Laura Gibson works with her son Henry Gibson on shoe-making at the Children’s Discovery Museum. Brynley Davidson at right. Submitted photo

WATERVILLE — Educare Central Maine’s Lab School & Learning Hub and Children’s Discovery Museum have completed their series of collaborative prototyping sessions.

The joint initiative aimed to maximize learning opportunities for local children and empower families by connecting them with innovative museum exhibits. The prototyping sessions were funded by the Bill and Joan Alfond Foundation, the Grant family and Donna Sukeforth and family.

The museum has been serving families in Central Maine for three decades, and in recent years has been working to expand its services and create a new exhibit hall. Through this pioneering program, Educare families were invited to interact with prototypes of museum exhibits and provide feedback to shape the permanent exhibits and the development of the new museum hall, according to a news release from Amarinda Keys, museum executive director.

Educare Central Maine is a comprehensive early learning school in Waterville, part of the nationwide Educare Learning Network. It offers child care and preschool for children from birth to age 5, focusing on families facing early learning barriers. The Educare Lab School & Learning Hub is a model demonstration site created to support entry into and professional growth within the Early Childhood workforce, which worked with the museum to identify and coordinate families and staff to attend the prototyping session.

The Educare Lab School & Learning Hub staff actively participated in the prototyping sessions by attending and observing parents and children as they interacted with the new exhibits. The feedback collected during these sessions will help the Children’s Discovery Museum team enhance the exhibits and ensure their age-appropriateness for the desired audience.

During the prototyping sessions, families engaged with exhibit pieces from each of the four museum zones: the shoemaking program in the mill, fishing in the river, creating forts in the Rural Zone, and preparing food in the farmers market in the city. These exhibit pieces and programs will be incorporated into the museum’s final exhibit floor.

The partnership between Educare and the Museum aims to provide free and/or discounted memberships to Educare families, special Educare-only events, and continued opportunities for the museum to bring their traveling exhibits that encourage playful learning to the Educare site.


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