By Mario Tarradell, Public Relations & Marketing Manager
You couldn’t miss the Circus Freaks. There they were, front and center, on the ground floor of the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library Saturday, June 18, 2016. The 4-hour Discovery Faire, the first of three Dallas City of Learning Turn Up! events this year, kicked into full swing when three jugglers began playing toss with juggling clubs.
Oh and let’s not forget the aerialist, who wrapped her lithe body into a long pale pink blanket hanging from a triangular steel perch.
More than 350 children and families attended Discovery Faire, which filled seven floors of the mammoth downtown library. The event included the participation and support of these fine DCoL partners: Arts Vision, Circus Freaks, Dallas Contemporary, Dallas Zoo, Fine Arts Nth, Tammy McNary, Perot Museum of Nature and Science, PolyPrinter, Science Safari, SPCA, We Teach Science and The Writer’s Garret.
Discovery Faire, as well as all Dallas City of Learning activities including digital and local experiences, aims to bring the magic and wonder of experimentation and self-expression to kids during the summer months. It’s a way to close the opportunity gap that disproportionately affects children from under-resourced families and communities.
“Dallas Public Library hosts the Discovery Faire as a way to give students the opportunity for self-directed, experiential learning to help keep their skills sharp over the summer months,” says Melissa Dease, Youth Services Administrator, Dallas Public Library. “Because the library is free for everyone, we are able to give all the kids of Dallas a chance to access educational experiences they may not otherwise have because of the cost, the transportation, or simply because they don’t know about it. We are lucky to have so many partners who recognize this opportunity gap and bring their services to us, both during the Discovery Faire and at our branch libraries throughout the summer.”
Discovery Faire was also a great source for DCoL credentials. Kids that completed any one activity earned an XP. Those intrepid children that completed any five activities, which made the Discovery Faire experience a DCoL Playlist, earned a digital badge
How could you say no to such learning fun? Among the highlights of Discovery Faire were:
- Make a balloon rocket car
- Build Stix Structures
- See predators and prey in action with Science Safari
- Try Blackout Poetry
- Enjoy journal making with The Writer’s Garret
- Make instruments with Fine Arts Nth
- Witness 3D printing at work with PolyPrinter
- Go STEM with We Teach Science
- Make cat toys with the SPCA of Texas
- Make enrichment for animals with the Dallas Zoo
That brings us to the kids. What were they drawn to? Eleven-year-old Kiran Scarth found herself enthralled by making instruments with unconventional materials. Fine Arts Nth helped Kiran expand her imagination.
“The flutes were the most interesting because they taught us to think outside of the box, and I love music, so it was perfect for me,” she says. “I wouldn’t think of using a PVC pipe as a flute. I would have thought of using it for PVC pipe purposes. Using it as a flute was really cool because it works. It’s very different from any normal instrument.”
Speaking of music, not to mention self-expression, 8-year-old Oliver Cleveland felt an immediate kinship with the disc jockey on the library’s first floor. Music took on a whole new meaning for him. “It was pretty cool making the sounds just by moving your hand,” he says.
But Oliver didn’t stop there. He found himself on the third floor where Blackout Poetry and The Writer’s Garret were holding court.
“I really liked the blackout poetry,” he says. “It was cool doing the zine, crossing off words to make the poem, and just writing the poem was fun. I love poetry!”
Dallas City of Learning is a true public-private citywide commitment convened by both the City of Dallas and Dallas ISD and managed by Big Thought. DCoL is supported by a large network of organizations such as museums, libraries, parks, rec centers and neighborhood organizations. Our goal is to spark imaginations while reversing cumulative learning loss.
Big Thought thanks its DCoL donors for their generous support. For a full list of donors, please visit bigthought.org/dallascityoflearning.