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Education Spotlight: Cook Museum of Natural Science

Education Spotlight: Cook Museum of Natural Science

Cook Museum of Decatur, AL
children looking at an aquarium at Cook Museum in Decatur Alabama, recently awarded the #1 museum in the nation.
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The Cook Museum of Natural Science is an award-winning state-of-the-art natural science museum in downtown Decatur, AL, that opened in the summer of 2019. It’s a great place for kids of all ages to experience hands on learning about the world around us. Recently, we sat down with the museum’s Marketing and PR director, Mike Taylor to get the lowdown on why it’s such a great addition to the educational resources in North Alabama.

Business Details
133 4th Ave NE, Decatur, AL 35601
(256) 351-4505
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Tell us your organization’s story. How did it come about? What need does your business fill in the community? What makes you unique?
The Cook Museum of Natural Science provides a hands-on, immersive experience where kids can explore, interact with, and learn about nature. The Cook Museum’s roots can be traced back to 1968 when John Cook, Sr. opened his professional insect collection to the public by appointment, which at the time had been used primarily for employee training at Cook’s Pest Control. It later grew to include a wide array of mounted wildlife, touring malls throughout Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia.

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In 1980, additional collections of rocks, minerals, fossils, coral, sea shells, mounted wildlife, and federally protected migratory birds were acquired, and a 5,000 square foot building was constructed to house Cook’s Natural Science Museum. From its opening in 1980 until its closing in 2016, the museum welcomed more than 750,000 visitors . As meaningful as the museum had been for decades, the Cook family decided it was time to reinvent the museum as an even more engaging, exciting, and educational experience for the next generation. The new Cook Museum of Natural Science, now a non-profit 501(c)(3), held its grand opening on June 7, 2019.

What “problem” do you see in the community that you can solve for your customers? 
We offer a family-friendly, fun, educational, and safe environment for people of all ages to make memories and deepen their love and knowledge of nature.

Do you have any upcoming events, programs, or specials to share with readers?
We always have a lot of fun events and programs including community classes, homeschooling classes, and day camps and workshops. We have ongoing events each month, so go to our calendar to see our latest events. One especially cool event we’re doing right now is perfect for the child who is CRAZY about our animals and interested in a hands-on experience. It’s called “Aquarist for a Day” and participants will get to experience live animal feedings, a behind the scenes tour, a shark dissection and much more!

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What advice can you offer parents who are looking for ways to supplement their child’s educational journey?
In order to supplement your child’s education journey, it is a great idea to give experiences they may not be able to get at home. Those experiences can come in both structured and unstructured forms. At the Cook Museum of Natural Science, our education department offers classes all month geared toward attaining this goal in a structured way. These classes cover the Alabama and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and are loaded with STEM activities, engaging labs, and science fun. We offer our Homeschool and Community Classes several times a month. Also, throughout the year, we have many exciting camps that cover various science themes. Our state of the art, museum exhibits offer many opportunities to enhance the learning you are doing at home in an unstructured, free-learning way and you may even catch a Science on the Spot or Live Animal Presentation to complete your tour.