By Dave Ongie, News Editor
Since its inception, the Hands On! Discovery Center has been a place for children to learn and grow through hands-on play and exploration.
In its new location at the Gray Fossil Site, the discovery center has really hit its stride and now attracts over 70,000 visitors each year, including children from 40 different school systems across four states. When Dr. Rachel Hymes, president of the First District Dental Society, became aware of the enormous impact Hands On! is able to make in the lives of children across our region, she developed an idea for an exhibit that would help children learn more about dental hygiene.
“When I started reading how many schools come here every year, there are 40 different school systems in four states that come here, so I thought this would be the best way to educate all the children on how to brush and floss properly,” she said.
Hymes and members of the First District Dental Society were on hand last Saturday night at the discovery center for the unveiling of an oversized set of teeth – complete with an oversized tooth brush and dental floss – designed to get children thinking about how to properly care for their teeth and gums. The anatomically correct mouth was designed by Essyx, which built the exhibit using a 3-D model of an actual set of dentures.
Children are encouraged to brush the set of teeth for two minutes before flossing. As each individual tooth is clean, a light inside the tooth will go out to let the child know to move on to the next tooth.
Making the exhibit a reality required a grassroots effort among the dentists in our area. Many of them were on hand last Saturday to celebrate the $40,000 investment they made collectively to advance the cause of dental health.
“We were able to raise it within about two months,” Hymes said. “It was really amazing that they were willing to come together for this.”