Sensory Saturdays at Cox Science Center and Aquarium
Updated: Oct 5
An event that started in 2019 is now looking to expand through various volunteer opportunities. Cox Science Center and Aquarium, a rapidly growing community, is working to open minds to science and recently launched an initiative to do just that: Sensory Saturdays.
Kristiana Holte, the Science Center's director of events and memberships, was driving through her hometown one day and looked at some science centers in the area. She noticed other science centers had a “sensory hour” for people who are on the autism spectrum. She immediately presented the idea to her team. This is where they came up with "Sensory Saturdays."
“If they can do it, we can do it,” Holte said.
The science center's mission statement is to “open every mind to science,” and they work diligently to make that mission a reality.
Sensory Saturdays is a special event hosted on the first Saturday of every month. On this day the science center opens an hour earlier for children on the autism spectrum, along with their families.
Kristian Zambrana, director of visitor services, explained that during this hour, the Cox Science Center team and volunteers make this environment comfortable for those with autism. They do this by altering the lighting and noise of some of the activities.
The science center started these events in 2019 and partnered with Autism Speaks a couple of years later, allowing them to expand. Autism Speaks sent professionals to walk through the exhibits and identify anything that might be triggering to these children.
“These families can come in and experience the science center, which is a place they would likely avoid -- and now, it's a place they look forward to,” said Zambrana.
The science center took the idea of having a sensory hour and made it into something helpful for the community of West Palm Beach. Zambrana mentioned expanding this hour into something more and with the help of young minds.
Zambrana said that the science center wants to expand Sensory Saturdays to more than just once a month, and this is something they are hoping to do very soon.
The community near Dreher Park, where the science center is located, is welcoming of this initiative. And, the Cox staff members seem to love what they are doing for the community.
Scott and Celina Billows had great things to say about the community and the activities there.
“It was such a fun experience, there was so much to see and do. I really love when a place like this has really warm and welcoming people who are working -- it makes the experience that much better,” said Celina Billows.
She added, “We can't wait to come back for the Titanic exhibit. I think I am more excited for that than my kids are."
With the expansion of their event and the opening of new exhibits like the Titanic one, the science center is always ready to welcome new faces to their team.
Volunteering is also an option. Zambrana mentioned there are many different opportunities for students to get volunteer hours and be a part of their community.
Zambrana stated they love to work with college students and see what new ideas they bring to the center.
“They really bring a curiosity and a willingness to change what we are doing,” he stated.
You can find more information about volunteering and various initiatives at the Cox Science Center here: https://www.coxsciencecenter.org/volunteer
By Estella Collmer