The mission of the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum (AAHOM) is to inspire people to discover the wonder of science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM). Our vision is to be the leader in imaginative and interactive learning experiences. Thanks to a steadfast belief in the power of STEaM when placed in the hands of pre-K through 8th graders, we enjoy one of the highest annual attendance rates at a science center in the State of Michigan: over 290,000 visitors in the last year. We have over 7,750 family members, demonstrating the value they find in our exhibits and programs.
AAHOM opened 34 years ago in an historic firehouse in downtown Ann Arbor and quickly became the cornerstone of informal science education in the community. This was achieved by working with scientists, artists, designers, engineers, and innovators who transferred their extraordinary talents and knowledge into the creation of simple, effective science exhibits that can be understood by children, their families, and audiences of all ages. Following several expansions, AAHOM now occupies 40,000 square feet, with 20,000 devoted to exhibit space for 250+ interactive exhibits designed to promote science discovery and literacy.
Over 5.4 million visitors have visited AAHOM since it opened its doors in 1982, making it one of the most popular science centers in the State of Michigan. In the last fiscal year (October 1, 2014-September 30, 2015), 73% of AAHOM visitors came from five counties in Southeast Michigan as follows: Washtenaw (32.8%), Wayne (22.7.%), Oakland (13.6%), Livingston (3.4%), and Macomb (3.4%). Our education programs align with State of Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations and Next Generation Science Standards. Outreach and Distance Learning programs served 44,823 people off site in FY15. Our temporary, traveling exhibits have been displayed in libraries, community centers, and shopping malls throughout the state.
AAHOM is dedicated to ensuring that our doors are open to all children, regardless of ability to pay admission charges, we offer discounted or free admission to Title One schools, families with patients at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, Ronald McDonald House guests, subsidized housing residents, special needs children and adults, and ESL families. The Discover Science Assistance Fund was established six years ago in response to schools seeking financial assistance for field trips. Schools where 50% or more of the students receive free or reduced lunch are eligible for this funding. We are proud that in FY15 we subsidized visits from 200 schools, serving 13,219 students, thanks to grants and donations to this fund.
We accomplish our mission with 20 full-time and up to 40 part-time staff members, as well as interns, work-study students and volunteers. Volunteers include over 400 community members, professors, high school and college students, and local business people who donate over 5,000 hours of their time annually towards helping AAHOM deliver exceptional programs, events, and exhibits.