A Lite-Brite peg wall, an interactive, augmented reality sandbox, and a Lego race track all have one thing in common — they will be exhibits in Auburn’s first children’s museum and science center.
AO Discover Auburn-Opelika Children’s Hands-on Science Center will bring STEM into children’s lives in interactive, unique ways beginning next spring.
“I honestly, I have a hard time thinking through all these things that we want to bring [to the center] trying to figure out what’s going to be the most popular,” said Katie Murrah, the founder of AO Discover.
The center will be a place for learning about math, science, engineering, technology and more for kids of all ages.
“We want people from babies all the way to grandparents, we want everyone to learn about STEM and about science and be able to really interact with one another and interact with AO Discover,” Murrah said.
First STEM preschool
Murrah is also establishing Alabama’s first STEM preschool, Auburn Day School.
This preschool will teach children ages 1-5 about science, math, technology and engineering in the morning hours.
“The kids who attend Auburn Day School will have access to AO Discover for their STEM and centers experiences,” Murrah said.
Her background is in education and she said that shapes how she views everything, rather than from a business standpoint.
“The children are at the forefront of all the decisions,” she said.
There is no concrete open date for either the preschool or science center, but both are expected next year. Auburn Day School could open early in the year and AO Discover in the spring, Murrah said.
To prepare for the center, AO Discover is hosting it’s first Harvest Discovery experience. On Saturday, children and their families are invited to R&R Landscaping (12359 County Road 188) for a day full of learning.
“It is the ultimate fall family festival,” Murrah said.
For $15 per adult (free for children), there will be a nature exploration trail, music activities, art projects and even some superheroes and princesses.
Many of the different events or exhibits are sponsored by local groups and businesses, she said.
The ticket price goes directly into supporting the Discovery Center, she said. In order to encourage sales, each ticket purchased enters the buyer into a contest to win one of several prize packages — including landscaping from R&R Landscaping, vacations to Great Wolf Lodge, Grand National Spa, Orange Beach and more.
Each ticket is an entry to win, but buyers do not actually have to be present at the Discovery Day to win their prize.
Anyone who wants to be involved can attend the Discovery Day and/or donate directly to the center.
“We can’t wait to focus on critical thinking for kids and we can’t wait to see them make connections and just really light that fire of joy for learning and learning science and math and watching that grow,” Murrah said.