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Discover what's inside: Longview WOW reveals conceptual designs of hands-on learning center

By Richard Yeakley
Dec. 10, 2013 at 11 p.m.


Longview's forthcoming hands-on discovery center released conceptual designs for the inside of its 11,000-square-foot children's area.

Michelle Norris, chairwoman of facilities for Longview World of Wonders, said finishing the conceptual designs, 49 of which were released online at www.longviewwow.org, was the first of five steps toward a fully functioning discovery center.

"This is a fairly good sense of the end project. There is the one section that is more costly then others, and if funding isn't available we may open in stages, but we don't really want to change anything too much," Norris said.

Rhonda Bullard, who is conducting the campaign to raise money for the discovery center said the nonprofit organization has raised just less than $1 million of the $2.4 million cost for construction.

Norris said the center is expected to open by late 2014.

<strong>The exhibit designs include:</strong>

<strong>Little Build It</strong> - Toddlers and pre-schoolers will be able to play and imagine with blocks in an enclosed area visible through glass walls. Parents will be able to join their children or sit immediately outside the enclosure in the atrium.

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<strong>Build It</strong> - The visual image for this activity area is Legos everywhere. Architectural elements in this open-play area will be based on the Lego structure, and children will be able to build with LEGO bricks on just about every surface. Children also will be able to design and race Lego cars on a track that is elevated at one end. Windows between two sections designed for different ages in the Build It area will allow younger children the opportunity to watch and learn from older children at play.

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<strong>Invention Garage</strong> - Readily available materials will be stocked in this largely open area for children to engage in project-based explorations and experiments. This exhibit lends itself to the dynamic creativity of the children who visit the garage. LongviewWOW's Youth Advisory Council is helping develop projects and related instructions for this area, in which visitors will be able to build and test projects that illustrate various scientific principles, or design and create unique inventions.

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<strong>Energy City</strong> - This area will provide hands-on, fun exploration of various aspects of the energy industry, from a power plant to solar power, wind power, a coal mine and oil and gas exploration and use. The approximate 1,000 square foot Aqua Ring will feature a two-story industrial structure that takes the typical water-table to a new level.

<strong>Hands-On Sensory House</strong> - This exhibit is set to include an ultra-sleek house, where children will be able to mimic all aspects of running a home. They will even be able to incorporate the nearby garden and farmer's market into their play, as well as other aspects of Energy City. The exhibit module will also encompass a sensory experience for our special needs community members.

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<strong>Garden and Farmers Market</strong> - Children will be able to try their hand at farming vegetables or picking peaches. Then, they can sell their wares at the farmers market, or shop for fresh produce and other goods. In addition, the Five and Dime Store will allow them to stock up on all their needs.

<strong>The Park</strong> - The park area will feature various types of dramatic play, from dress up to puppets, with backdrops available for children to produce their own creations. The Park also will provide a space for traveling exhibits, cart exhibits and special events.

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