Press

Think Link Discovery Center ‘magical place’

Written by Dick Mason, The Observer January 11, 2011 07:44 am
Preschool students work with beans at a measuring station at Think Link’s Discovery Center Thursday morning. The children, from left, are Ayla Collins, Karlee Polfer and Kaitlin Polfer. Karlee and Kaitlin are twins. The girls are being supervised by Sonya Adamson, one of Think Link’s preschool teachers.

Preschool students work with beans at a measuring station at Think Link’s Discovery Center Thursday morning. The children, from left, are Ayla Collins, Karlee Polfer and Kaitlin Polfer. Karlee and Kaitlin are twins. The girls are being supervised by Sonya Adamson, one of Think Link’s preschool teachers.

These children are only 3 to 5 years old but they do not come up short in the tall tales department.

The boys and girls demonstrated their storytelling skills Thursday morning during a snack break at the Think Link Discovery Center’s preschool.

Fishing stories were being spun and the children were sharing whoppers. One boy told of a 180-pound catfish he reeled in and a girl boasted of landing a 200-pound trout and a 100-pound goldfish.

The children may or may not ever hook monster fish, but one thing is certain — they are already hooked on the art of hands-on learning and exploring.

The proof came minutes later when the preschoolers stepped into Think Link’s Discovery Center just outside their classroom. The children did not have to be lured into the center by their teachers. Instead, the boys and girls ran into it with Christmas Day-like excitement. They embraced the center’s stations, playing musical instruments including a xylophone, balancing a ball on a cushion of air, assembling Legos, diving into an ocean display, expressing awestruck wonder in a dinosaur room and much more.

Had the children’s excitement been harnessed, it might have been enough to power La Grande’s streetlights for an hour in the evening.

“It was an explosion of energy,’’ said Think Link Director Cherie Kausler, who serves as a co-teacher for the preschool with Sonya Adamson.

The preschoolers visit the Discovery Center several times a week. At each visit, the children’s minds frolic.

“They are learning through playing at the discovery center,’’ Kausler said. “This is a magical place.’’

The discovery center, which also has a puppet theater and model railroad station, can now be enjoyed by everyone. The center is open to the public from 3 to 7 p.m. Mondays. Parents are encouraged to come with their children. Admission is free, but a $2 donation is encouraged.

Family movies will soon be shown during the Monday hours the Discovery Center is open.

The new Discovery Center programs and the vibrancy of its long-running preschool, named Especially for Little Folks, represent evidence of an upswing at Think Link — an upswing that will be fueled in the future by things like the return of Think Link’s Science Saturdays. Community experts will teach about everything from insects to astronomy at Science Saturdays, which will be offered again in several months.

Think Link, a non-profit organization that started operating in 1997 in La Grande, will also soon begin a community outreach program. A traveling nutrition information station will be set up at elementary schools in Union County as part of this program.

A $5,000 grant Think Link received from the Safeway Foundation is one reason Think Link is enjoying an uptick.

“It put a building block in place for the next piece of the picture,’’ Kausler said.

Also integral to the success of Think Link, based at the Riveria Activity Center, are its volunteers. Think Link is launching a campaign to recruit community members willing to lend a hand.

“Volunteers are huge,’’ Kausler said.

Think Link leaders are seeking volunteers to assist with exhibit development, early childhood programs, computers, the organization’s library, teaching, a fundraising task force and special events.

Think Link is also in need of people who would like to serve on its board.

Anyone who would like to assist should call 541-975-2040. Additional information about Think Link is available at its web site, www.thinklinkdiscoverycenter.org.

Foundation awards $105,000 to local youth organizations

Written by Dick Mason, The Observer October 01, 2010 12:22 am

http://www.lagrandeobserver.com/News/Local-News/Foundation-awards-105000-to-local-youth-organizations