In a region where innovation thrives amidst the backdrop of unique industries like nuclear engineering, education, and agriculture, members of the community have begun an exciting journey to create a haven for our youngest residents — a STEAM-focused children's museum. This visionary project, a grassroots effort born from a post on a Facebook moms group, seeks to establish a sustainable community hub dedicated to inclusive play, family togetherness, and lifelong learning.
The Tri-Cities' needs a children's museum
The Tri-Cities is renowned for its distinct blend of technological proficiency and agricultural excellence. As a community where these diverse industries converge, we understand the importance of providing our children with a multifaceted educational experience that embraces innovation, creativity, and inclusivity. Here's why our region yearns for a children's museum highlighting science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM):
- Fostering inclusive play:
A children's museum in the Tri-Cities will be a beacon of inclusivity. It will welcome children of all backgrounds and abilities, providing them with an environment where they can explore, learn, and play together. Inclusivity is not just a goal; it's a core value that will help bridge divides and nurture empathy among our young citizens.
- Strengthening community bonds:
Tri-Cities is a vibrant and diverse community. However, we believe that fostering stronger connections among our residents, especially families, is essential. A children's museum will be a gathering place where parents, caregivers, and children can come together to share quality time and create lasting memories. It will serve as a hub for community events, celebrations, and educational programs, reinforcing our sense of togetherness.
- Economic appeal and early childhood education:
As we look to the future, the Tri-Cities aims to attract young families to our region. A children's museum will be a significant draw for these families, showcasing our commitment to early childhood education and providing a valuable resource for their children's development.
Moreover, our museum will play a pivotal role in supporting our local economy. It has the potential to create jobs, boost tourism, and stimulate collaboration between our diverse industries and educational institutions. By investing in the next generation of innovators and problem-solvers, we can ensure the long-term prosperity of our community.
A grassroots initiative
The journey to establish the Mid-Columbia Children’s Museum (MCCM) began as a simple Facebook group conversation. One local mom, Beth Crocker — driven by the desire to create a space where children could learn, grow, and have fun — reached out to the community to gauge interest. What transpired was nothing short of remarkable. Over 200 individuals from all walks of life immediately expressed their interest in the idea with unwavering support. In February of 2023, a group of about 50 Tri-Cities residents met at the Richland Community Center to discuss a rough plan of action and establish a working taskforce. From this post and a community meeting that followed, a passionate and dedicated taskforce consisting of about 15 parents and grandparents was established. Almost serendipitously, individuals with a wide range of talents and experience banded together to establish the Mid-Columbia Children’s Museum as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, design a logo, build a website, draft educational programming, and procure mobile exhibits as part of phase one on the pathway to a sustainable children’s museum.
A summer of confirmation
The overwhelming response from our residents underscores the urgent need for a children's museum in our area, and that fact is further emphasized by how much has been accomplished by MCCM’s efforts in only seven months. The team began by establishing the brand's foundation and quickly pivoted to community outreach by engaging followers on social media and planning events with DIY’d or inexpensive yet engaging exhibits and activities.
Throughout the summer, the Mid-Columbia Children’s Museum Taskforce attended upwards of three community events each month, including the Pasco Farmers Market, Richland’s Pop-Up Play Days, Kennewick National Night Out, and Richland Library’s STEAMKids Day. At these events, children of the community were provided with exhibits and experiences that showcased the blend of learning and play quintessential to a children’s museum with a focus on STEAM standards.
Families flocked to these events, hungry for interactive learning experiences that stimulate their children's curiosity and creativity. Each event the Mid-Columbia Children's Museum participated in brought in 200–400 children, and over the course of the summer of 2023, they were estimated to have reached over 3,000 families.The resounding success of these gatherings further underscores the demand and enthusiasm for a dedicated children's museum in Tri-Cities.
As summer has drawn to a close and children return to school, MCCM has begun phase two of their efforts, which includes fundraising to engage with museum planning firm Gyroscope, Inc. to obtain a market feasibility study. This study will help determine the best location for the children’s museum, assess what would be sustainable for our region, develop budget projections, and work with public and private stakeholders to build a museum that reflects the Tri-Cities industries and community.
Join us on this journey!
The museum's first fundraiser event, a Creature Crawl 1k and Monster Mash 5k, will take place on Saturday, October 28, 2023 from 9am–1pm. The Creature Crawl 1k for kids 12 and under will offer a loop around Howard Amon Park, complete with trick-or-treating, costume contests, and a variety of activities and museum exhibits. Bring your child's costume to life with free face painting sponsored by Greg Brown Orthodontics and free coffee or cider and mini donuts sponsored by Professional Realty Services for all registered participants of either race.
Visit runsignup.com/Race/WA/Richland/MCCM to register today!
By supporting the establishment of Mid-Columbia Children’s Museum, you're not just investing in a building; you're investing in the future of our children and the prosperity of our community. Together, we can make Tri-Cities an even better place to live, work, and play.
For additional information about the Mid-Columbia Children’s Museum initiative, please contact email@example.com.
All photos are courtesy of the MCCM taskforce with explicit permission to publish.
The Mid-Columbia Children’s Museum is an emerging museum in the Tri-Cities region. Find us on Facebook to stay up to date with our progress! fb.com/mccmuseum