A group of children playfully broke through a foam-block wall Tuesday at the Warren County Public Library’s State Street branch, celebrating a new educational play space from the Kentucky Science Center.
Equipped with a large Lite-Brite game, a toy cash register and other fun and games, the new space was made possible by a $210,000 donation from PNC.
That donation benefits families in McLean, Trimble, Warren, Johnson, Lincoln, Bath, Floyd and Henry counties and funds the next two years of the Kentucky Science Center’s Science in Play2Go program.
For Jo Haas, the Kentucky Science Center’s chief executive officer, it’s an opportunity for families to learn together and “really see play and learning as interconnected.”
Bowling Green’s Science in Play2Go space lets children build roller-coaster tracks and shop for shapes through a game that “really takes shopping down to its math bones,” Haas said.
“These experiences are designed to not be particularly prescribed but to invite open-ended play,” Haas told the Daily News.
The traveling exhibit visits libraries throughout Kentucky for three months at a time at no cost to libraries or their visitors. It’s part of a larger effort to boost kindergarten readiness in Kentucky.
Program partners include Genentech, the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
During the program’s first two years, it’s drawn 100,000 visitors at 10 libraries across the state, a news release said. During that time, the Kentucky Science Center said new library card enrollments increased by 36 percent and circulation of children’s books increased by more than 45 percent.
“Library staff are reporting increased book circulation, an increase in the number of library memberships and participation in library programs,” Haas said.
The program aligns with the goal of PNC’s Grow Up Great initiative, which is a $350 million project of the PNC Foundation aimed at early childhood education, a news release said.
Charles Denny, regional president for PNC, said his organization has been committed to investing in early childhood education for 15 years.
“To do this in Bowling Green is a great privilege for us and a great opportunity,” he said, also stressing the importance of education. “If you look at the success of any civilization, any state, (or) country, it’s all about education.”
Science in Play2Go will be in the Warren County Public Library until Sept. 1, after which it will move to the Johnson County Public Library.
– A schedule of stops is available online at kysciencecenter.org/science- travels-to-you/science-in- play2go.
– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @BGDN_edbeat or visit bg dailynews.com.