ROCKINGHAM — As the summer heat rolls around, Discovery Place Kids in Rockingham has an ocean-themed itinerary planned to cool things down.
The June theme is about ocean exploration and children are able to learn about the sevens seas and the creatures that inhabit them.
Museum Director Katie Rohleder said there is something for everyone in the activities they planned for the month.
“It doesn’t matter if they’re 2 or 82,” she said. “We believe from the itty bitty all the way to the up there’s something they’re going to get out of it.”
The monthly activities are planned at least a month in advance, but Rohleder said it’s hard narrowing everything down.
“We have so many ideas and so many fun activities we can do but we can’t do everything,” she said. “But that’s another way to keep things fresh from year to year. We’re probably always going to do something about the ocean in the summertime but it’ll be something different.”
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, kids can participate in Ocean Olympics where they are able to jump like a shark to breach for food or hunt underwater to find food. And on Mondays and Wednesdays they can participate in the Deep Sea Dive activities where they learn about the different ocean zones and the animals that live in the deep.
They also have scheduled a variety of weekend activities and daily programming. A favorite of some of the children include Big Fun where they can sing and dance to songs like “Chicken Dance” and “Bop to the Top.”
Cynthia Morris, a grandmother to six, brings her youngest grandkids to Discovery Place once a week and is thankful for the activities the children’s museum provides.
“We love it,” she said. “It’s educational and they’re safe and all kids have a great time here.”
Kids like 3-year-old Cam Evans. His nanny, Sonya Duncan, has been bringing him here for the past year and a half.
“I like playing in the water and playing with the fireball tube,” he said.
Coordinator Jessica Tullar is most looking forward to seeing the children be able to apply what they have learned from their activities to their everyday life.
“We have a lot of visitors that come in from going to the beach or coming right back from the beach,” she said. “So they (the children) have something that they can bring back or tie into — which is important because you want them to be able to take it back and talk about it again.”
Tullar is also excited about a popular event with the kids: the dogfish shark dissection.
“It’s a good time because we let the staff and volunteers practice beforehand and they get a lot of experience dissecting the shark,” she said. “We’ll have people come in just to see the dissection.”
And with all their activities planned for the upcoming month, both Rohleder and Tullar are thankful for the help they get from their staff, volunteers, and interns. Volunteer Molly Russell, of Rockingham, remembers having to drive out of the way if she wanted to do something fun when she was growing up.
“This didn’t come about until I was in high school and when I saw this I was like, ‘Man, I wish this was here when I was in high school,’” she remembered. “So to have something so close to home that’s so interesting and can keep kids engaged for so long is not only good for their health but for their minds.”
Russell is minoring in education at UNC-Chapel Hill and wants to take her experience at Discovery Place with her when she goes back to school.
“I think when you’re learning about education, it’s one thing to say and another thing to do,” she said. “So getting the hands-on experience and really seeing how rewarding it is for these children is really going to help out.”
Rohleder and Tullar say they have enjoyed working with their staff to program the June events at Discovery Place and, although they are not marine biologists or oceanographers, the programming has taught them a lot along the way.
“We’re not experts on all things oceans,” said Rohleder. “But by doing these programs for the kids we become learners as well.”