Discovery Center of Springfield (DCS), incorporated in 1991 as a 501(c)(3) governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. In 1992, DCS purchased three 1920’s era buildings in downtown Springfield. At that time, downtown was designated a blighted area. These buildings were purchased for three reasons: 1. the location is on two bus routes and accessible to all segments of society, 2. downtown is centrally located within the city and region and, 3. the price was right. It took six years to create awareness, plan the operation, programs, exhibits, renovation and raise the funds in order to open to the public full-time in 1998. Until 1996 the organization was run by the Board of Directors with only part time, occasional staff and hundreds of volunteers assisting with the plans over those years. Initial funds raised allowed us to renovate the first two buildings and combine them into one 25,000 sq. ft. science center and fill it with interactive exhibits, labs, and programs to spark the imagination of people of all ages.
School field trips from throughout the region attended and took advantage of our educational programs and exhibits. Local and regional families signed up for our summer workshops, scout and home-school programs. Tourists from throughout the country attended while passing through Springfield and many traveling exhibits brought new people downtown to the DCS. There was now a reason for families to come downtown on a regular basis.
Over the last 13 years beginning January 1998, DCS has acquired over 200 exhibits and developed approximately 40 programs on various topics of science from geology to chemistry, physics to health and life sciences, culture to nanotechnology and much more, targeting birth to 90+ years of age. In 2000, DCS began working on a second master plan for the building and the incorporation of the third building. This would add an additional 30,000 sq. ft to our facility. In late 2003, after a great deal of research, the DCS board and staff decided to deconstruct the third building and build a new addition under the guidelines of the US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. It would be the first in the region and a perfect fit for our premiere educational facility. The goal: to create an exhibit out of the building itself and of course fill it with wonderful exhibits, labs and classrooms. Once the planning and development was completed, DCS broke ground Fall 2004 with a grand opening in September of 2006. DCS received a LEED Gold designation.
We continue to grow, constantly adding innovative and educational, hands-on exhibits for our visitors and classes for groups of students, 8 weeks of summer workshops for individual children, outreach programming, and distance learning through videoconferencing technology. In addition, we continue to offer our own educational events, host community projects, and offer birthday parties and rentals for various groups.
DCS currently houses 50,000 square feet of interactive exhibit space. Exhibits and programs currently in place interweave a broad array of the hard sciences, technology, math, health, the environment, culture, art and communications. Specific traveling exhibits are brought in to keep DCS environment fresh and exciting for visitors.
Discovery Center of Springfield (DCS) is the only educational resource center of its kind serving the schools and families of this region. Similarly, DCS is the only youth activity center in Southern Missouri that offers and utilizes such a wide range of exhibits, hands-on activities, special events and programs that explore a broad spectrum of educational goals.