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
  • Cancer patient’s drug, probation cases postponed ‘until further notice’

    A Joplin woman who is battling a rare type of cancer has gotten a temporary reprieve in her drug and probation cases so she can focus on her health issues, according to her attorney. Velma Crain, who appeared Monday in Jasper County Circuit Court, was facing the possible revocation of her probation after having been arrested last year on suspicion of possession of a controlled substance.

    April 15, 2014

  • Suspect in assault on officer apprehended in Texas

    The U.S. Marshals Service caught up with a suspect in Texas who was wanted in an assault on a Seneca police officer and alleged probation violations in Arkansas. Cody A. Rantz, 25, is being held in Collin County north of Dallas on warrants issued in Missouri and Arkansas. Federal marshals reportedly located the fugitive at a strip mall in Texas on Monday afternoon and took him into custody.

    April 15, 2014

  • Ex-Jasper teacher’s aide accused of sexual contact with student

    A former teacher’s aide at Jasper High School has been charged with having sexual relations with a 16-year-old student and is being investigated for possible sexual contact with other boys at the school. Janice L. Rusk, 43, was arrested Tuesday and charged with second-degree statutory rape and second-degree statutory sodomy following investigations by school officials and law enforcement.

    April 15, 2014

  • Mike Pound 2010.jpg Mike Pound: Open a beer, chat with Tom, see his exhibit

    I like to think that I would have gotten along with Thomas Hart Benton. Sure, I’ve read that sometimes Tom (I think I can call him Tom) could be grouchy, and if someone said something stupid or acted like a jerk, he didn’t mind telling that person exactly what he thought of him. But hey, I grew up with people like that.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Neosho Ethics Board calls witnesses in complaint against council members

    City Manager Troy Royer on Monday night described what he said was an assault by City Councilman Steve Hart, and other incidents involving Hart and Councilman David Ruth. His statements were made to the Neosho Ethics Board, which is investigating a complaint filed against Hart and Ruth. Board members had described Royer as their key witness.

    April 15, 2014

  • r041514recycledfashion.jpg Joplin High School students to model ‘recycled’ dresses at fashion show

    Audrey Kaman will walk the runway later this week wearing a dress she designed herself — made out of 250 doilies. “I’d say it’s a fun dress,” the Joplin High School sophomore said. “It’s not really elegant because it’s short, but it’s cute.”

    April 15, 2014 4 Photos

  • Shooter in Joplin murder sentenced to life in prison

    The teen convicted of being the triggerman in the murder of Jacob Wages was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison with the possibility of parole. At a hearing in Jasper County Circuit Court in Joplin, Circuit Judge Gayle Crane followed a jury’s recommendations in assessing Daniel D. Hartman, 18, two life sentences on convictions for second-degree murder and armed criminal action, and 15 years on a conviction for burglary.

    April 15, 2014

  • Interchange construction work near Carterville to create safer off-ramp

    As the Missouri Department of Transportation begins rebuilding eastbound ramps at the Missouri Highway 171 and Route HH interchange near Carterville this week, drivers can expect ramp and occasional lane closures. The $1.5 million project, funded by the state, will increase the distance between ramps for drivers traveling northbound on Highway 249 and exiting eastbound to Highway 171.

    April 15, 2014

  • Commission awards contract for bridge replacement project

    The Jasper County Commission on Tuesday approved a contract for construction of a new bridge on County Road 48.

    April 15, 2014

  • moon 2 Julie Mi…ell Kruege.jpg SLIDESHOW: Lunar Eclipse turns moon red Globe readers sent in their photos of the lunar eclipse which could be seen early Tuesday morning in the Joplin area.

    April 15, 2014

Must Read
Sports
Photos


Facebook
Poll

In an effort to curb prostitution, St. Louis police are targeting, and perhaps humiliating, the "johns" who use the services. Postcards mailed to the homes of those charged with trying to pick up prostitutes will offer a reminder about spreading sexually transmitted diseases, along with listing the court date. Do you think this is a good approach?

A. Yes.
N. No.
     View Results
Opinion
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter