Tennessee STEAM Festival

Oct. 12-22

Science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) will come to life at nearly 70 events across the state during the inaugural 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!

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!

Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About

At a recent wedding in New York City, I had a conversation with a reading specialist about the different environments kids are raised in and the vocabulary they hear growing up. Not surprisingly, children who hear a variety of words at home learn to read more easily than those who hear less language. And children who hear positive, affirming comments rather than “No” or “don’t do that” build better language skills, sooner. So what is the take away?

If you want your child to succeed in school, give them something to talk about.

As parents, we want our kids to do well in school and we are bombarded with information about the best way to achieve that goal. Barbara Abromitis, a reading specialist, says, “Building a large oral vocabulary will prepare young children for learning to read and write more than any other school readiness exercise.” Oral language skills provide the crucial underpinning for children’s ability to read.

But, don’t start making gigantic vocabulary cards for your three year old. That isn’t what language development is all about.

Do what comes naturally: chat with your child as you move through your daily activities and take them places where they will see, hear and do new things – new things that will provide fodder for discussion in the car, in the bath tub and at the dinner table.

Describe what you are doing, what you are seeing – ask them questions and listen for the answers – and then ask more questions and listen again. Nothing engages a young child more than your rapt attention to their words.

Discovery Center is a fantastic place to start conversations with kids of all ages.

“Wow! That’s a gigantic turtle. What kind is it? Oh– I see- it’s an Alligator Turtle.
I wonder what they eat…” and on and on.

“That is a beautiful old car! What color is it? Where would you like to ride in a car?”
Your great-grandfather had a car like that.”

“Would you like to pet that rabbit? Now you know what a rabbit feel like. Soft!”

“Look at all the fruit at the farmer’s market. Are there any apples? What is your favorite fruit to eat?”

All of this may seem obvious, but it bears repeating. Statistics show that an average three year old will hear 600 words in one household, and over 2000 in another. Children in financially sound families hear and use much more language at an early age. But, this doesn’t have to be the case. The good news is that talk is cheap!

All parents can give their children something to talk about – the more words kids hear, use and understand, the more they’ll be able to read, comprehend- and use in their writing, in years to come. Building a better reader begins the moment you coo and goo back at your baby. There is nothing better we can do for our children than to communicate with them – so get talking, singing, laughing and listening. Then sit back and enjoy the fun!

Billie Bidelman Little is the Founding Director and Creative Advisor at Discovery Center.
January, 2013