Monday, July 15, 2013

If you’ve lost your marbles, find them at a science center

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

If you’ve lost your marbles, find them at a science center

When was the last time you “lost your marbles” or “had your marbles counted?”

Maybe you can find them at Marbles Kids Museum in downtown Raleigh.

The name comes from a wall which wraps around the museum and is filled with over one million marbles that light up at night. The museum brochure says that at Marbles “kids are encouraged to use their marbles (brains) to think and learn.”

Play is the work of children, and Marbles makes that work fun and inviting for the child’s mind. We took our grandchildren, a girl age 5 and a boy age 2, to the popular kid’s place on a Saturday morning recently. The building was literally jumping with children at work learning about their world.

Two floors of excitement house activity centers named “Around Town,” “Splash,” “Ideaworks,” “Art Loft,” “Money Palooza,” and “Power 2 Play.”

Everything is reduced to child size so they can fully explore and experiment.

Learning centers for children like Marbles and Port Discover operate with the idea that kids should be free to explore, experiment, observe, and come to their own conclusions about the world. Both centers are part of the Association of Science and Technology Centers Travel Passport Program which grants members free admission to over 300 science centers, aquariums, zoos, and museums nationwide.

In North Carolina, there are fifteen science centers to visit with one in almost every major city. You must live at least 90 miles away from the center to get free admission through the passport. The program also includes centers in Charlottesville, Martinsville, Richmond, Roanoke, and Winchester, Virginia. If you become a member of Port Discover, for ten more dollars, you can become an ASTC member also.
Statistics report that the United States ranks 23rd in math and 31st in science among 65 top industrial countries in the world. Since educational programs and teacher training have been severely cut in the state budget, Port Discover has become a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers, administrators, day care centers, afterschool centers, churches, girl scouts and many other organizations that serve the children of our community.

Through our school outreach programs, the center walk-in visits, Second Saturday events, toddler programs, afterschool programs, summer camps, Earth Day Festival, teacher training programs, and adult Science Café, and this Daily Advance column, we provided over 18,000 adults and children with information about science topics last year.

Funding for Port Discover comes from grants, contributions, and membership, and no admission is charged.

Membership not only gives you the satisfaction of supporting science education in our community, but also has rewards. Early registration for programs, center birthday parties, First Friday Kids Art-In, discounts for camps and science shop purchases are all benefits of membership.

We invite you to come by the center or go online ( to investigate becoming a member at Port Discover, Northeastern North Carolina’s Center for Hands-on Science. You’ll be glad you did, and so will we.


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