Photo courtesy of The Space Foundation Discovery Center.
by Jamie Siebrase
Blast off for a hands-on, brains-on experience that’s out of this world—literally. This interactive science center is dedicated exclusively to advancing STEAM education in the context of space, making it the only one of its kind in the Pikes Peak region.
Outer space impacts everything we do on planet earth. “Our goal at the Discovery Center is to make people aware of space, and its important role,” says public relations coordinator Colleen Parith. But it’s the experiential displays that really grab the attention of young guests.
The Discovery Center has three unique labs, and we suggest starting in the largest, the El Pomar Space Gallery, where you’ll find a massive collection of artifacts: Soviet and U.S. spacesuits and space food, for example. (You can’t eat the grub that’s on display, but space ice cream is available for purchase in the gift shop.) Use K’nex sets to build your own rocket, or view one of the Discovery Center’s scale model rockets—Mars Viking Lander included. The Discovery Center launches its Spacelab next month in partnership with NASA, bringing visitors an immersive full-size training mock-up once used for astronaut training. On March 25, Make it to Mars opens, giving visitors “an opportunity to see what it takes to get to Mars and live there,” Parith says.
Check out Science On a Sphere, located in the Northrop Grumman Science Center. Your family will view the universe in a whole new way, thanks to a cutting-edge spherical projection system created in Boulder by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “It’s as if you’re actually viewing the Earth and other planets from space,” according to Parith.
Nearby, the Lockheed Martin Space Education Center houses an AGI Space Mission Simulation Laboratory, where budding engineers get a chance to play with the same state-of-the-art equipment and technology that industry professionals use. This room is typically reserved for school field trips, but opens to the public on select Saturdays for some insane games of Minecraft.
Hour-long Space Story Parties are held for preschoolers on the first Tuesday of each month at 10:30 a.m., and include a story, activity, and themed snack. The Discovery Center also hosts special activities—Star Days and Tesla’s Toolbox—on first and third Saturdays. This month’s theme is tinkering, and extra toys will be laid out for busy hands. Free monthly Family Star Parties are another way for parents and kids to connect on-site while stargazing through dozens of telescopes.
“Here at the Discovery Center we have something you won’t see anywhere else,” Parith says. “As grown-ups, we forget how cool space can be. When the kids experience it, there’s something magical that lights up in their eyes.”
Check it Out
4425 Arrowswest Dr.
Need to know
Open Tuesday to Saturday,
10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
$10 adults, $7.50 seniors and students, $5 ages 5-17 and military, $2 ages 2-4, free under age 2
Before you start exploring, pick up a scavenger hunt at the front desk. These worksheets help children engage with exhibits on a whole new level. Don’t forget to return your completed scavenger hunt for a prize.