Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Discovery Center Plans to Add Music Garden, Rock Climbing Wall ; Center: Jedi Camp among Activities

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Discovery Center Plans to Add Music Garden, Rock Climbing Wall ; Center: Jedi Camp among Activities

Article excerpt

With the summer vacation season kicking off this weekend, the Kansas Children's Discovery Center is putting the final touches on two new outdoor exploration areas -- an outdoor music garden and rock climbing wall.

Andrea Etzel, with the Discovery Center's marketing and public relations department, said the staff has turned its attention to outdoor exhibits now that the indoor exploration areas have been completed.

"Many discovery centers don't have this," she said, referring to the center's outdoor treehouse, bike and trike paths, 85-foot stream, ponds, obstacle course and other outdoor features.

The 15,708-square-foot Kansas Children's Discovery Center, which sits within four wooded areas of Gage Park, opened in June 2011. Etzel said 75,000 to 80,000 people visit the center each year.

The outdoor music garden, on the northwest side of the grounds, is expected to be open by June 1. Visitors will be able to play percussion instruments of various sizes and compose their own music. Instruments will include xylophones and steel drums.

"One of our employees is a Washburn University music student and is working on the programming to go with the instruments," Etzel said.

The rock climbing wall, which is 7 feet tall and 30 feet long and will be on the southeast side of the center, will feature rock from Kansas quarries. As children move on the Climb Through Time-themed wall, they can learn the history of rock formations in Kansas and identify fossils.

"It will be open this summer at some point," she said, adding the center has been working with Bob Henthorne, chief geologist with the Kansas Department of Transportation, and the Westar Energy Green Team to install the wall.

Indoor interactive exhibits at the Discovery Center include the Art Gallery, where children can get messy while painting and creating other artworks; Build Gallery, where youngsters use a variety of blocks, wood, tools and other materials to construct towers, bridges and other structures; Careers Gallery, where visitors pretend to work various jobs; Grain Gallery, which allows children to measure, pour, shovel, hoist and transport grain on conveyor belts and augers; Science Gallery, where children get involved in various science experiments; and Moneyville, which features computer simulations and hands-on games related to budgeting, saving and spending. …

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