The Children’s Science Center, a nonprofit that has been operating as a museum without walls for several years, has announced it will open two permanent Northern Virginia locations.
The group plans a 5,400-square-foot site at Fair Oaks Mall, in Fairfax, to be followed by a 53,000-square-foot children’s science center in the Kincora development in Loudoun County.
Both will be hands-on, interactive STEM-based facilities (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), the first of their kind in Northern Virginia, says Children’s Science Center Executive Director Nene Spivy.
“We are putting a stake in the ground…actually two!” she said in a statement. “After many years of searching for a suitable home, we have achieved our long-time goal to be located within the Dulles region, where families and high-tech industry partners are plentiful, and where we can offer a regional resource serving multiple jurisdictions in Northern Virginia and beyond.”
With an abundance of STEM jobs and companies in the area, Northern Virginia needs a Children’s Science museum, she added. Virginia is home to seven children’s museums, but none are located in Northern Virginia.
In 2013, the Children’s Science Center’s Museum Without Walls served nearly 15,000 visitors at over 60 venues, including schools, libraries and museums.
The Fair Oaks location, called The Lab, is slated to open in 2015. It will include Exploration Stations, an Experiment Bar, a Tinkering Studio, and Budding Scientist areas for toddler/preschool visitors.
The full-scale museum in Loudoun is slated to open in 2019. Developer Kincora is donating space for the $40 million museum to be located in a mixed-use development at the intersection of Routes 28 and 7 near Dulles.
Museum officials estimate it will serve more than 300,000 visitors each year, delivering STEM exhibits, content, and experiences.
In April, the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors authorized a $250,000 grant for the Children’s Science Center to support the construction and first operating years of the full-scale museum. The museum hopes to partner with local tech companies and governments in the future.
Fairfax County Supervisor Chair Sharon Bulova said she looks forward to the Fair Oaks location’s opening.
“It is a great, central location for the Northern Virginia community,” she said. “Fairfax County will remain a strong partner with the Children’s Science Center; our kids will be able to experience the scientific world in new and exciting ways and I welcome the Children’s Science Center to Northern Virginia.”