Planting the seed in a young person’s mind about a career in journalism is the purpose behind a new exhibit unveiled Tuesday at the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center.
“It gives kids a chance to physically build a newspaper,” said Zach Ahrens, publisher of The Topeka Capital-Journal, “to create something of their very own, to take it home.”
With countdown led by Ahrens, Topeka Mayor Larry Wolgast and Dene Mosier, executive director of the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center, pulled the red ribbon on the exhibit adorned with photos taken of Topeka-area elementary school children dressed for the different jobs in the newspaper industry.
The interactive booth, sponsored by The Topeka Capital-Journal, features hats, vests, press passes and other items children can wear while they use a template to create their own newspaper.
Mosier said the exhibit is a perfect fit for the center because it’s literacy-based and promotes critical thinking skills.
“Kids have the opportunity to come and practice writing,” she said. “They have the opportunity to draw pictures and express themselves. We want them to learn to ask questions and investigate. This is a way to kind of inspire that.”
The “junior journalists” featured in photos on the exhibit include students from Topeka Collegiate and Quincy Elementary schools. They dressed as reporters, editors, photographers, videographer, a paper carrier and a publisher.
“Being part of the community is important,” said Paula Huff, admissions director at Topeka Collegiate. “In addition, we always encourage them to think about what they want to do when they grow up, so maybe this is part of what they might be.”
While Aminah Martin, 6, a Collegiate first-grader, posed as an interviewer, her older brother, Daniel Martin, Jr., 7, a Collegiate second-grade student, posed as a data analyst, an occupation that uses critical thinking skills.
“He’s really interested in the sciences, and he says he wants to be an astronaut,” Daniel Martin, Sr., said about his son. “Flying planes and science, that’s his thing.”
Topeka Mayor Larry Wolgast said the interactive exhibit is a “great addition” to the discovery center because it gives children a chance to explore a wide spectrum of jobs.
“Particularly something as varied as a newspaper, where you do everything from writing to editing to designing to photography,” he said. “There’s just so many things that can be done.”
For information about the Kansas Children’s Discovery Center and for admission discounts available through the center’s Museums For All program, go to kansasdiscovery.org.
Contact reporter Angela Deines at (785) 295-1143 or on Twitter @AngelaDeines.