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Posted on: January 7, 2021

Kansas Children's Discovery Center adds Discovery Play Spaces to 10 parks

Discovery Play Space Garfield

For more information contact: Laura Burton, Kansas Children’s Discovery Center, 785-783-8300 lburton@kansasdiscovery.org  

Local kids will find some educational, fun new additions to the pavement at 10 parks and community centers in Topeka. The Kansas Children’s Discovery Center installed and activated the outdoor Discovery Play Spaces in Shawnee County parks to encourage kids to learn and play. The project was funded by Shawnee County Coronavirus Relief Funds for Community Based Programs. 

“Every sidewalk has the potential to become a place to play and explore,” said Dene’ Mosier president and CEO of the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center. “This project is one way we are bringing educational play out of the museum and into the community.”

 “Our parks and trails have been essential during the pandemic, providing families a chance to get out of the house and enjoy the benefits of being in nature and being active,” said Tim Laurent, director, Shawnee County Parks + Recreation. ”This project extends that opportunity by adding a new, fun element that families can enjoy with their children.”

Each vinyl circle is designed to encourage physical activity and serve an educational purpose. The installation is fully bilingual in English and Spanish. The first circle encourages pattern identification, comparing and contrasting, the second has engaging letters to allow spelling, the third shows two colors and shapes overlapping to create a unique color and shape, the fourth circle encourages counting, and the final circle asks children to create rhythm and noise using hands, feet, and other tools. The Discovery Space also serves as a seek and find, with hidden stars on each circle. A footprint jumping path connects the circles. The Discovery Space was designed by Topeka artist Sara O’Keeffe working alongside the museum’s education team.   

The Discovery Play Space project is the latest in a series of community-based play programs from the Discovery Center during the pandemic. Shortly after closing the building in March, museum staff called and emailed thousands of local families to find out about their needs and responded with online activity videos and learning kit deliveries. Activities helped families use play to explore science, technology, engineering, art and math. Discovery at Home online videos were viewed over 400,000 times, and nearly 3,000 learning kits were distributed. Museum programs have specifically targeted low-income and underserved children, out of concern for learning gaps created by limited access to educational resources for many families during the pandemic.   

Discovery Play Space locations were selected in partnership with Shawnee County Parks + Recreation to activate play opportunities, particularly in underserved communities. Locations are:

  • Aaron Douglas Art Park 
  • Austin Park 
  • Betty Dunn Park 
  • Central Park Community Center 
  • Garfield Community Center 
  • Hillcrest Community Center 
  • Horne Park
  • Hughes Park 
  • Oakland Community Center 
  • Santa Fe Park

About the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center: The Discovery Center is a hands-on children’s museum with a mission to enhance the lives of children and enrich the communities it serves. Since opening in 2011 in Topeka, Kansas, the Discovery Center has become a special place where children can explore, create, discover and learn through play. The museum features over 15,000 square feet of indoor exhibits and a 4.5 acre certified Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom. Outreach programs bring quality, hands-on experiences into our community to inspire a lifelong love of learning for every child. More than 700,000 visitors from 23 countries have visited the Discovery Center. The museum’s outdoor area is currently open to the public for timed, ticketed entry. The inside of the building remains closed.  Learn more at www.kansasdiscovery.org.

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