New addition to First Impression Room under construction

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By Lindsay Hedgecock
Lansing Star staff writer

Ever wonder about the human body?

At Impression 5 Science Center in downtown Lansing, kids can learn all about science through hands on experinces.

Students from Battle Creek’s West Lake Elementary’s third grade class ran over each other as they climbed, touched, pointed and explored larger than life replicas of the human body at Impression 5.

“I thought the class the students had on sound was interesting and engaging,” said Debby Myatt, mother of Becca Myatt, a student at West Lake Elementary. “I like how they can interact with all of the displays here.”

Agreeing with Myatt, Lyn Turk, who plans on bringing her children back, stated that her kids enjoyed the hands on activities, as well.

Impression 5 is an interactive children’s museum, at 200 Museum Dr., that provides kids the opportunity to learn and explore different aspects of science.  Impression 5 is building a second addition to the First Impression Room, which should be done by late spring.

The new room will continue to appeal to children from infancy to age 4, said Erik Larson, executive director at Impression 5.

“What we’re trying to do is to create a dynamic and engaging environment for that age group and their caregivers,” said Larson. “The new room allows that age group to explore stem related concepts through child development programming.”

The project started about three years ago, right after the original First Impression Room opened and proved to be a success.

“As soon as we opened that first addition, it was packed and in demand.  We knew this age group was going to outgrow what we have,” said Larson. “So, we started looking at the facility we’re currently in and the management team started brain storming and visiting other facilities to get ideas. After coming up with a plan, we started talking to our partners, who immediately became involved.”

According to Katie Wittenauer, communications manager at Impression 5, the space is going to include:

Layout of new Final Impression Room

• a large climbing loft
• a water feature area with a water table for different levels for different ages
• an interactive smart board for art projects
• infant play space
• a huge crawl through oak tree

“Inside, the climbing structure will allow 2 and 3-year-olds to play so their growth motor skills can develop,” said Kate. “The water table allows the kids to experiment with floating things and the flow of water. A pretend house will allow kids to pretend and experiment and develop in a space where they feel safe.”

Impression 5 Funding

The project has exceeded $170,000 which was raised through grants, and donations by local businesses, and residents.

Jackson National Life Insurance Company and the Harley Beatty Foundation has raised $120,000 combined.

According to Danielle Weller, corporate responsibility specialist at Jackson National Life Insurance Company, Impression 5 has received money from the Jackson National Community Fund, which was started in January of 2007.  Jackson National Life Insurance also awarded Impression 5 a charitable grant.

“With a company with so many staff members (1800 employees) one thing that is really important is the community we’re living in is a strong community that has interesting cultural activities and events that will attract staff to that area,” said Weller. “One thing that is important to us is that the Lansing community is strong and Impression 5 is a great part of the Lansing community.  It’s a family friendly museum and our staff can take their kids, learn about science and have a fun day. It’s definitely something that enriches our Lansing community and we’re really glad that Impression 5 is here.”

Bob Beatty, president of the Harley Beatty Foundation considers the addition to the First Impression Room to be a memorial to his daughter, Harley, who passed away in 2003 from leukemia.

“When people enter the new First Impression room, they get to see our daughter’s picture on the wall,” said Beatty. “It’s a memorial in her honor.”

The Harley Beatty Foundation will be holding the 9th Annual Harley Beatty Classic golf outing sponsored by Texas Roadhouse in Lansing on Saturday, July 30, at Ledge Meadows Golf Course in Grand Ledge, mich.  All proceeds will go toward the First Impression Room.

Both Weller and Beatty recall going to the science center as children and are happy to be working with Impression 5 today.

“I want to see more kids crying when they leave,” said Beatty. “It’s another satisfied customer when a kid leaves crying.”

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