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Wine & Wishes for Weedon Center

Auction and gala shines spotlight on science center

The Carrie Weedon Science Center in Galesville is a place with an uncertain future but, its backers say, a great present.
    The former elementary school has been home to Anne Arundel County’s outdoor education program since 1988, a science field trip destination for elementary students countywide.
    Now, the School Board is weighing turning Carrie Weedon, along with 125 other facilities across the county, into an early education center.
    “We need to expand opportunities for four- and five-year-olds,” says Board COO Alex Szachnowicz. “There are four elementary schools in South County; only two have early education programs.”
    Decisions could be a year and a half away. Still, the loss of affordable hands-on outdoor experiences weighs on the foundation that sustains it.
    “To instill in our children a love of learning, science, curiosity and critical thinking, we’ve worked hard over the past 27 years,” says Foundation President Dotty Chaney. “We’ve put in new windows, a new roof, created climate controlled areas for our exhibits, removed asbestos, installed aquariums, bought microscopes.”
    Last year, schools made 74 daylong field trips to Carrie Weedon Science Center.
    Visits start in the Natural History room, which is filled with taxidermied animals, including Maryland birds and small mammals.
    “It is probably the children’s favorite,” says Chaney.
    On loan from Anne Arundel Community College, the mounts are in desperate need of repairs as feathers and fur fall.
    Live fish and turtles in the aquariums offer children a lesson in estuarine biology and ecology. Microscopes in the former chemistry lab were a part of the Living Culture Center where microscopic organisms were once cultured for use by county teachers.
    The classrooms offer hands-on experiences for the children, teaching about ecosystems, the environment and nature.
    “Many of the children who come from more urban areas have never had the experience of playing in the dirt or finding insects on plant leaves,” Chaney says. “It’s such a joy to see their faces light up when they are free to explore the outdoor world.”
    Weedon’s field trips complement the Anne Arundel County Public Schools’ science curricula.
    “Teachers choose Carrie Weedon because it offers high-quality, highly motivational, interactive, experiential science projects that stimulate and excite students’ critical thinking and creativity,” Chaney says.
    The Center offers scholarships to students whose families are not able to cover the cost, which typically ranges from $6 to $7 per student.
    The center is also home to other activities throughout the year. The Foundation hosts a speaker series on topics such as raptors, beekeeping, oysters and lighthouses. The local Ruritan Club uses the space to pack weekend snacks into backpacks for area children. And schools use any remaining space for storage.
    “This is so much more than an outdoor center; it’s also a sort of community center,” Chaney explains. “We still need a lot of improvements, equipment and money for scholarships for children.”
    Interested in helping the center fill its wish list?
    Attend the Wine & Wishes for Weedon Gala and Auction Saturday, 7-10pm at Galesville Memorial Hall. Bring a bottle of wine to exchange for two raffle tickets for the instant wine cellar. rsvp: 410-222-1625.