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"Sensory Friendly"

Written by Paul Sutter on Monday, 07 November 2016. Posted in From The Desk of...The Chief Scientist

Science is for Sharing. That's my motto and I'm sticking to it. This isn't always easy, especially at a science center as large as COSI with such a broad audience. How do we make the museum as welcoming and inviting a place as possible? How do we develop demos, games, and activities that speak to one audience without alienating another? How can we tell if we're doing a good job?

Thankfully there are plenty of amazing, dedicated people at COSI and OSU that are starting to answer those questions. A couple months ago I overheard Gerlinde Higginbotham talking about preparations for an upcoming Sensory Friendly Day. On this day she wanted COSI to welcome kids with cognitive and developmental disabilities, but wasn't sure who would lead the effort to select and develop demos and activities.

Within an hour I had Gerlinde introduced to Anna Voelker, a student I advise at OSU who has a passion for bringing science to underserved audiences. Anna immediately dove into the project, selecting existing carts and outreach activities that would be appropriate, developing new demos just for that audience, and organizing volunteers from both COSI and OSU to run theater games to teach social skills.

With a generous gift from OSU's Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics, we had over 100 students, chaperones, and parents visit COSI on Sensory Friendly Day. By all accounts the event was a huge success, and it was amazing to see so many COSI teams pitch in to help, including the volunteer crew, outreach, marketing, floor faculty, theaters, and CRE. Thanks to all for creating such a special opportunity for those kids!

About the Author

Paul Sutter

Paul Sutter

Paul Sutter is COSI's Chief Scientist. He is an astrophysicist and offers a wealth of knowledge about our universe. In addition to his COSI position, Paul Sutter is a Cosmological Researcher and Community Outreach Coordinator at The Ohio State University's Center for Cosmology and AstroParticle Physics (CCAPP).