Discovery Place KIDS — Rockingham

Where kids “CAN Be Anything.”
By Lindsey Listrom
Discovery Place KIDS — Rockingham

At the Discovery Place KIDS Museum in downtown Rockingham, kids "CAN" do anything. From climbing through an indoor tree house and splashing in fountains, to cranking handles on a gizmotron and poking at slime, the activities at this two-story educational playground get children ages 1–10 (and their adults) giggling and learning at the same time.

The regional museum first opened its doors in February, thanks to broad support from the community and local donors including Pee Dee EMC and North Carolina's electric cooperatives. Since then, visitors from the Sandhills, Piedmont and South Carolina have delighted in watching live puppet shows, oohed over gooey lab experiments and scrambled around interactive, hands-on exhibits within the museum's five I CAN-themed areas, each designed to encourage experimentation, role-playing, innovation and physical activity.

Physics is on display in the "I CAN Wonder Why" area: Paper airplanes whiz by balls that float in midair as if by magic. Really, they are supported by an invisible column of fast-moving air. By dropping a weight, kids launch tennis balls up two stories to the ceiling using only the power of air pressure. Upstairs, visitors hoist themselves upwards in a bucket by pulling ropes through pulleys.

The "I CAN Be Anything" area lets kids don costumes and test out professions, and also honors the racing and agricultural heritage of the Sandhills. You can fix up a race car, read X-rays at a miniature vet's office, "harvest" plastic veggies, use a bright beam of light to candle eggs on the farm, and serve up dishes to customers at the pint-sized Peaches Café.

Discovery Place KIDS chef in training

A chef-in-training cooks up something magical at Peaches Café in I CAN Be Healthy.

Discovery Place KIDS water play

Through joyful water play, visitors experiment with sinking and floating, filling and pouring, flow and current and their ability to harness water power.

Discovery Place KIDS-Rockingham (233 E. Washington St.) is closed on Mondays, so plan your visit for Tuesday–Saturday 9 a.m.–5 p.m., Sunday noon–5 p.m. Admission is $8 per person and children under age 1 are free. Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times. Discounts are available for groups of 15 or more, and space is available for birthday parties or camps. For more information: (910) 997-5266 or rockingham.discoveryplacekids.org

Discovery Place KIDS explores the concept of I CAN, encouraging children to gain confidence, build muscles, expand their worldview and begin lifelong learning. The museum has five theme areas which include:

I CAN Grow: Specially designed for the Museum's youngest visitors; children from birth through 36 months can toddle, touch, take risks and explore a sensory world.

I CAN Be Anything: Role play in careers that children see daily such as firefighter, veterinarian, cook, actor, mechanic or farmer.

I CAN Wonder Why: Explore, experiment, discover and uncover while building an understanding of the relevance of science to everyday life.

I CAN Imagine: Using water, air, blocks and "garbage," young minds are stretched to innovate, communicate, generate and celebrate.

I CAN Be Healthy: Celebrate a healthy, active lifestyle and get moving in an unstructured play environment that showcases the outdoors.

About the Author

Lindsey Listrom is a communication specialist with the North Carolina Association of Electric Cooperatives.

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