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Discovery Station at Hagerstown Inc.

January 20, 2000






Maryland Science Center

601 Light St.

Baltimore

Hours: Mondays to Fridays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Admission through Sunday, April 30, while "Fantasia" is showing in the IMAX Theater: $15 for adults, $13 for ages 60 and older, $12 for ages 4 to 12, free for those younger than 4 for IMAX Theater and exhibits; $12 for adults, $11 for ages 60 and older, $10 for ages 4 to 12, free for those younger than 4 for IMAX Theater only.

Admission after April 30: $10.50 for adults, $9 for ages 60 and older, $7.50 for ages 4 to 12, free for those younger than 4. Prices include admission to the IMAX Theater, Davis Planetarium and all exhibits.

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Admission for NightMAX, a double feature on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., 8:30 p.m. during summer hours: $7.

Admission for Maryland school groups (exhibits only): free for students and teachers from September to April; $3.50 for students, free for teachers from April to June.

Admission for schools outside Maryland (exhibits only): $3.50 for students, free for teachers from September to June.

Information: 1-410-685-5225 or use the telecommunications device for the deaf at 1-410-962-0223.


By Meg H. Partington / Staff Writer

Visions of creative learning experiences for people of all ages constantly float through Beverly Baccala's mind.

cont. from lifestyle

She envisions a "splash lab" with rubber floors and walls in which people can learn about water. She wants visitors to be able to stand inside a bubble and learn how sports relate to physics.

Bringing touchable exhibits on science, technology and history to Washington County is the goal of Baccala, president of Discovery Station at Hagerstown Inc.

The proposed location for Discovery Station is the former Tusing warehouse at the rear of the parking lot at 58 E. Washington St. The board of directors hopes to open the station by late spring 2001.

The three-story building is owned by the city, which has agreed to charge Discovery Station $1 a year for rent.

After five years, those who operate Discovery Station will have an option to buy the building for $110,000, Baccala says.

There are hopes to include a retail area and an observatory.

The Discovery Station board hopes to renovate the 9,000-square-foot building and add 6,000 square feet, a project that Kurt Cushwa, vice president of the Discovery board, has estimated will cost a little less than $1 million.

"I don't want us ever to compete with anyone," Baccala says, including area businesses and interactive museums like Maryland Science Center in Baltimore and Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum in Winchester, Va.

In fact, those involved in bringing Discovery Station to Hagerstown are working with an exhibits team from the science center in Baltimore. There has been talk of borrowing parts of the displays there.

The goals are high, but so is the enthusiasm.

Board members are applying for state, federal and corporate grants and also are seeking funding from the community. Many area businesses and organizations have pledged financial support and offered to lend their services, but more support is needed to make the project come to fruition.

"We're looking for people who can hammer," says Baccala, who also is coordinator of One-Stop Employment Partnership in Frederick, Md.

Once the concepts for the exhibits are solidified, Baccala plans to seek support from businesses whose focuses fit the various displays. She is hoping people will volunteer to help build exhibits, staff the station's retail area, do clerical work, greet visitors and give lectures.

A positive example

A similar concept has been successful in Winchester, Va.

In April 1996, after about three years of planning by a trio of women, Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum opened its doors at 54 S. Loudoun Street in Winchester.

"You really do rely on people to get excited," says Jan Kirby, director of education and programming at Discovery Museum.

The museum, on the Old Town Mall, occupies 4,500 square feet, but an addition of 1,000 square feet is planned. Funding comes from local businesses and the state of Virginia, Kirby says.

"People were eager to donate time," she says, and local organizations helped to build some of the exhibits.

Winchester Medical Center sponsored the creation of a mock emergency room, complete with examining table, hospital gowns, crutches, wheelchairs, stethoscopes and surgical masks.

"The older children absolutely love this. It's 'ER' here," Kirby says, adding that many a parent has been turned into a child's patient at the museum.

Out in the community

Volunteers for Hagerstown's Discovery Station have shared hands-on exhibits with the community.

For instance, since 1996, they have set up a display at Western Maryland Blues Fest. And Discovery Station, along with Shawnee Girl Scout Council and Hagerstown Community College, is part of a national program called Girls at the Center, through which girls are encouraged to explore math and science.

Baccala hopes that once Discovery Station opens, its community outreach will continue. She also is enthused about the possibility of having teachers and those studying to become educators use the station as a learning lab.

For information about Discovery Station, call Baccala at 1-304-754-3248 or Cushwa at 301-739-7995. Send contributions to Discovery Station at Hagerstown Inc., P.O. Box 2474, Hagerstown, Md. 21741-2474.

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