Western Colorado Math & Science Center - Grand Junction, CO - an interactive learning center


The Western Colorado Math & Science Center is located at 2660 Unaweep Avenue in Grand Junction, Colorado. The facility is open from ten in the morning until four in the evening Tuesday to Saturday. The facility is open for field trips Monday through Friday. Cost of admission to the facility is $3 a person of $10 for immediate family. Those wishing to take a field trip or bring a large group should contact the center directly for rate and reservation information.

There are over one-hundred and fifty hands on exhibits at the Western Colorado Math and Science Center that deal with concepts of math and science. Outdoor learning is done at the Riverview Science Park. Backpack kits stocked with a pocket microscope, measuring tape, binoculars, timer, pH container, sample containers and a number of items for noting observations make the outdoor learning at the center truly interactive.

John McConnel founded the center which has a small staff and a number of volunteers to aid visitors with bringing the displays for science and math alive. The New Emerson School houses the Western Colorado Math & Science Center which is in the Mesa County School District 51. The center was opened during January of 2000 and has seen more than sixty-eight thousand children on field trips since the doors opened.

When the center began it was one class held at Wingate Elementary School ran by volunteers. Mr. McConnel spent nine years teaching scientific principles with demonstrations that he created. The demonstrations were soon carried to various schools and then the project was known as SITHOK which is an acronym for Science in the Hands of Kids. When he began to reach five thousand students a year with the traveling demonstrations he asked the school district to house them and they granted him use of a building.

The original concept of the center was to but basic scientific elements on tables to allow visitors to interactively investigate them. The exhibits were purchased, constructed in a workshop at McConnell's home and made by volunteers to start the center. There displays are alternated on a regular basis. The five and a half outdoor science park known as Riverview Science Park was opened during 2003. The park allows visitors to walk through a nature trail and make scientific observations to increase their understanding of nature.

Stipends for area college students to work at the center in the summer and during the school year as well as engineering students from CU to work during the summer are provided through a partnership between the facility and the CU-Boulder College of Engineering and Applied Science. These volunteers help with the organization, teaching classes and the exhibit displays.

The Western Colorado Math and Science Center offers a variety of educational opportunities to its visitors. Additional information about services, exhibits and learning opportunities at the center can be obtained by contacting the center directly. Those wishing to schedule group tours of the center should contact the facility to make arrangements and confirm rates.

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