San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum

Imaginative play with blocks

Sparking a Love of Learning

For more than 20 years, San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum (SDCDM) has been serving the needs of families in San Diego County. Created by a group of parents in 1999, their vision for the Museum was to create a vibrant learning environment for their children where they could explore safely and embark on new adventures through play and imagination.

Situated in downtown Escondido, SDCDM encompasses 13,500 square feet of indoor and outdoor space. The Museum buzzes with squeals, giggles, and joy as children experiment with gravity, engineer dams, and dig for dinosaur bones. A true testament to their mission to spark a love of learning so all children can discover their wildest dreams.

“At San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum, we believe in what is called ‘purposeful play.’ Numerous studies have found that children develop critical developmental skills such as communication, problem-solving, and empathy through play,” said Whitney Raser, Director of Education at SDCDM. “All of our programs and exhibits are designed to integrate hands-on play as an essential component of early childhood development.”

However, for many families, access to early childhood education is limited. Barriers such as income, location, and limited resources prevent many children from receiving quality early education, thus widening the achievement gap and impeding life outcomes. The Museum’s Access for All program seeks to remove barriers, ensuring all children have an equal start in life. Through reduced admission, scholarships for Title-I schools, and sensory-friendly mornings for children with special needs, SDCDM provides a welcoming and inclusive space for all children and families seeking enriching, early learning opportunities.

Nearly 10% of the children SDCDM serves do not visit the Museum’s physical location. SDCDM’s Mobile Children’s Museum is a fleet of vehicles that bring the Museum’s interactive exhibits into the community. The program breaks down the transportation barrier many families and Title-I schools face. 90% of the children the Mobile Children’s Museum serves are economically disadvantaged.

“Because of our distance away from the city, our children sometimes miss out on educational experiences. We were so pleased that the students were able to problem solve, work on cooperation, and have some good old-fashioned fun with SDCDM’s engineering tasks. It was great to see the teamwork, inclusion, and creative thinking that arose from their play,” commented an elementary teacher at Julian Elementary.

The Museum’s mission to spark a love of learning would not be possible without the relentless support of the families, children, and teachers it serves. As the Museum continues to expand and grow its offerings, the community’s support is vital.

To celebrate early childhood education and the collective power of lighting the way for children, the Museum invites the community to its annual fundraising event, Ignite Their Spark, on Saturday, September 7, 2024. All proceeds from the event will support SDCDM’s ability to provide accessible hands-on learning to all children.

To learn more about San Diego Children’s Discovery Museum and how to get involved with Ignite Their Spark visit

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Esteban Villanueva