Through exhibits that explore everything from astronomy and physics to biology and paleontology, the Science Factory inspires a lifelong love of science in children as well as adults. Above all else, the nonprofit embraces a motto of "please touch," creating safe, engaging opportunities for children to act on their curiosity and gain insight into the principles underlying scientific and technological theories.
The Exploration Dome exemplifies the immersive nature of the Museum, surrounding audiences with a full-dome screen that displays digital and live-action films. These educational features can take guests to virtually any location in the world and beyond, including the heart of the Borneo rainforest, the depths of prehistoric oceans, the edge of our galaxy's super-massive black hole, and a universe where popcorn kernels never get stuck in your teeth. Permanent exhibits—including a feature on responsible recycling as well as a terrarium of lizards, frogs, and plants, complete with Renegade, the Museum's resident iguana—explore topics in more depth, complementing both the Exploration Dome’s videos and an ever-changing roster of special attractions.
The team at Noteworthy Learning doesn't just notice when kids struggle with reading, long division, and other key skills. They investigate the root cause of the problem, which usually stems from a weakness in one of 27 learning aptitudes. From there, they create a personalized curriculum that builds on each kids' unique strengths, such as seeing hot lava monsters invisible to adults.
This approach can be especially helpful for educational transitions, such as the start of high school or college. And thanks to an experienced leader, Sue Luker, the team is equipped to deal with them all. She draws on more than 35 year as a public school teacher, plus a masters degree in curriculum design, to advise her team on designing their programs. The results have given kids ages K-12 the upper academic hand, including children with special needs.
Early Ears owner and professional musician Anahid Bertrand teaches children the magic of musical expression through a variety of kid-friendly instruction techniques. MusiKids classes (a $50 value) provide an outlet for newborn to 4-year-old mini maestros to express their inner boogie-woogie by introducing them to a rotating number of fun, approachable instruments, including drums, violins, triangles, and teeny, tiny 18th-century cathedral organs. Pintsize musicians age 4–7 can get their virtuoso on by participating with peers in group piano, violin, or voice classes (a $48 value), and musicians of all ages can benefit from private music tutoring (a $50 value for two lessons). Aside from excelling in the universal language of song, Bertrand is fluent in six spoken languages, ranging from Spanish to Bulgarian, and Groupon holders are welcome to use the value of today's deal toward language classes as well. The class schedule lists dates throughout the week, including convenient Saturday times to accommodate busy families or superhero parents.
Ever since taking childhood piano lessons, Susane Reis has tickled the ivories in college, graduate school, and while touring with bands throughout the US. It wasn't until moving to Eugene, however, that she encountered the perfect tool for teaching the instrument to future generations of pianists: the Harmony Road music method. Rooted in group classes, the comprehensive program helps children aged 18 months to 12 years train their ears, refine their keyboard skills, and even write their own compositions.
Once they have three to four years of piano experience under their belt, pupils can enroll in The Eugene Piano Academy, LLC's private lessons. In these sessions, Susane and her fellow teachers further hone students' skills by focusing on everything from jazz improvisation to playing entire Bach concertos with just your nose.
Glass doors line two lofted floors at The Lesson Factory's headquarters, barely able to contain the harmonies held within. In training rooms throughout the facility, instructors—some with degrees as high as the graduate level—guide aspiring musicians of all ages toward their music-making goals with programs geared to individualized learning. Students choose from rock and classical instruments, learning how to form chords on a guitar, keep steady rhythms on drums, or nobly play violin on a sinking boat. Thanks to a steady schedule of blues jams for adults and recitals for kids, all budding musicians get the chance to show off their skills to an audience on a regular basis.
At the Oregon Photography School, a duo of skilled shutterbugs with a combined 27 years of experience imparts the secrets of snapping and manipulating artistic images to pupils of all stripes. Vernon T. Williams has conveyed the dignity of famous subjects, including two presidential candidates and a Nobel Prize winner, and his work has appeared in The Economist and other national magazines. Jon Christopher Meyers boasts an eclectic commercial-work portfolio, with recent work including the Eugene Ballet Company's midair athleticism and hawks flying midair from the Cascades Raptor Center.
The school draws on Williams's and Meyers's rich backgrounds to inform intensive workshops on everything from the basics of film- and digital-camera manipulation to portrait photography's finer techniques, such as hypnotizing a subject with nothing but a piece of string tied to a lens cap. After an in-studio or on-location class, an online student/instructor-review tool continues the relationship, letting students post their shots for ongoing feedback and for inspirational haikus from their instructor and fellow photographers.