MT. PLEASANT — Legos, building blocks, robots and dinosaurs — the new Children’s Discovery Museum (CDM) has it all.
An extension of Mt. Pleasant Public Library, the CDM is located around the corner from the main library space on the lower level of the Civic Center building. After being approved in September by city council to use the space, the library officially opened the interactive museum this past Tuesday.
Library staff transformed the former office into a colorful play area for kids to enjoy.
Library director Jeff Meyer said the library has acquired about $4,500 worth of learning activities for kids, funded through a $3,000 grant from the Enhance Henry County Foundation and a $1,500 grant from the Alliant Energy Foundation.
“The library and the Friends of the Library have also received anonymous donations that have exceeded our expectations. We are very humbled by the generosity of people in this community,” he said.
Meyer added the library has just received another grant that will allow CDM to purchase dinosaur exhibits.
“We are very excited. It progressed faster than I thought in terms of funding and allocating resources,” he said.
Meyer explained the CDM is meant to be an interactive and hands-on learning space for local children.
“We’re going to start off with structure programs where teachers and different groups will make an appointment or the library will have a program and then in the future as we get our bearings, we’ll start to open it up more and more,” Meyer said.
For the first week, children’s librarian Beth Kerlin hosted after school programs in the CDM.
“I think hands-on is the best way to go. It’s all hands-on and creativity and letting them do what they want with a specific theme and just explore,” Kerlin said.
Kerlin also pointed to a quote from world renowned early childhood educator, Loris Malaguzzi, that she put on one of the CDM’s walls, which reads, “Children need the freedom to appreciate the infinite resources of their hands, their eyes, and their ears; the resources of forms, materials, sounds and colors.”
“It’s kind of the theme and the idea I want to use for everything in this space,” she said, “Creativity is important because they don’t do that as much anymore. They’re not told to just sit down and draw, instead they’re always staring at a screen. We’ll have some technology, but it’ll be more hands-on and using their imagination.”
While word still is making its way out about the new space, kids who have found the CDM have excitedly participated in Kerlin’s activities. Elementary school students Talon Dehart, Austin Adams and Sebastion Ramirez ambled down to the space and excitedly honed in on the Lego room.
“I didn’t know this was here, but I’m going to come back,” Dehart said.
“This is so cool,” Adams said, “I love Legos.”