Tennessee STEAM Festival

Oct. 11-20

Science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) will come to life at events across the state during the 3rd annual Tennessee STEAM Festival! The Festival was founded by the Discovery Center and incorporates events at a wide range of museums, schools, community centers and other attractions. Come & enjoy the fun!


Sibshops Logo Red and Black


Join us for the only Sibshop in Middle Tennessee! Sibshops are a celebration of the many lifelong contributions made by brothers and sisters of people with special health and developmental needs. Being a sibling of a person with special needs can be a good thing and sometimes it can be not so good; we will reflect on these feelings, play games, as well as meet other siblings. Dinner will also be provided for the attending children.

Admission $10

For children ages 8-13

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What are Sibshops? 

For the adults who run them and for the agencies that sponsor them, Sibshops are evidence of their loving concern for the family member who will have the longest-lasting relationship with a person who has a disability.  However, for the kids who attend them, Sibshops are pedal-to-the-metal events where they will meet other siblings (usually for the first time), have fun, laugh, talk about the good and not-so-good parts of having a siblings with special needs, play some great games, learn something about the services their brothers and sister receive, and have some more fun.

Are Sibshops a form of therapy?

Sibshops may be “therapeutic” for kids to attend, but they’re not therapy.  The Sibshop model takes a wellness perspective.  They’re a celebration of the many lifelong contributions made by brothers and sisters of people with special health and developmental needs.

Who attends Sibshops?

Siblings, of course!  Most Sibshops are for siblings of kids with developmental concerns.  Increasingly, Sibshops are being offered for brothers and sisters of kids with health concerns (often at children’s hospitals) and we’re beginning to see Sibshops emerge for siblings of kids with mental health concerns.  While Sibshops were developed for siblings in the 8-13 year-old age range, Sibshops (depending on the community) are being offered for siblings as young as six and for teens as well.

Inside or Outside – Don’t Miss The Night Sky


I was given an enormous assignment for this month’s blog, “Write about the night sky,” CEO Tara MacDougall said, “in 500 words or less.”

When I was a little girl, our house on Mt. Hamilton, California was right next door to the James Lick Observatory, where the biggest reflector telescope in the world was being built. My dad, an astronomer, took me over to see the progress the day the 120” faceted mirror was slowly rolled into the domed building and set in place.

He told me the mirror was used to collect light from distant objects. The telescope allowed him to photograph the stars, moon and planets. He was gone many nights, staying warm in an old leather flight jacket, taking slides of the heavens and we little girls had to play quietly on summer mornings because “daddy” had been up all night “observing.” Observing became a way of life for all of us.

06042012Astronomy Night_smallEvery clear evening, our dad called us outside to look at the stars. As a teenager, I tired of his requests to “come see Venus” or whatever the ‘planet du jour’ might be. I found a variety of things worth losing sleep over, and ‘observing’ was never one of them. I was too busy observing people – their language, their habits, their expressions. Typical teen stuff. But as I grew older, the more interested I became in observing the world broadly.

Last week we stared at a big screen in a park playing “The Life of Pi.” Parts of the film were too brutal to watch, so I turned my gaze upwards and focused on the spectacular star show above – the Big Dipper, Orion and Cassiopeia. Despite having an astro-physicist for a father, I was not born with a wealth of knowledge of the stars – and learning about Astronomy has been slow-going. For me, the stars are all about wonder and perspective – a fairly un-scientific response. I have tried to put my sense of wonder to good use by becoming a keener observer of everything around me.

July 2013 BlogI encourage you to take your children outdoors to discover the night sky. If you, like me, need a good resource to help explain the basics, NASA has a fantastic website called, StarChild.

For indoors star gazing and to engage older kids, check out “Celestia”- a free, 3-D real-time space simulator. Download the free software here. Get started by running the beautiful, mind-boggling demo and get your family hooked on astronomy.

Watch the Discovery Center website for details on upcoming astronomy and planetarium programs.

Billie Bidelman Little, Creative Advisor and Founding Director


The Discovery Center STARLab planetarium was given to Discovery Center in honor of Dr. W.P. Bidelman some years ago. Known to his fellow astronomers as a “peculiar star man,” he created an extensive ‘star log’ detailing the chemical composition of stars.

Raising Confident and Comfortable Kids in a Diverse and Changing World

Multiculturalism is defined as the doctrine that several different cultures (rather than one national culture) can coexist peacefully and equitably in a single country. At Discovery Center we promote multiculturalism both as educators and advocates for the children in our community. We believe that all children and their families be accepted and respected, nurtured and educated. We believe that understanding the commonality of all people is good preparation for living in a rapidly changing world where not everyone will look, or act, just like us.

Here you’ll find a diverse mix of families enjoying our programs every day.

In 1988, working with black community leaders, we hosted our first Martin Luther King Day Event. It brought families together and became an annual event. The recently held MLK Day celebration, sponsored by Nissan Foundation, is one of ten free days offered annually.

Plan to attend our Chinese New Year Celebration, February 8 from 4:00 – 7:00 PM. The event provides a great opportunity for families to learn about and embrace diversity. Activities include a chance to explore Asian New Year traditions, enjoy food samples from Chef Want’s, create a Year of the Snake craft, and watch the dragon dance.

Like everything else we do as parents, we speak most clearly through our actions. When young children observe your respectful behavior of others, it teaches them to behave similarly. When we seek out opportunities to learn about and appreciate other cultures, we are showing our willingness and desire to live in a more peaceful, harmonious world. What better gift can we give our children?


About Chinese New Year

The Chinese Zodiac depicts 12 different animals and represents the 12-year cycle of the lunar calendar. It was built on the foundation of astronomy and Chinese astrology over 5,000 years ago.

The Chinese Lunar Calendar is based on the cycles of the moon, but is unlike our calendar. In the Chinese calendar, the beginning of the year falls somewhere between late January and early February. The Chinese adopted the Western calendar in 1911, but the lunar calendar is still used to determine the date of Chinese New year.

People born in the Year of the Snake are said to be smart, generous, charming, analytic and good with money.


Make at Home: Year of the Snake Craft

You will need:

  • an egg carton
  • markers, crayons, or stickers
  • colored scrap paper or a bit of ribbon or cloth
  • tape



You can make your snake as simple or fancy as you want!

  • First cut the egg carton down the middle, making two long pieces.
  • Decide which end of the carton will be the head.
  • Cut a sliver of paper or cloth into a long, skinny strip for a tongue.
  • Tape it underneath the snake’s head.
  • Use tape to connect the two pieces of egg carton to make one long bumpy snake.
  • Decorate your snake with markers, stickers or crayons

Make your snake hiss and wiggle!