In July, Discovery Junction, a Spokane Central Church outreach ministry, offered free weekday morning programs for children in the surrounding community.
“This summer we did a week of Lego robotics, a week of cooking and a week of art,” said Gayle Haeger, Upper Columbia Conference urban ministries coordinator. “We added another Lego robotics class in the afternoon during the last week.”
The Spokane Public Library lends kits to Discovery Junction for their Lego robotics program. Each kit includes a specific project with plans, software and building supplies.
“I think technology is a real draw for many children,” said Haeger. “They make some really fun robots. One is called ‘Reptar’ and is a snake-like robot with the ability to move in all directions with a heat sensor that makes it strike at a warm object, like your leg. Another is called ‘Tracker’ and it can throw marbles.”
Due to COVID-19 precautions in 2020, Discovery Junction was unable to offer the traditional program. So they continued their community outreach in other forms.
“Last winter, during the COVID shutdown, we asked the [nearby public elementary] school if there was anything we could do to help,” said Haeger. “They asked us if we could provide a safe place with wireless internet to help neighborhood children who were having difficulty staying on task at home. We served eight children over several months. The teachers and administrators expressed deep gratitude for that service.”
Discovery Junction History
Beginning in 2016, Discovery Junction worked with the nearby public elementary school twice a week to provide an after-school program focused on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics). The programs went so well they decided to begin providing summer programs for all the neighborhood children, ages 8–13.
Since then, Discovery Junction has been holding summer sessions with programs that vary in subject matter, including courses in microscope studies and biology.
The summer programs had a slow start in their early years, but now they’re flourishing and are full each week.
“When we began six years ago, the classes were very small,” says Haeger. “This year they were full. Our limit is 12 because our space is not large.”
The Discovery Junction ministry happens in a small house between the Spokane Central Church and its fellowship hall. It had been privately owned until the church purchased it in 2015. Soon after, the 80-plus-year-old home was converted into a space for ministry.
With volunteers from Upper Columbia Academy, church members and Pathfinders, the house was transformed into Discovery Junction, a safe place for local children to enjoy extracurricular activities.
Donated supplies and computers, as well as the financial gifts of generous donors, made Discovery Junction a reality. Find out more about this unique community outreach at Facebook.com/SteamAheadDJ.