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  • Writer's pictureAmarinda Keys

Prototying Sessions with Educare

We are so excited to share the below press release, outlining our most recent partnership with Educare Central Maine! This fantastic collaboration allowed the museum to test out some of the pieces that will be incorporated into the new museum, as well as program ideas and exhibit concepts that are in the works.

A big thank you to all of the families who participated!


Educare Central Maine’s Lab School & Learning Hub and Children’s Discovery Museum Successfully Complete Prototyping Sessions

Educare Central Maine’s Lab School & Learning Hub and Children’s Discovery Museum are thrilled to announce the successful completion of 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 Children’s Discovery Museum has been serving families in Central Maine for three decades, and in recent years, it has been working tirelessly to expand its services and create a brand-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.

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 five, 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.

"It was so wonderful welcoming families into our space and watching them interact with our future exhibit pieces. We’ve been planning these programs and pieces for so long, and it really felt so special seeing them come to life as the children played,” said Children’s Discovery Museum Executive Director, Amarinda Keys, “This collaboration has not only strengthened our connection with the community but also empowered families to actively participate in creating a museum that truly reflects their needs and interests. We look forward to welcoming these families to the Children's Discovery Museum and continuing our partnership with Educare."

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.

“Our Educare families were beyond excited to be given the opportunity to be actively involved in the exhibit prototyping process and we know there is no better feedback than that which comes directly from parents and caregivers,” said Erica Palmer, Manager of Educare's Lab School and Learning Hub, “We are all eagerly awaiting the interactive, quality experiences we know the Children's Discovery Museum will bring to our community and are thankful to be a part of this partnership.”

Looking ahead, 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. Educare families have representation on the Museum Board of Directors.

Both Educare Central Maine’s Lab School & Learning Hub and Children’s Discovery Museum express their gratitude to all the families who participated in the prototyping sessions. Their valuable input and feedback have played a crucial role in shaping the final design and fabrication of the museum exhibits.

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