out of the fact that they would talk into one and a person over on the other side would hear what they were saying because the speaker’s voice would bounce from one dish to the other.

By the time we finished looking at the outdoor exhibits, we had put in several thousand steps and covered almost all of the approximately 5 acres of land The Discovery Center sits on.

My wife and I are new at this parenting thing. We have a 26-month old and an 11-month old. What we saw in The Discovery Center was an opportunity for our children to expand their minds and have fun doing it. By the time we were done, it was nap time. On that morning, our little family discovered The Discovery Center, have you?

Sevag Tateosian is host and producer of The Central Valley Ledger airing on KFSR 90.7 FM and CMAC Comcast 93 and Att 99.