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Discovery Station makes learning fun

September 14, 2007

Think science classes are dull?

One trip to Discovery Station could change all that.

From dinosaurs to space exploration, Discovery Station's informal hands-on programs and exhibits are designed to make learning an up-close and personal experience.

An interactive museum geared toward children and families, Discovery Station opened in 2005 in the former Nicodemus bank building. Since then, the museum has welcomed visitors from 19 different states, and has become a destination for school trips from systems in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, said B. Marie Byers, president of the museum's board.

Once they arrive, they're treated to a variety of galleries that feature both permanent and traveling exhibits. The Betty Clopper Early Childhood Gallery offers learning activities tailored for children ages 2 to 5. In the other galleries, visitors can check out a full-scale cast model of a Triceratops, examine a diesel engine and find out what makes farms work.

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In addition to its permanent exhibits, Discovery Station hosts a number of traveling exhibits throughout the year.

These have included interactive health exhibits and models of spacecraft. One of its most frequent exhibit contributors is the Smithsonian Institution.

Planned future exhibits include "Go Figure," which tells four classic stories - with a math component, Byers said.

Included in the price of admission is the Hagerstown Aviation Museum, also housed in the Nicodemus Building. Visitors can sit in the cockpit of a Cessna 150 with full instrumentation, or watch a documentary detailing the history of aviation in Hagerstown.

Discovery Station sponsors special weekend programs, called "Saturday Plus," which include demonstrations on topics ranging from history to art. Monthly schedules are listed on the museum's Web site at www.discoverystation.org.

A priority for Discovery Station is to find steady revenue sources to pay for the museum's operating costs, Byers said.

The museum is run by volunteers, and displays are paid for with grants and donations. The museum sponsors fundraisers as well.

Discovery Station, at 101 W. Washington St., is open from Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults and $6 for children ages 2 to 17. Children younger than 2 are admitted free; admission is $5 for members of the military and for seniors 55 and older. Memberships and group rates are available.

For more information, call Discovery Station at 301-790-0076 or visit the Web site at www.discoverystation.org.

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