The Science and Discovery Center of Northwest Florida is a children's museum situated in Panama City. The Center strives to inspire and educate both children and adults alike through interactive, hands-on programs and exhibits that promote history, technology, and science. These exhibits include interactive natural history and science displays, live reptiles, a nature trail, and play areas for younger children.
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The idea of a children's museum in the area of Panama City was first thought of by the Junior Women's Club and the Women's Club of Panama City in 1967. Over the years, many volunteers and other organizations joined in the effort to transform the museum into what the facility is today. In 1969, the museum's first exhibit opened to the public in a farmer's market building that was also shared by a kindergarten class. The site of the present Center was leased in 1972 from the City of Panama City. In 1981, the current building that houses the Center was built and its first exhibits staged.
Eleanor Lewis got the inspiration for a children's museum in Bay County in the 1960's from the Junior Museum in Tallahassee, Florida. She thought that children should have a place to learn and have fun adventures in Bay County, just like in Tallahassee. Lewis then shared her idea with Junior Women's Club and Women's Club of Panama City, and they set off to turn the vision of such a museum in Panama City into a reality.
In the early days of the children's museum, every exhibit was put together by hard-working volunteers. One of these volunteers, Curtis Jackson, recalled how they built an exhibit that featured an early Native American village. According to Jackson, volunteers ventured out into nearby wooded areas to get materials for the exhibit. They retrieved wood and Saw Palmetto from the woods, which was brought back to the museum to build all of the tools and the teepees, just like the Native Americans did long ago, by using resources they found in nature.
After fifty years of hard works by civic organizations and dedicated volunteers, the Science and Discovery Center of Northwest Florida has grown into what it is today, a place where children and even adults can have fun while learning about many areas of science and natural history. A new Classroom Building and Visitor Center was added to the Center in June of 2010 with the help of a very generous community. In April of 2011, the once small children's museum changed its name to the Science and Discovery Center of Northwest Florida.
The Science and Discovery Center features many exhibits at any given time, as well as a few weekly programs. Animal Encounters is a free program included in the Center's General Admission. Visitors are invited every Thursday afternoon at 3:30pm to come and meet some of the reptiles and other animals that call the Science and Discover Center home. Participants will learn how these critters live and eat in their natural habitat in the wild.
308 Airport Road, Panama City, Florida, Phone: 850-769-6128