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April 17, 2017, 07:41:44 AM

Latest Fun Play Space for Kids, the Science Play Space Initiative

by Rashienne Naranjo

July 20, 2015 - 4:01 PM

Take your kids to Mount Vernon’s latest science centre, the Science Play-Space Initiative, located at 227 Main Street.

The Science Play-Space Initiative’s main goal is to help kids learn through fun activities. “Through play, we learn a lot of things… [and] we do many things to promote science as a fun experience,” Rachel Garcia, one of the SPI's directors said.

They started in February 2011 and aimed to provide children with a non-profit play space with a strong focus on science. The play space was funded by grants from local organizations such as the Community Foundation of Mount Vernon and Knox County, and the Ariel Foundation. They have also received funding from NASA in the past. They operated as a non-profit organization until February 2013, which allowed them to earn enough money to fund new educational activities for kids. They have joined the Association of Science and Technology Centres and are recognized by them as an official science centre.

The Science Play-Space Initiative boasts a variety of learning areas, such as the baby area, which features educational toys, such as shape sorters, and the toddler area, which features a kiddie kitchen space and a medical kit. Other fun features include a magnet table, a small climber, and wall hangings with counting and ABC parts. They also have an Imagination Playground, which includes a set of large foam blocks to be assembled by children to form their own contraptions with the use of their imagination. There is a small craft room with paper, glue, scissors, water colors, and other art crafts, and a weighing table with a variety of scales nearby. On two other tables, children can also play with play dough and "Floam" (play foam) which include their own modeling equipment.

For older children, there is the Cubelets table, where they can combine Cubelets in many different ways to create robots which have sensors that allow them to respond to their environment. There is also a math station and a table with microscopes, light exploration, circuits, and other exhibits.

“We have a lot of educational toys, but we also throw in scientific equipment, such as beakers and graduated cylinders, from time to time. They’re plastic, so the kids don’t break them,” Garcia said.

Another feature of the Science Play-Space Initiative is their summer camps, which involve a whole new level of scientific activities such as programming and robotics. Two of these camps, which are still accepting registrations, are the Classic Lego Robotics camp for children in grades 6-8, where kids learn to build Lego robot models, and the Android Code camp for middle school and high school students, where they learn how to bend their android phones to their will.

While the Science Play-Space Initiative is already an amazing place for kids to be, they are planning on expanding. In partnership with Kenyon College, they will be moving to a new building located in downtown, Mount Vernon—the Buckeye Candy building, which is currently undergoing renovations. The SPI will be moving in in the summer of next year.

“There’s nothing quite exciting as having lots of stuff to play with that’s not usually found at home,” Garcia said. The Science Play Space Initiative is a great place for kids to explore, discover, experiment, learn, and play all at once.

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