Children find Discover-E at Queens Library Center

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Discover-E greets the Central Library's young users at the Discovery Center during its gala opening. Photo by Ivan Pereira

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By Ivan Pereira
Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Children’s Discovery Center at the Queens Central Library has been open since the middle of the summer, but no science place would be complete without an official introduction from a high-tech helper.

Queens Library administrators and elected officials gathered at the new center last Thursday for its official unveiling and spared no expense to tout the all-new, all-different children’s section. The 25,000-square-foot, two-floor space is dedicated to science and technology with interactive exhibits, literature and other materials for children.

Dozens of students were on hand as Borough President Helen Marshall, Queens Library Chief Executive Officer Thomas Galante and City Councilmen Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans) and Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside) praised the center along with Discover-E, a 6-foot robot who served as the event’s master of ceremonies.

“There are people living here from over 120 countries and that does not count manufacturing beings like me,” the robot said to an amazed crowd.

Galante said the library has been working on the center for more than a decade because although the facility had thousands of books in dozens of languages in its branches, it did not have a place that was dedicated to science and math.

The space once belonged to a nightclub that used to be a nuisance to the neighborhood and was eventually shut down. The library system was able to purchase that property and add it to the central branch.

Elected officials helped secure funds for the $30.3 million construction and additional funding came from the National Science Foundation.

“It took a lot of capital funding to make this,” Galante said.

The center’s entrance has an interactive floor map of Queens that shows off various landmark sites, such as Citi Field and the Queensborough Bridge. Each spot will produce a sound associated with the site such as fish and birds at Jamaica Bay.

The map became a dance floor during the celebration as Discover-E showed off his moves with guests, including the borough president.

A rotating set of science exhibits is also located on the first floor and gives children hands-on experiments ranging in everything from geology to electrophysics.

“They’re designed to attract children, but they are also used to teach about life,” Marshall said.

The center also has updated furniture, a new reading room for toddlers and up-to-date computers for elementary schoolchildren. Comrie and Van Bramer applauded the library for creating a popular zone and stressed that it will provide a good supplement to their education in school.

“This place is open every day, free of charge, and that’s an amazing thing to have in the community,” said Van Bramer, who chairs the Council Library Committee.

This entry was posted on Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 at 4:36 pm and is filed under Education, Feature, Print Articles, TimesLedger. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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