June 1, 2022, marks a milestone 10th anniversary for Discovery Lab's Executive Director/CEO Raymond J. Vandiver, Ph.D. In 2007, a group of moms in a playroom discussed the need for a children's museum in Tulsa. Tulsa Children's Museum/Discovery Lab was born and upon opening, Vandiver was named Executive Director at the original location in Owen Park.
When asked about his past 10 years at the Lab, he stated that resilience and grit are key—recovering quickly when things get tough, maintaining strength of character, and sticking with your future day in and day out. Discovery Lab’s mission of inspiring children, connecting families, and building community through exploration, programming, exhibits, and play is something that Vandiver values and keeps close to his heart in his day-to-day home and work life.
In 2013, Discovery Lab had 20 staff members. Now as a 57,000-square-foot world-class facility in Gathering Place park, the museum has more than 70 employees. The museum projects to impact over 300,000 children and families each year at the new site.
Discovery Lab is an educational resource for Tulsa, not only as a field trip destination for area schools and organizations but also as a provider of outreach museum classes within the community. Exhibits and programming encourage the development of executive function and process skills, including critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, collaboration, creativity, and innovation. Educational content focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (STEAM), health and wellness, and complements and supplements the current school curriculum. Studies show that hands-on, informal learning experiences, like those delivered by Discovery Lab, impact reading readiness and school success.