INTERVIEW WITH ANYAH BRITTAIN MARTINEZ OF THE EXPLORIUM

 Photo by Melissa Gill

Photo by Melissa Gill

Did y'all know there's an awesome event at Oak St. Drafthouse on Monday called Sip'nScience? Even better, it benefits a hopeful children's museum called The Explorium. We've previously highlighted fundraising efforts of The Explorium through our crowdfunding column. We're super pumped about Sip'nScience, though. What beats adult and kid-friendly games with food trucks in close proximity? Anyway, we recently chatted with the unofficial director and co-founder of The Explorium, Anyah Brittain Martinez, about Sip'nScience and her hopes and dreams for The Explorium. Read on for more!


WDDI: Hey Anyah! Tell us a little about yourself!

I moved here in 1996 as a Sophomore to attend UNT. My husband and I met in high school, so he moved out the following year. We got married while in college, still managed to finish on the four year track, and fell in love with Denton while attending school.

I got my first job at TWU, he started working as a teacher with Denton ISD,and gradually we became more involved in the community. Our jobs and our church made it easy to find ways to get plugged in. By the time our twins were born, we’d both finished grad school, moved up in our jobs, and I’d completed Leadership Denton and served on the Library Board. I used to do a presentation to the freshmen at TWU called “Denton: Not just a DENT ON the map” because I loved our town and wanted them to love it too. I have a friend that says I’m the Denton encyclopedia. I truly truly love Denton.

 

What is The Explorium and what is your affiliation with it?

A few months after our third child was born I started to really think and pray about what God wanted me to do with my time when the twins started school. I’m the type that needs a project to work on but I also wanted to be available to serve in the community, volunteer at the boys’ school, and still fill the role of a work at home mom and give Creed the same amount of attention our twins had when they were little. One day I was running and this idea just hit me and I thought, “I’m going to start a children’s museum right here in Denton!” I began doing lots of homework, joined the ACM and got their startup manual, filed all the necessary paperwork to establish ourselves, got some friends together to form our first board of directors and create a logo, asked a buddy for some seed money, and we got started. That was two years ago this month. Unofficially I’m the Director and Founder.

 

How much funds are actually needed in order to get this thing off the ground?

There really isn’t a set dollar amount. One major hangup is waiting for our 501c3 status to be approved by the IRS. We applied over a year ago, and until we hear from them, we cannot access the many grants that are available for a project like this. So we are doing what we can in terms of small-scale fundraising, like our popular toy and book swap, selling our t-shirts (which were sponsored), and our upcoming charity Monday at Oak Street Draft House.  Based on the metrics reports and information provided through our membership with the Association of Children’s Museums, our initial operating budget for Explorium Denton will be funded half through grants and donations, and half through memberships/admissions, rental revenues, etc.

 

What are some of your favorite activities to do with your children around Denton?

 Photo by Melissa Gill

Photo by Melissa Gill

I’m a huge fan and supporter of our library system. Many of the events and activities they provide are free to the community, which is very attractive to a single income family like ours. In the summer, we usually go to the Wednesday concerts on the square and meet friends for a picnic. We go bike riding and running together almost daily in the spring and summer. In the summer we stop at the Denton Community Market most Saturdays. My boys love going to Minifigs, Bricks, and More to play with Legos. Sometimes we go to a movie but we really enjoy being out and about and spending time with friends. Year-round we spend a lot of time at parks, we’re involved in Denton Boys Baseball, Denton Soccer Association, and attend lots of DISD athletics and fine arts events. Fall is rife with festivals all around town and we hit them all. I take them on dates to get hot chocolate at Zera or cinnamon rolls at Royal’s or let them choose something fun and funky with their allowance from one of the many thrift stores in town. My children come with me pretty much everywhere I go. That’s one thing about Denton that I love, being able to take my boys on adventures as we take advantage of myriad  teachable moments in our community.


Who dreamed up Sip’nScience?

I can’t take credit for that! Alana Presley and Tara Mills, two of our board members, dreamed that up while I was out of town! We wanted a way to make this a super family friendly event, with activities that adults would enjoy as well. Cliff Caster created the flier.

The reality is, we need a building, at least a temporary location, before we can start building exhibits, and that’s going to take a lot of money.
— Anyah Brittain Martinez

 

Is Sip’nScience more for adults or children?

Both! It’ll be family friendly from 4-8. All the activities are for both children and adults, there will be a raffle for a Kindle, a drawing for a t-shirt, and of course family-friendly food trucks will be on site for everyone’s enjoyment. We are thankful to John Williams and his staff,  Waffle Wagon, and Lean Machine, for agreeing to support our project!

 

What are some of the activities that you would like to have at The Explorium?

There is not enough room in your blog for this, trust me! However, I will say that every exhibit will be hands-on, and we are targeting the ages 0-12. It will be a fun and educational place for everyone. There will be tie-ins to Denton: for example I’d love to get Peterbilt to sponsor an exhibit where you could take apart and build a small engine; or a music area tied into the college of music at UNT; or some sort of cool gymnastics area tied into TWU.

 

What would your dream location for The Explorium be?

……..Oh, sorry, did I drool get drool on you? Honestly there are so many places this project would thrive. I’ve been drooling over several vacant/available buildings for the past two years, none of which I can seem to get my hands on until we establish our 501c3. We would ideally repurpose an old vacant building somewhere near downtown. While I have my eye on several places, I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch. Anyone reading this have a building they’d like to give me?

 

What can we, as citizens, do to help get The Explorium off the ground?

Stop by and see us at our events. Introduce yourself. I’m big on cultivating relationships. Just meeting poeple who echo that thought “this is such a great idea” helps build momentum and keeps me motivated. We’ll be at the Denton Community Market the third Saturday of each month April through November. We’ll be at the Redbud Festival, and have been invited to demonstrate with various groups like the American Heritage Girls.  Currently we have an ongoing gofundme campaign, which seems to be the easiest thing for most people. Just go online and contribute any dollar amount. Support our fundraisers like our toy swap, and our charity nights at local places like OSDH. Buy a t-shirt (they’ll soon be available at Noles General Store, or you can get one directly from me). Write a check and send it to PO Box  52145 Denton, Texas 76206. Just know that your contribution will not be tax deductible at this time.  A HUGE boon would be if someone would agree to be a fiscal sponsor, and that way we could expedite our IRS paperwork and get approved quickly, and start doing large-scale fundraising and grantwriting right away. Like us on facebook. Follow us on twitter. Word of mouth goes a long way in our community. The right person may just catch wind of our project and decide to get involved even in another community.

 

What’s your favorite knock knock joke?

Keep in mind I’m a mother to two six-year-old boys:

Will you remember me this afternoon?

Yes.

Will you remember me tomorrow?

Yes.

Will you remember me next week?

Yes.

Will you remember me next year?

Yes.
Knock knock.

Who’s there?

You forgot me already?!?!?