Sanford Underground Research Facility sponsors new water experience at Washington Pavilion

The exhibit will include interactive and educational features to help children learn about the phases of water, while exploring how water moves in aqueducts, river channels, squirt guns and more

Pavilion water exhibit 1.jpg
A child watches water vapor in an exhibit similar to one opening in June at the Kirby Science Center in the Washington Pavilion in Sioux Falls.
Contributed / Washington Pavilion

SIOUX FALLS — The Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) is sponsoring a new immersive water exhibit at the Washington Pavilion’s Kirby Science Discovery Center, the organization announced Thursday, May 25.

With $80,000 over a five-year period, the SURF — which is managed by the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority — has agreed to provide funding for the water experience, which will include interactive, colorful and educational features to help children learn about the phases of water through fog pipes, fog mushrooms and rain clouds. Children also will explore how water moves through aqueducts, conveyors, faucets, river channels, squirt guns, whirlpools, fountains and more

Room to Grow upgrade will be funded through a donation from the estate of Patricia Knutson.

“The Sanford Underground Research Facility is proud to have a new partnership with the Washington Pavilion—one of South Dakota’s premier science education and outreach centers. We look forward to the opportunity to share the excitement of the Sanford Underground Research Facility with our neighbors in eastern South Dakota,” said Mike Headley, executive director of the South Dakota Science and Technology Authority and lab director at the SURF.

In a news release, the Washington Pavilion said the sponsorship will create a partnership between the two organizations to provide programming opportunities for young learners. The SURF’s mission is to support the advancement of world-class science programs, and the partnership is just one example of the organization’s K-12 outreach programs.

“We are so grateful for the Sanford Underground Research Facility’s investment in the Kirby Science Discovery Center and excited to see children using this fun space later this summer,” says Kerri DeGraff, COO of Washington Pavilion Management. “This exhibit will be unique to our museum and offer both hands-on learning and full-on joy to those who come here.”


Construction is currently underway to make physical improvements in the space, including new flooring, paint, wall graphics and the physical exhibit. The Washington Pavilion has engaged Boss Display to design the exhibit.

As part of the sponsorship, a day of free admission to the Kirby Science Discovery Center as well as the Visual Arts Center will be held following the opening of the water exhibit.

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