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Discovery Corral - making science fun for old & young

Special to the Courier

Can learning about mechanical advantages, sound waves and steam power be fun? It can be at the Frontier Times Museum's Discovery Corral, a new exhibit designed to teach young children simple principles of science and natural history by combining play with learning.
Located in the museum's backyard, Discovery Corral, Bandera's newest family attraction, will open to the public from 1 pm to 3 pm, Sunday, Oct. 13, during the museum's Family Fun Day.
The Discovery Corral includes the Rusty Nail Revue, a dress-up area and stage with an old-fashioned washboard and washtub "bass" where children can make music. Just like real paleontologists, kids will discover fossils and a dinosaur track in the Corral's Great Fossil Find. They can learn about sound waves and make some noise with the "Bang-n-Clang." Children will have a chance to learn how to lift a 40-pound feed sack using their own muscle power.
The Discovery Corral is also home to the museum's half-scale steam engine and a printing press. The half-scale steam engine has recently been restored through a volunteer project and plans are underway to restore the printing press as well.
The Discovery Corral was built underneath an existing shed that was used for storage of some of the museum's collection. "Watching families with children visiting the museum, the staff realized the museum needed to offer activities geared toward young children. We also wanted to use this large enclosure in a better way than just for storage," explained Rebecca Norton, museum director. "The Bandera Community Foundation gave us the initial funding to begin the work and the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation gave us the funds this year to complete it."
Before work on the exhibit could be finished, the staff needed to keep the area from flooding. "When it rained, water would come rushing down between the shed and the museum's roof," said Norton. "We needed a way to catch valuable rainwater and keep the area dry." The Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District came to the rescue by donating a water catchment tank. DJ Bass donated the gutters and installed them himself to make sure every drop of rain made it into the tank.
Admission to the museum will be free for the grand opening.
In addition to the Discovery Corral, the museum will host the monthly Cowboy Camp, where local musicians play traditional cowboy music at the museum's outdoor Texas Trail Drivers Theatre. Cowboy Camp is held without charge from 1 pm to 5 pm the second Sunday of every month at the museum. After the grand opening, visitors can enjoy the Discovery Corral with the price of admission or become a museum member for free museum visits at any time.
For more information, call the Frontier Times Museum, 510 13th Street, at 830-796-3864.

Pictured: A refurbished and repainted half-scale steam engine will be on exhibit during the Frontier Times Museum's Discovery Corral on Sunday, Oct. 13.