307 Discovery Center Wants Kids to Ask Why
Rick Miller has no shortage of things to do.
As a father, DJ, photographer, and purveyor of inflatable rentals, his days are full. That didn’t stop him, however, from dreaming up another way to contribute to the community and have a little fun along the way. Miller’s new project is the 307 Discovery Center, a children’s museum where families and children can develop hands-on experience with the world.
Miller used to run Great Foundations Preschool and Daycare.
“I loved working with kids but just didn’t love some of the other things that come with child care,” he said.
Miller said he missed working with children and, as a family man, saw a need in Sheridan.
“We’ve got three breweries and a bunch of different bars, but where do you go with your family?” he asked himself.
Miller has been piecing together the answer for the last year and formed a nonprofit last May.
“This has been on my mind for a while,” he said.
Ever since, he has been networking and learning. He’s received advice from existing children’s museums, such as Wise Wonders in Billings and the Adventurarium in Gillette.
“It’s actually a little overwhelming,” he admitted, referring to the wide variety of options he has encountered in his research.
Nevertheless, Miller is confident that the time has come to reveal his goals to the community and start fundraising. He sold his childcare business, but retained the building located on Broadway Street. Eventually, Miller might consider expanding or relocating but, for now, he said having an existing building that is already child-centered gives him a leg up.
Miller’s goal is to make 307 Discovery Center a constantly evolving smorgasbord of science, math, technology, music, art, and more.
In a donor letter, he wrote, “Often, we forget to question that answer or simply understand what every kid wants to know; ‘Why?’ So much of how we view the world comes from our parents and adults, that it becomes so easy for us to follow the same path and accept what we are told without truly experiencing it for ourselves.”
By providing an environment with exhibits, tools, and guidance, Miller hopes to help local youth become more unique and independent with their thoughts and views. He said the museum will be fun, educational, and neutral. Sometimes kids aren’t as excited to attend after school activities as they would be to go to a more unique venue, he explained. Also, he added, homeschooled kids would be able to further enrich their education at 307 Discovery Center.
Miller said he enjoys the thought that the organization will have freedom to try different things.
“Kids need that,” he said. “If we do an experiment and it gets messy, that’s ok with me.”
Miller hosted an information session at Luminous Brewhouse on Tuesday to answer questions and chat about his plans. Although only about 10 people showed up, he said they were all very excited.
On May 4, 307 Discovery Center will hold its first major fundraiser, the Creative STEM Exhibit Competition. Individuals or teams of up to 10 will compete for a popular vote on the best self-made exhibit. The projects can cover any topic, as long as they are intended to be used by children.
Miller says if someone is skilled but doesn’t have any ideas for an exhibit, he has books with over 200 instructions for help with brainstorming.
All teams will be given the chance to donate their exhibit to 307 Discovery Center to use in their non-profit facility, or to retain it for other purposes. The winning team will be awarded a grand prize worth over $500 with certificates to Luminous Brewhouse, Sheridan Events, and more to host a celebration party. All teams or sponsors that donate an exhibit will receive recognition with a dedication on or near their exhibit.
Of course, the museum is happy to accept donations at any time. Miller said he has designed a “Top 40” campaign wherein the first 40 individuals or organizations to donate $1,000 or more will receive a lifetime sponsorship.
You can make a donation online or call (307) 763-7320 to make other arrangements. If you are unable to donate, Miller said there are other ways to show your support, such as volunteering your time or skills.
To keep up with 307 Discovery Center, check out their Facebook page.