May 18, 2017

Traveling opens doors to great lessons, and the doors to the Central Wyoming Center for Art, Technology and Science (CATS) are in the heart of Wyoming’s Wind River Country.

The facility’s doors opened to curious minds of all ages in 2014, a testament to the community of Riverton. Nance Shelsta, one of the museum’s founders, attributes everything that lies behind those doors to people who call Riverton home.

“It’s been a community effort and variety of individuals from the community have come forth to build exhibits, do the artwork, and help continue to support the exhibits,” she glowed.

Nance rattled off a long list of locals who have created musical displays, built interactive exhibits, painted, and more.

These custom-designed contributions are housed in the nine learning areas that comprise CATS. The often-changing exhibits are all built on the foundational belief that children learn through play.

“The whole focus is on unstructured play,” Shelsta explained. “Kids find things that interest them and there’s not a right or wrong way to do it.”

This approach encourages creative and critical thinking skills.

On top of that, CATS invites parents and guardians. The interaction between children and adults builds language skills and ensures fun for all, particularly mid-road trip through the Wild West of Wyoming.

Adults and families are such an essential element of the CATS experience that Shelsta had a bit of trouble defining which age group could enjoy the experience more. Though most experiences are designed for pre-school and early elementary students, some exhibits are more appropriate for older elementary-age children and beyond, like the new circuitry systems.

“The [gravity wall] and gear wall I’ve seen a lot of dads spend a lot of time at,” Shelsta laughed, adding that a college kid came in one day and told her he could spend all day at the marble drop exhibit.

CATS is located off Main Street in Riverton, worth the diversion from your route through Wind River Country. Shelsta has no trouble imagining its programs enriching a family vacation.

“You could easily spend 30 mins to an hour—the kids would have a good time and parents would have a respite from having them in car seats and seatbelts,” Shelsta described.

“I just think it’s a wonderful family venue.”

Stop by and stretch your legs and mind with your family, too: 120 S 3rd Street in Riverton.

Posted in Notes From the Field