Lancaster Science Factory’s Mueller Family Outdoor Courtyard opens to the public with environmental activities, art [photos] | Home & Garden

Lancaster County kids have a new place to learn about environmental sustainability and about how they can apply those practices in their own backyards.

The Lancaster Science Factory opened the Mueller Family Outdoor Courtyard on Monday following a sneak peek for member families on Friday, July 22. The 4,000-square-foot courtyard is the first outdoor space at Lancaster Science Factory. The nonprofit science center is located at 454 New Holland Ave. in Lancaster city.

In the courtyard, kids (and adults) can recycle stormwater from Lancaster Science Factory’s roof, or use it to water a rain garden filled with native plants. Guests can also adjust a “Solar Power Flower” to face the sun, so energy from it can power sounds, spinners and lights in the courtyard.

The exhibits sit along a riverbed pathway, which is ADA accessible. Throughout the courtyard, guests will see 10 panels, designed by Pennsylvania College of Art & Design students. The panels educate visitors on environmental sustainability in Lancaster County and on how residents can protect the water and soil in their own backyards.

In addition to the PCA&D students, three local artists have large-scale works on display in the courtyard. A 100-foot mural by Katie Trainer follows the waters of the Conestoga River through Lancaster County on its journey, meeting up with the Susquehanna River before it spills into the Chesapeake Bay in Havre de Grace, Maryland.

Metalsmith Jeremy Waak created a 15-foot-tall kinetic tree made of steel and aluminum that mimics the movements of a willow oak tree. Three walnut slab benches designed by Brian Gish are also in the courtyard, featuring educational laser etchings of the Susquehanna River, Chesapeake Bay and Conestoga River.

The Mueller Family courtyard was made possible by contributions from 125 donors, including retired Lancaster County judge Paul A. Mueller, Jr., during the science center’s Elevate Curiosity campaign. (Mueller’s daughter, Catherine Boyer dedicated Waak’s kinetic tree sculpture to her mother, the late Jane Mueller. )

Admission to the courtyard is included with regular museum tickets, $12 for nonmembers ages 3 and up, free for members and ages 2 and under. The Lancaster Science Factory is open seven days a week (through Labor Day): 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. No advance tickets are required. For more information, visit