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Air Zoo museum in Portage offers virtual science education labs for children

PORTAGE, MI — The Air Zoo Aerospace and Science Museum is deploying virtual learning programs through its museum in Portage and across the country in an effort to expose kids and their parents to science education, the museum announced in a news release.

The Air Zoo’s virtual programs are for children age 3 and up, and designed up to immerse kids in hands-on science education courses. Financial aid and scholarships are offered to help both individuals and groups that meet requirements and cover the cost of most of their educational programs, Air Zoo said in the release.

“As we build on the outstanding success of our new, immersive and engaging virtual summer camp programs, that reached children and families across the country, and even into Mexico, the dedicated team here at the Air Zoo is so proud to announce that it has just launched a new and exciting arsenal of science programs, we refer to them as our Virtual Learning Labs,” Air Zoo President and CEO Troy Thrash said in the release.

The Virtual Learning Labs include Education@Home and Virtual STE@M programs for classrooms as well as newly developed programs for Girl Scouts, Scouts BSA, Cub Scouts, libraries and other organizations.

“As the year progresses, the Air Zoo commits to exploring even more ways to encourage, engage, and ignite our future technical workforce, support our dedicated educators and inspire our community leaders,” the Air Zoo said in the release.

Air Zoo’s Education@Home programs are geared toward families that are not only homeschooling their children, but also those with children in virtual or hybrid classrooms, learning from home. The 75-minute programs are segmented by age and offered once per month, now through May 2021, the release said.

The cost for registration is $6 per child, plus shipping for those with Air Zoo provided material kits to enhance the hands-on learning experience as kids follow along live with an Air Zoo Educator, the museum said in the release. Kits can also be picked up at the Air Zoo, 6151 Portage Road in Portage.

The Air Zoo museum in Portage is open at limited capacity Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Mondays are reserved for vulnerable population only. Due to state-mandated limited capacity and cleaning requirements, visitors are encouraged to purchase admission on the museum website in advance.

Select programs will not require a kit and will instead provide a list of items that are typically found in the home.

The Air Zoo’s Virtual STE@M Programs for Classrooms are designed to support K-12 educators that are structured virtually, on-site, or even a hybrid model with live instruction via a secure digital environment, the release said. These science-based programs are hands-on, grade level specific and include materials kit and/or a material list to help engage students follow along as they interact with an Air Zoo Educator, the release said.

Girl Scouts, Scouts BSA, Cub Scouts, area libraries and other groups also have a new assortment of