Discovery Museum Marks New Year with Noon Celebration in Santa Maria

Posted in: Noozhawk, Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum, Special Events

By Janene Scully, Noozhawk North County Editor

About 300 excited children and adults count down to the noon year on Monday at the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum’s annual celebration. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

December 31, 2018

Paper plates became noisemakers and tiny pompoms found many uses as hundreds of children — and adults — readied to ring in the new year at noon Monday.

The Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum hosted its annual Noon Year’s Eve party where the merriment was high although the clocks said it was early.

Nipomo’s Myra Mendoza made party hats for 3-year-old twins Penelope and Alec.

“It’s a nice, child-friendly activity to get the wiggles out and celebrate the new year,” she said.

Multiple craft tables provided ribbons, glue, pompoms and other supplies for making noisemakers and party hats.

It wasn’t just children having fun.

“Now it’s a party,” one man proclaimed as he donned his completed party hat.

After ringing in the new year at noon — approximately — children snacked on apple cider and cookies while carrying on the celebration.

The 2018 party drew a larger crowd than last year, with more than 300 attendees.

“It’s exceeding our expectations. The families are having a great time,” said Nancy Gastelum, executive director.  “I’m seeing lots of interaction with the parents and the children together which is really the mission of the museum.”

She joined the museum staff in 2018, replacing Chris Slaughter who moved to the East Coast.

In 2018, the Discovery Museum added another phase of the Vandenberg Launch Experience exhibit, giving children a chance to be at the console for mock missions.

For the coming year, the museum hopes to add a celestial ceiling to the Vandenberg Launch Experience to help boost the education it provides.

A Discovery shuttle replica also will be added to the museum’s rooftop in early 2019.

After donning her party hat, Julieta Salcedo, who turns 2 in February, celebrates the “noon year” with a cookie and a flight in the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum’s space shuttle orbiter. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

The Discovery Museum has acquired a grant to purchase a sensory path where children  — especially those with special needs — can jump, sidestep, push or perform other movements so they can release energy and refocus their brains.

With the addition, the Discovery Museum will look to add a time for special needs students to use the facility.

A private donation will fund the addition of a musical instrument, possibly a hanging xylophone set up outside for youths, Gastelum added.

And a Coastal Resource Enhancement Fund grant will help boost the ocean-themed exhibit by adding a pier, murals and floor decals to help inform children about their own backyard, she said.

The museum continues to work to create an exhibit showcasing the Santa Maria Valley ag industry linking to the Moxie Cafe exhibit to show a farm-to-table experience.

“We’re in the beginning preliminary fundraising stages for that,” she said, adding they hope to add that exhibit within 2 years.

Other plans call for expanded workshops, focused on science, techology, engineering, arts and math, in the makerspace geared toward older children as well as younger children.

The Discovery Museum at 705 S. McClelland St. is marking its 22nd year and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.

Admission costs $6, or is free for members.

For more information about membership, daily programs and special events, visit the website or call the museum at 805.928.8414.

— Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk@NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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