STATE COLLEGE - Nestled into a half-block section of Foster Avenue that abuts Memorial Field, there's a place where learning is enhanced by the fun of doing.
Open not quite a year - officially, only about six months - is a museum for the young that is the culmination of a dream that began in the community nearly a decade ago.
If you walked by it, you might miss it - at first glance, it seems like a more colorful than usual office, perhaps a small store.
Exhibits at Discovery Space are designed to appeal to various age groups. One of the most popular is the environmental science area, where visitors can learn about habitats, and even pretend to be animals in nature.
Sentinel photos by JEFF FISHBEIN
But what's in store is opportunity and education, mixed with a healthy dose of excitement and good times.
It's the Discovery Space of Central Pennsylvania, a children's museum to serve the Centre Region and beyond.
On the first day the museum opened to the public - during last year's Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts - 2,300 people stopped in to see what it was all about, operations manager Misha Moschera said.
"We've had over 10,000 visits since we opened," she said, and the membership roster is approaching 300 individuals and families. "We hope to reach 500 next year."
The relatively small facility is less cramped than it is crammed with activities for the museum's guests. The exhibits change from time to time - lessons on tornadoes may be replaced by one on flood plains; an archeology setup that was there last summer has been converted into a life-size version of the children's game "Operation."
Perhaps the most popular display, Moschera said, is a flight simulator - so much so that there has to be a limit in place as to how long one person can use it.
"Dads love it too. My dad came to visit and I actually had to drag him away," she said.
Another popular exhibit, especially with younger visitors, is a wilderness display in which children can take on the role of animals in nature.
"The puppet theater is popular with little kids," Moschera said. "Pretending to be something they're not seems to be really exciting to kids."
Children's museums are popular, and there are a number of them in Pennsylvania. But while many of those are based on play activities that offer a chance to learn, Discovery Space is a learning center that accomplished its mission