The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

February 10, 2013

Andre Bryan Stefanoni: Newly opened children’s place in Parsons perfect antidote for cabin fever

PARSONS, Kan. — After being quarantined for two weeks with children fighting the flu, the entire family was ready for adventure beyond our city limits.

Last weekend’s mild temperatures and sunny skies were the perfect backdrop to take a day trip, but it couldn’t be too exhausting, too long or too expensive. We settled on pointing our truck toward the farm store in Parsons to pick up the kit we’d reserved to build our own chicken coop. (That will be a whole other column.)

A jonesing for Mexican food for lunch found us at a new place: El Pueblito, a downtown restaurant that featured fast service and platefuls of wonderful enchiladas, tacos and chili rellenos. But the real score was a spontaneous decision to peek in next door at Curious Minds Discovery Zone, which opened last fall.

Our “peek” turned into more than two hours of imagination, creation and relaxation — just what we needed to get our groove back.

The project was the brainchild of Dan VanLeeuwen, who on a trip to New Mexico took his girls to a children’s museum and decided that Southeast Kansas needed something similar. Back home, he recruited volunteers and set up a board of directors who made it happen.

Crazy thing is, it turns out that VanLeeuwen and his wife are the current owners of my grandfather Bryan’s old home place at the outskirts of Erie, where I spent many weekends and summers making discoveries of my own.

Curious Minds Discovery Zone has 884 backers, who combined have pledged $72,314 toward a $100,000 goal. Business owners and professionals from throughout Labette and Neosho counties have contributed items to incorporate into displays and play areas.

Chrissy Kutz, the director, was proud to show off how much had been packed into a relatively small space. There’s an almost life-size magnetic dinosaur skeleton that visitors can assemble on the wall just inside the door, a small puppet theater that children can use to act out their own stories, and an “Area 51 Creation Station” that includes baskets of Legos, wooden building blocks, plastic foam gizmos and a space-age-looking marble run.

Creative volunteers turned a narrow closet under a stairway into a space station and solar system. A low table of microscopes and scientific slides is flanked by stools made of tree trunks. Kids of all ages happily role-played in a miniature city that includes a doctor’s office, a grocery store complete with miniature cart and canned goods, a bank, and a dentist’s office.

A small area in the back is stocked with art supplies, while another has fossils on display.

My boys — as well as my husband and I — probably enjoyed the “treehouse” the most because there’s just something deliciously cozy about climbing up to a hidden overlook. Kutz kindly made me feel better about my desire for such antics by telling me that a high school leadership group that had recently visited ended up doing the same thing and having a joyful time.

So the moral of the story is this: Hanging out as a family is good, especially on a Sunday afternoon. Spontaneity is good, especially for those like me who must live most of life on a tight schedule. And play is good, no matter what your age.

Curious Minds is located at 1810 W. Main St. in Parsons. It is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursdays; from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays; and from 1 to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

Admission is $5 per child and $3 per adult, or $15 for a group of five. Birthday parties and field trips may be scheduled for special rates by calling 620-778-2657. The place also can be found at www.curiousmindz.org and on Facebook at CuriousMindsDiscoveryZone.

Follow Andra Stefanoni on Facebook at facebook.com/andrajournalist and on Twitter @AndraStefanoni.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 072814_jd anderson.jpg VIDEO: Noel strongman advances on talent show

    The past week has been busier than normal for Noel resident J.D. Anderson. Members of the production crew for NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” told him they have shot more footage of him than of other contestants for the next episode. “They said I have the busiest schedule of anyone this week,” Anderson told the Globe in a phone interview Friday. “There’s so many fun things you can do with B-roll as a strongman.”

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • AndraBryanStefanoni.jpg Andra Bryan Stefanoni: ‘Annie’ production is a family thing

    There’s a twist to this week’s production of “Annie” at Memorial Auditorium. The show, a beloved classic tale of an orphan girl in search of a family, is full of real-life family members.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072514 Band Box.jpg Jo Ellis: Carthage icon continues to play in local restaurant

    Chicago Coin’s Band-Box, also known as “Strike Up the Band,” has been a Carthage icon since the mid- to late 1950s. Any customer who frequented Red’s Diner, or Ray’s Cafe, and now the Pancake Hut is familiar with the pulsating rhythms and movements of this mechanical device.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • SusanRedden.jpg Susan Redden: Gubernatorial hopefuls make area appearances

    Three potential candidates for Missouri governor in 2016 made stops in the Joplin area this past week.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Anti-landfill group seeks grand jury probe

    As more than 200 people filed into Riverton High School on Sunday to attend an anti-landfill group meeting, many stopped to sign a petition asking the Cherokee County District Court to summon a grand jury to investigate how land was acquired by the city of Galena for a proposed landfill.

    July 27, 2014

  • shoalcreekcleanup.jpg Wildcat Glades center puts on service day at Shoal Creek

    About 20 people on Saturday pulled trash out of Shoal Creek as they paddled in canoes and kayaks from Grand Falls to Zan’s Creekside Campground in Joplin.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hearts & Hammers plans annual home repair event

    Since 2003, volunteers with Hearts & Hammers of Southwest Missouri have made free improvements to more than 170 homes owned by the elderly, physically disabled, and single parent or low-income families.

    July 26, 2014

  • Money clouds farm fight

    For much of the summer, while the campaign surrounding “right to farm” has been focused on its impact on “small, family farmers,” the bulk of the money pouring into the fight has come from big agriculture interests.

    July 26, 2014

  • jameswelbornupdate.jpg Local teen completes half of solo river trip

    James Welborn, a recent Webb City High School graduate, has reached the halfway point of his solo canoe trip down the Mississippi River — just in time to celebrate his 19th birthday with family.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Neosho police warn residents of phone scam

    The Neosho Police Department has received complaints from residents saying someone impersonating a lieutenant from the Newton County Sheriff’s Office warrants division has been calling them.

    July 26, 2014

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

A new provision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture allows qualifying districts with high percentages of students on food assistance to allow all students to eat free breakfasts and lunches. Would you agree with this provision?

Yes
No
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter