FINDLAY, Ohio — The University of Findlay's Mazza Museum is now home to a brand new hands-on learning center.
The Joseph and Judith Conda STEAM Education Center will give kids in northwest Ohio essential lessons in science, engineering, technology, arts and math in an interactive and fun setting.
"It's basically to get kids in here and get into it, collaborate, get their hands dirty and start to figure problems out for themselves," said Heather Sensel, the education manager at the museum.
The center is included with entry to the museum and has robotics and 3D printers, plus something organizers say makes it "stand out."
"At the heart of it, it is the affiliation with the artwork and our unique connection to the world of picture books," said Dan Chudzinski, the museum's curator.
Hundreds of non-fiction picture books fill the center, selected specifically to help inspire young children in important fields. Mazza Museum employees say using picture books to teach young children has wide-reaching benefits.
"When you work for an engineer you'll read the instructions before you do it," Sensel said. "If you're a scientist you're going to read your formulas. It all goes back to some form of you need to learn to read and write. So reading is always going to be in the forefront of our education process."
One of the featured authors and illustrators, Jim Arnosky, has been writing books for over 50 years. He hopes that his drawings of nature will inspire children to want go out and see the real thing.
"They have to understand the actual world or else they're gonna lose contact with it. And any kind of representation of it, even in a picture book, is just a representation of it. It's not the actual being there. And kids have to want to be there," said Arnosky.
The Conda STEAM center hopes to arm kids with skills that will carry with them well into adulthood.
"This is the next generation, so they're going to be taking care of us, and we need to get them into that mind thinking they can figure things out," said Sensel.