NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD)– The Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) has honored the Children’s Discovery Museum in Normal for “Outstanding Community Service”.

A Children’s Discovery Museum news release stated that the museum has received the Roy L. Shafer Leading Edge Award, which recognizes innovative ways for the public to engage with science and technology.

The award specifically recognizes the museum’s “Growing STEAM Potential through the Power of Play” program, which gives low-income and at-risk kids aged three to five access to fun learning experiences and STEM resources.

Erin Wiese-Reichert, the creator of the program and early childhood educator at the Museum said, “The program challenges kids to think, solve problems, be curious, build self-confidence skills, and form relationships, all of which are critical to human experience.”

She continued, “The critical thinking skills are naturally embedded into our lessons, and carry over when we can include caregivers and family members. It’s rewarding to witness the positive impact this program has on the students, especially when they excitedly ask if they can return to the classroom again, or when they exclaim, ‘Ms. Erin, I did it!’ after solving an engineering problem.”

The program is expected to serve 1,500 preschool children in McLean County in the 2023-24 school year.