An average kid can ask hundreds of questions per day. It’s no coincidence that the Children’s Museum of Houston, ranked number one in the nation by Parents magazine, caters to youthful curiosity with a “How Does It Work?” exhibit.
Sponsored by Flint Hills Resources (FHR) Houston Chemical plant, the year-round attraction offers an entertaining and interactive way to explore science and technology. James Rhame, local site manager for FHR, was first contacted by the museum in 2015. “They were wondering, since our company had just joined the Houston community, if FHR would be interested in supporting the museum,” said Rhame. “We wanted to know their target audience, and make sure the doors would be open to all socioeconomic areas.”
The FHR team soon learned that almost 50 percent of the museum’s more than 810,000 annual visitors receive free or discounted admissions through partnerships with over 800 community service organizations that assist low-income families. “I went through the museum and they almost couldn’t get me out of there because it was so interesting,” recalls Rhame. “My parents, sister, son and daughter have all worked as educators in Texas. I love technology and helping kids, so this was a positive experience from the start. It met everything that I think Flint Hills Resources is all about.”
Tracy Golden, director of development for the Children’s Museum of Houston, has expressed similar appreciation for FHR. “Their funding allows us to reach so many children who wouldn’t have these educational opportunities. The ‘How Does It Work?’ exhibit has been a cornerstone here, teaching children about engineering and physics and inspiring them to understand that careers in these fields are possible at places like Flint Hills Resources.”
Painted portraits of successful innovators and their accomplishments are prominently displayed from wall to wall, further sparking imagination. “The designers really did a great job of showing diverse scientists of various ethnicities, genders and ages. If kids have in their minds that a scientist or technology professional can only be a certain kind of person, I hope this gets rid of all those myths,” said Rhame. “When you hear the children laughing, hollering and having fun, it’s obvious the museum makes learning exciting.”
A ceremony was held on September 25, 2015 to open the exhibit as part of a 35th anniversary celebration for the museum. Updates included a pneumatic tube system that demonstrates airflow, a roller coaster construction station for exploring kinetic energy, a Rig-ama-jig display focused on architectural and engineering problem-solving, and a science station to host new workshops and experiments each week.
FHR has currently committed to the sponsorship for three years. James Rhame recently joined the museum’s board, and is now personally assisting with its vision to transform communities through innovative, child-centered learning.
“One of the responsibilities of any business is to be a good neighbor,” said Rhame. “We’re proud of everything the Children’s Museum of Houston is doing for education in this community. It’s an honor to support them.”