STEM careers (Science, Technology, Education and Math) are absolutely essential to the American economy, and especially for the economy of our region. It is estimated that more than 50% of new careers in our area will be STEM related over the course of the next decade. Maybe that's why it's so surprising that Northern Virginia is the largest metropolitan area in the country that doesn't have its own children's museum! But by this time next year, that will finally be in the past. A physical location for the Children's Science Center is becoming a reality. And, it's getting not just one place to call home, but two!
At a media event on Tuesday, the Center's staff and supporters announced their plans to build two sites in Northern Virginia- one in Loudoun County, and the other in Fairfax County. The first location will be called The Lab. The vision for the Lab is to bring STEM activities to families, instead of the families having to come to the museum!
The Lab will be housed by the Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax, a very visible and accessible location for families throughout the area. The finished product will be 5,400 square feet, chock-full of interactive activities and fun projects for kids up to 12 years old. Children will learn about physics, chemistry, biology, and other scientific subjects at the Experiment Bar, but they'll feel like they're playing games and just having fun. In the Tinkering Studio, they might even feel like they're bending the rules, as they play with things they wouldn't be allowed to touch at home!
The Lab is going to be an awesome place for kids to explore, but the Lab is just the beginning. In 2019 (which sounds like forever from now, but it's only 5 years!), the Children's Science Center Museum will open in Dulles, VA at the Kincora development. Once completed, the new building will be almost 10 times the size of the Lab! Two of the featured exhibits include My Universe and My Earth:
The pictures above are from the media event on Tuesday. You can find downloadable images of these renderings here.
The best thing about the Children's Science Center, perhaps, is that it was designed with the idea of being accessible to children of all economic backgrounds. The Lab and the Science Center will both be located on toll-free roads, and they will also be easily accessible by public transit. I'm excited for this STEM resource in the DC Metro area! I think we will all benefit from the young visitors' experiences in the long run.