Springfield, Mo. – As the recipient of the STOP Award, the Discovery Center has some big ideas for how it’s going to use the money.

“When you look at what this means for the state and the community like all the eyes are on us,” Executive Director Rob Blevins said. “How do we do things differently and better. How can we put kids first is our why and do whatever it takes to serve them.”

Blevins said winning the award is surreal.

“I don’t do well with disappointment, so I tend to prepare myself to be disappointed,” Blevins said. “I was actually so well prepared to be disappointed that we didn’t receive the award that it was hard to actually accept the fact that we had in the moment.”

The Discovery center was one of five finalists in the running for the money. It was also one of 20 semi-finalists.

“I always believed that we had an exceptional response and educational response to COVID but to hear from those organizations, the Center for Education Reform, Forbes, and the benefactors that we were the best of the best validates all of the hard work that our time put into this,” Blevins said.

The work started roughly two years ago when the pandemic hit.

 “In five days we went from a science center to licensed emergency childcare,” Blevins said. “We took the kids right then and there. It was one of those moments where we felt it was our patriotic duties to take these kids and let healthcare workers do their job.”

Now, the science museum has a school for students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

“We serve over four states for field trips, over 30 counties for our outreach lessons where we drive there and back in a day and provide that hands-on experiential learning with the classes that we serve,” Blevins said. “Virtually we’re over 30 states and 3 countries.”

The center is wanting to continue to expand. What it will use the money for is up in the air. But, it has several ideas in mind.

“Part of the things we’re going to do is develop an app that educators whether they’re home school, public school, charter school, private school, pod school will be able to provide the type of knowledge that we want to provide to our parents as far as how their kids are attaining grade level in real-time,” Blevins said. “When you get a grade card, that’s a backward look of how things went this semester. We want to provide a real-time look so you can look forward and say ‘ hey are we on target to hit our grade-level standards this year.”

The center is hoping to expand classes to freshman and sophomore students.