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Last fall Michele Whelley, a member of the board of directors for the Port Discovery Children's Museum in Baltimore, met Garrison Commander Col. Edward C. Rothstein and suggested that the museum and Fort Meade form a partnership to support recreational activities for military families.

Whelley said she was "impressed with the colonel's commitment to reach out to Baltimore City to forge partnerships with the people who live and work at Fort Meade."

Michelle Winner, vice president of marketing for the museum, said the partnership is a great opportunity for the museum to honor service members and their families for their sacrifice.

"Port Discovery Children's Museum believes that all children should have the opportunity to imagine, learn, play and grow in a safe and nurturing environment," Winner said. "We understand how difficult it may be for children who have a parent, caregiver or family member who is deployed or has been wounded in combat, and we are committed to providing our military families with a joyful and happy experience."

The museum recently offered Salute To Troops, a promotion for active-duty service members and veterans with valid military identification who received free admission to the museum for themselves and a guest, plus a 10 percent discount at the museum's gift shop. The promotion began March 1 and ended Monday.

The museum now offers a $2 discount off the general admission price of $13.95 for all service members and their family members.

According to Forbes Magazine, Port Discovery is one of the country's top 12 children's museums out of about 325.

More than 250,000 people visit Port Discovery each year, primarily from Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia and Pennsylvania.

The museum's mission is to connect purposeful play and learning for children from birth to age 10, according to its website.

Jennifer Bergantz, the museum's education and community enrichment liaison, said the museum encourages exploration, problem-solving skills and creativity in youngsters.

Port Discovery features a wide range of exhibits and activities including Adventure Expeditions, which takes children to Egypt in the 1920s to decipher hieroglyphics and find clues to locate a pharaoh's lost tomb; Miss Perception's Mystery House, where children solve the case of the missing Baffeld family; Studio Workshop, an art studio where children express their creativity; Wonders of Water, an exhibit that helps children understand human interactions with water; and Tiny's Diner, a 1950s-style diner where youngsters can "cook" and serve food to their parents.

A highlight is KidsWorks, a three-story urban tree house for children to climb, crawl and jump. The treehouse includes rope bridges, a climbing wall, tumbling mat and two-story slide.

Winner said the museum also offers several activities that may interest military families.

For example, Discovery Days are offered for four days in May and in November, with one day dedicated to children with autism. The activity begins on the second Tuesday of the month and runs for four consecutive days, culminating in a "Be A Part of the Art" festival on Friday.

During Discovery Days, the museum reduces the lighting and exhibit sounds "to help create a calmer, softer environment," Winner said.

For the event, the museum does not book mainstream school groups, although the general public may attend.

All of the museum's exhibits during Discovery Days are available to children attending the event.

Community partners such as the Kennedy Krieger Institute, which is dedicated to improving the lives of children with pediatric developmental disabilities, and Johns Hopkins University offer programs for children and resources for parents.

All eligible Maryland school students are admitted at no charge during Discovery Days.

Terrific Tuesdays are designed to integrate school groups with special needs children and mainstream school groups in an inclusive environment. The museum's programs can be adjusted to accommodate special needs children.

Every Friday in September, the museum features special science programs that home-schooled children can enjoy. The programs align with the state of Maryland's education curriculum, which is outlined in the museum's educators guide. Home-school parents can download the guide on the museum's website.

The museum, which regularly posts new activities and exhibits on the Fort Meade Facebook page, plans to offer another Salute To Troops promotion in the fall.

"We're very passionate about supporting the military," Winner said.

For more information, visit the Port Discovery Children's Museum website at www.portdiscovery.org.

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