The Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia has received federal money to support the development of a year-round “Nature Makers” program for the next two years.

The funds came via a Museums for America grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The program to be developed will link nature-based learning with maker activities that use natural materials, inspired by the “making” and design that occurs in the natural world.

“Nature Makers” aims to address two of the most significant needs in early learning — inspiring early Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) education and connecting children with the outdoors. It is designed to build the foundation for STEM success in school, as well as educating parents about the key role of outdoor exploration in STEM achievement.

“At Hands On, we are passionate about engaging young children, their families and educators in the growing Maker Movement as an accessible way to teach science, art, engineering and math in the early years,” said Patty Belmonte, the Museum’s Executive Director.

“We are thrilled to win another Museums for America award — it is a wonderful acknowledgement of the Museum’s successful work in early STEM learning,” added Hands On Board President Lauren Pitman.