A lot of things have changed since 1996. But until just recently, the River Legacy Living Science Center in Arlington had not.
"We've got to do more," said Becky Nussbaum, Fund Development Coordinator for the center. "So many of our kids today learn with electronics and technology."
The center's mission is to get kids more engaged in science and to teach them about the environment. But with exhibits that were becoming more and more outdated, particularly on the technology front, the team there came to a realization.
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A few years back, they embarked on an ambitious plan to give the center a $2.5 million makeover.
Now their dream has become reality -- and they can't wait for the public to see it when it officially opens on Monday January 29.
"The excitement is overwhelming," said Nussbaum. "People come to the doors and peek in, trying to get a little glimpse of it."
The star of the center is its new Discovery Room, which contains a plethora of high-tech and interactive exhibits -- everything from a virtual creek visitors can step in, to microscopes that can show you what a snail's tongue looks like, to a 30 foot digital wall that uses interactive games to teach users about wildlife.
"It's fast paced, very engaging technology and we're teaching them about nature," said Nussbaum. "So it's another way to have a gateway out into the forest."
The Discovery Room also features aquariums with fish and turtles, a giant frog kids can play on, and all kinds of things to push and pull.
"You find out something, you learn something, then you grasp onto it and it becomes part of you," said Nussbaum. "And that's how we make our next generation of environmentalists."
You do have to pay to get into the Discovery Room. Admission is $3 for kids, $5 for adults, and $4 for seniors.
The center says there will be a handful of events throughout the year where families will be able to get in for free. For more information about the River Legacy Living Science Center, you can visit their website.