At the current time, the site of the Discovery Center is mostly natural habitat, except for a yurt and a night sky observatory. Over the next few years, a 19,000 square foot LEEDS-certified facility is being planned to be built on the site.
The Discovery Center purchased 20 acres north of Monticello in 2009 and recently approved the purchase of an additional 28 acres. If you look west at the Monticello welcome sign on the north side of town, you will see the location for the project.
A four-year, $8.5 million campaign is in process to raise the funds necessary to build and operate the facility. The building is expected to cost $6 million and the remaining funds will help provide program and operating support.
Four Corners School founder Janet Ross reports that fundraising for the Discovery Center project is going well. The Discovery Center will be operated by the Discovery Institute for Conservation Education.
In 2002, two members of the City of Monticello Economic Development Committee proposed the idea of a hands-on, informal educational science center that they believed would create new opportunities for the area’s students, teachers, families, and economy.
Over the following years, the idea was developed and expanded by the Economic Development Committee and their chosen partner, Four Corners School of Outdoor Education (FCS).
The CCDC has made much progress. In recent years, they formed a small Capital Campaign Committee, secured additional funds, set up an astronomy dome and operated four Earth, Water, Sky Summer Science Camps, funded by the state of Utah and BLM, for fifty youth ages 12-18.
The Summer Science Camp in 2010, which operated on the San Juan River from June 16 to 19, was another success.
The Discovery Center will design all its programs around an educational philosophy known as “place-based education.” This approach will distinguish the programs from others in the region, as place-based education has been championed by many educators and learning theorists as the best way to increase students’ academic performances.
Place-based education helps students learn about the world by first developing a deep knowledge of their own community’s history, culture, and ecology--a knowledge of their own “place.”
Place becomes a unifying context for hands-on and inquiry-based activities, allowing students to learn by focusing on their community’s needs and interests and allowing community members to become partners in every aspect of teaching and learning.
The Canyon Country Discovery Center will offer all its programming from multiple perspectives, like Navajo, Hispanic, Hopi, and Anglo--all cultures of the Colorado Plateau.
In accord with its educational philosophy, all of Discovery Center programs will be based on five content areas related to the Colorado Plateau, with six or more interactive learning stations in each content area inside the Visitors Center plus many more outside on our 48 acre outdoor classroom:
Natural History and Landscapes of the Colorado
People and Place of the Colorado Plateau
Canyon Country Land Use and Energy
Canyon Country Astronomy and Weather
Water and its Effects on the Region
The Discovery Center will offer both onsite and outreach outdoor education programs around our Colorado Plateau content areas, including:
Hands-on interactive exhibits (30) designed for multiple ages and diverse audiences, with all signs and other written literature in English, Navajo, and Spanish.
The exhibit area will be self-guided and accommodate families, small groups of students or single users at multiple workstations facilitated by floor staff or Discovery Guides. All programs will be based in the five content areas.
Outdoor Classroom elements such as Constellation Circles, Analemma, Pond and Wetlands, Nature Playscape, Animal Tracks, a Colorado River model, stream table, geo-strata wall, Vertical Axis Wind Turbines, Ethnobotany Trails and Gardens, Solar Display Panel, Dendrochronology benches, and a Wildlife Puzzle.
Onsite education programs for K-12 students and teachers within the Visitor Center that enhance and supplement a school’s core curriculum. The programs will be facilitated by “Discovery Guides,” who will be trained education professionals and intimately familiar with all exhibits and place-based education. Astronomy will be a special part of the outdoor classroom with a complete roll-off roof observatory, already on site.
Teacher education programs, offered both as onsite and outreach programs that build on and complement the successful teacher professional development program established in 1998 by FCS – The Bioregional Outdoor Education Project. Professional development at CCDC will ultimately lead to certification in place-based education.
Education outreach, in which staff will travel to communities on the Colorado Plateau to provide programs to schools and other interested residents. For teachers and school groups, outreach will offset the costs and legal limitations of traveling long distances and/or out-of-state.
Research programs directed by a full time Ph.D. Research Director and run by short and long-term visiting researchers and their students.
Proposed research themes include sustainable agriculture; renewable resources and alternative technologies; technologies applicable to invasive species control, hydrology, meteorology, mineralogy, and resources use; and teacher professional development. A small field lab will be available for researchers as well.
Conference/community meeting hall and classroom. The 2,000 square foot dividable area will be used for astronomy, archaeology, science, and other conference groups, local clubs and special events, as well as regional groups and lectures and will accommodate up to 150 participants. CCDC classes will also be held here and a “bouldering” wall may be planned for after school activities.
After-school and evening programs, workshops, and lectures will be open to the public and focused on the Discovery Center’s content areas. These programs and events will be opportunities for in-house research teams, faculty, or guests of the community to present their work, be it professional or amateur.
Certification programs will include outdoor leadership, range/recreation, archaeology, and place-based education certification.