Starting this weekend, families will no longer have to drive to Columbia or Myrtle Beach to have fun at an EdVenture museum.
EdVenture will open its first satellite facility in Hartsville on Saturday. It is part of the museum’s plans to provide educational experiences to rural areas in South Carolina that are underserved.
President and CEO Karen Coltrane said the museum was able to expand the educational programming Hartsville community leaders requested with a permanent facility.
“The idea stemmed from conversations around that where people said, ‘Hey, you’re doing such great work here, what else could you do for us?'” she said. “So we said, ‘Well, we can do everything from your after-school programs all the way to a satellite location. They said, ‘Satellite location? We’d like to have that.'”
“The community got behind it quickly and the financial support was there to make it happen,” she said.
Coltrane said the museum’s board of trustees’ goal is to expand educational opportunities to children throughout South Carolina.
“You can certainly raise money and put kids on a bus and bring them to Columbia, which we do all the time,” Coltrane said. “But where you really, really, really get the value out of an informal learning center is when you — especially for younger children — is when you can go frequently because children experience it differently as they develop.”
She said Hartsville is one of several communities in the state who has approached EdVenture for a learning center. The museum is working on establishing another one in St. George, where a fundraising campaign is underway to preserve a historic school that would house the center.
“We do recognize that that is an underserved area and we want to do our best to try to make it better,” Coltrane said. “So this facility literally grew out of EdVentures outreach efforts in that area. All the outreach vision is starting to come together.”
EdVenture works with corporate and individual donors to provide educational experiences for kids. Duke Energy also donated the Power Tower to the Hartsville museum, where kids generate enough kinetic energy to light up the tower.
“For younger kids, that’s really making the point to them that ‘My energy, I generate energy that can be turned into electricity and make something happen,'” Coltrane said.
The museum also has a town square replica of downtown Hartsville, grocery store, bank, hospital, working ambulance, air tube exhibit and a Jules Verne-themed carousel made in France — the only one of its kind in the United States.
“We’re not just opening a facility,” she said. “Everything that we do out in the community, whatever we do, we’re bringing to Hartsville so we come as a full package. We’re excited about the impact that we’re going to have in the surrounding communities.”
EdVenture Hartsville opens June 30. Click here for more information.
EdVenture currently operates two locations – Columbia and Myrtle Beach. The Columbia location has been the largest children’s museum in the Southeast since it opened in 2003. Last year, that facility was visited by more than 200,000 and its after-school programs in area schools served more than 500 Midlands area students. EdVenture merged with the Children’s Museum of South Carolina in Myrtle Beach last year and plans to open a larger facility EdVenture Myrtle Beach in 2019.