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Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose

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Causes: Arts & Culture, Children's Museums, Environment, Environmental Education

Mission: The purpose of Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose is to serve the needs of children, families and schools as a center for learning and discovery. For children, it is first and foremost a place to call their own, offering interactive exhibits and programs in a warm and inviting setting. Its educational mission encompasses the themes of Connections, Community, and Creativity. In its unique environment, children actively make connections among ideas, people and cultures. The Museum's programs also encourage children to define their role in and contribution to both local and global communities. Finally, as a center for creative play and expression, Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose provides opportunities for all of us to discover the world through the eyes of our children.

Target demographics: We serve children ages 0 to 10, as well as parents, teachers, and youth.

Geographic areas served: San Francisco, Silicon Valley, San Jose

Programs: Exhibits - children's discovery museum of san jose has served over 7. 4 million adults and children since opening its doors in the spring of 1990. In the 2013-2014 fiscal year, the museum provided engaging learning opportunities to over 280,000 families and 31,000 group visitors. The museum offers 28,000 square feet of exhibition space in 13 dedicated galleries, each housing 8- 10 interactive exhibits which respond to the distinctive need for children to learn through concrete interactions. Therefore, the museum's exhibits encourage touching, exploring, manipulating and experimenting and cut across the disciplines of art, science and the humanities. The museum's theme is connections; the context is community - the myriad relationships within and between the man- made and natural worlds and the way those relationships are expressed here in its own backyard. Whether children are role-playing a firefighter on the authentic fire engine in the streets of san jose exhibit, using colorful plastic balls to study how water rushes and flows in waterways, or experimenting with surface tension by playing with bubbles in bubbalogna, they are actively engaged in learning, inspired by their own curiosity to investigate how things work and understand more about the world we live in. Last year, the museum hired internationally recognized artist, christopher janney of phenomen arts, inc. , to install "soundstairs: san jose," an interactive sound and light art installation on the main stairway. As visitors walk up and down the stairs, their steps create a unique and continuously changing symphony of sounds. Greeting them at the top of the stairway is the new tracey heymann wing, a permanent art gallery showcasing children's art. While the majority of exhibits focus on children to age 10 and their parents and caregivers, the wonder cabinet serves the needs of the museum's youngest visitors as an early learning environment with exhibits designed to support the cognitive, emotional and social development of infants, toddlers and preschoolers. The research room, located under the main stairway, supports the museum's long-standing uc santa cruz research partners conducting interviews and one-on-one interactions with the museum's audience that help inform exhibit design and educational program development on science topics. The space also houses the research of a stanford university developmental psychologist and his students, who are seeking to increase understanding of language development in very young children. In september, 2013, the museum was one of 5 institutions selected by the asian cultural exhibit initiative, funded by the freeman foundation, to create an exhibit which will tour children's museums over the next 3 years. Building on the museum's relationship with the local vietnamese community, the new exhibit will focus on the tet celebration.

educational programs - the museum provides on-site programs which complement its exhibits and support visitor interactions and learning opportunities. In 2013-2014, the museum provided programs for over 42,000 participants. The on-site art studio in the wonder cabinet and art loft are examples of the museum's commitment to visual arts education experiences, while the lee and diane brandenburg theatre and cadence amphitheatre offer performing experiences. The museum employs a three-pronged approach to the arts: engagement with and viewing the work of professional artists; exploring the other children's art; and individually creating their own works of art in various formats. Throughout the year, the museum invites the community to participate in various cultural festivals, which represent our regions composition. These events include weekend events, such as diwali, dia de los tres reyes magos, lunar new year, children of the dragon, single day or evening events, such as dia de los muertos, the lantern festival and lunada familiar. The kids' garden features programming that supports science learning and provides hands-on nature experiences. Beyond children's discovery museum of san jose's exhibit galleries, the educational programs bring resources and innovative learning techniques to schools; encourage young adults to become active citizens by impacting their environment and serving their community; stimulate curiosity and promote an inquiry-based learning environment; and reach the children and youth in the community most in need of extra support, with experiences designed to ensure that children know their own worth, respect their own knowledge, and achieve their greatest potential. Highly successful programs, such as biosite (students investigating their environment), engage high school students in mentoring elementary school students to value their local river by gathering important water quality information and sharing the information with the scientific research community; summer of service provides middle school youth volunteer opportunities at local food banks and shelters, senior centers, parks and preschools. The museum currently has funding from imls (institute of museum and libraries services) for three initiatives. The first, known as family foodways will develop an institutional approach that embraces authentic experiences with food, fully engaging its audience in exploration of the cultural, social and economic practices of food production and consumption in silicon valley, a region rich in agricultural history, new excitement for urban farming, and burgeoning ethnic cuisine. Family foodways will engage the museum audience in identifying and creating strategies to address community's priority to reduce obesity through early intervention by advancing food literacy and honoring our valley's agrarian past. This initiative will also promote healthy eating initiatives in the rainbow pizza market, kids' cafe and the kids' garden with support from kaiser permanente and first 5 santa clara county. Under the 21st century museum professionals program, the second initiative will develop and field test the cultural competence learning institute in collaboration with the association of science and technology center's equity and diversity committee, well-respected researcher/evaluator cecilia garibay and museum colleagues from sciport: louisiana science center and the long island children's museum. The most recent award from imls is entitled breaking ground and strives to identify and support in-depth strategies to attract and serve regions diverse cultures.

retail services - located at the entrance to the museum, the retail store offers educationally-based products for sale, which support and extend the activities encountered through interaction with museum exhibits and programs. Custom products and licensed exhibit- and program-related items are also featured.

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