The Kaleidoscope Discover Center (KDC) recently celebrated half a decade of promoting ESTEAM concepts in the community, sharing their mission of creating activities grounded in science, technology, the environment, arts and mathematics. At their celebration in June, the leader's of the KDC were also recognized for the hard work, and shared their stories of bringing the KDC to life.
Jyoti Malhotra, the director of strategic planning and government relations for the KDC, introduced everyone to the organization’s founding directors, Laura Antolak, and Martina Hahn-Baur.
Antolak spoke first, sharing the KDC’s vision and mission statements, and how the center has arrived to where it is today.
“Our vision for the Kaleidoscope Discovery Center is for our community to create a discovery center where people are inspired to imagine a universe of endless possibilities,” she said. “We can do that; people can imagine and create wonderful things.”
Their mission, according to Antolak, is to provide opportunities that enhance the understanding and appreciation of what we they call ESTEAM. Antolak pronounced the acronym as “esteem” because of the other connotations the word provides.
“How did we get from our initial outreach program to where we are today? A lot of people said yes,” she said. “When we had an opportunity to share our mission, our vision and our passion for what we’re doing, people said yes. They wanted to participate and help out.”
In addition to their achievements, Martina Hahn-Baur spoke about the human aspect of the Kaleidoscope’s mission, talking about the lives that have been changed since it’s founding, such as the 100 home school students they served in 2017 by offering science labs emphasizing in biology, chemistry and even botany.
In March of this year, The KDC also solidified their relationship with Missouri S&T by signing a Memorandum of Understanding alongside Interim Chancellor Dr. Chris Maples, which allows the university to officially support the center in their efforts to promote ESTEAM interest and activities in the area.
“The most important thing that any community has are it’s people, it really is that simple,” Martina said. “Our greater community has some amazing individuals, and there is nothing you can’t get here…but you have to be willing to ask the question, ‘Can you say yes?”
Martina shared a timeline of the various members of the community who have said yes to the Kaleidoscope throughout the years, from the United Methodist Church hosting the center’s first Simple Machines camp in 2012, to the large grant received from the Meramec Regional Community Foundation in 2017.
The Kaleidoscope Discovery Center is still growing, and as they move on to the second half of their decade of discovery, the community can look forward to more growth. Plans include a mining exhibit, detailing local history in the field, and taking the theme of growth to almost literal new heights. One of the main rooms of the KDC features tree rings painted on the floor by community volunteers. According to the KDC staff, the plan is to construct a tree throughout the building, with roots reaching into the mine exhibit, and solar planel leaves stretching above the roof.
As the center continues to expand, more programs will be added and more hearts will be touched by the volunteers who have made it their mission to serve the community. If you have the time, stop by and see what you can say yes to at The Kaleidoscope Discovery Center.