She stared at the spiral conveyor belt as it transported the colorful balls up to the starting point. Her hand gripped the rope with excitement. Slowly she pulled the rope and one by one each ball went a different direction. They spun, swirled, rolled and every so often would hit a bell demonstrating a kinetic audio reaction.
This was one of her favorite exhibits at the Jasmine Moran Children's Museum.
For 26 years the Children's Museum has been providing a fun and interesting environment for the Seminole community and beyond.
"Jasmine Moran is a place where I say children of all ages learn to play and play to learn," CEO and President of the museum Marci Donaho said. "It is 42,000 square feet indoors of interactive exhibits all based on career opportunities so that when children step into the art room or court room or hospital area they may think of themselves as being in that career and it might plant a seed as to what they might want to be when they grow up."
The idea for the Children's Museum came about in October of 1988 when a group of young mothers and educators met to discuss a new opportunity for the community.
"After we went through the presentation of a film that was taken in another children's museum in Michigan we decided that we wanted to do something similar to that in Seminole," Donaho said.
Donaho, who was an educator at the time, was made board president of the museum and said she left the classroom eight years later to be the Children's Museum's President and CEO full time.
Jasmine Moran officially opened in January of 1993 and Donaho said over time the museum has adapted to remain popular with visitors.
"We are now going toward more of a professional look and getting designers and fabricators involved in the exhibit process," she said. "What worked 26 years ago doesn't work as well today."
Donaho explained over the years the visitation flow has fluctuated but remains consistent as many people from all 50 states and 86 countries enjoy visiting the museum.
"Our museum doesn't have a lot of what I would call IT exhibits it's back to just plain," Donaho said.
It's for this reason the CEO believes people love the museum. Children really have a chance to play as do their parents.
"Just play — whether it's in the art room or building something in our construction area, just play — and what I love about it is the parents get involved with playing with the kids. That to me is very important," she said.
The museum is named after resident and wife, Jasmine Moran who was part of the original team that inspired the idea.
According to Donaho, Jasmine Moran has been beloved for so many years by parents and their children.
The CEO said the best aspect of running the museum is interacting with visitors, specifically those whose minds she once molded.
"I taught for 26-28 years and one of my greatest thrills in this museum is when my kids bring their kids to play. I love it. I love it...," she said.
In addition to Jasmine Moran being fun, the museum is also a great place for children to become educated on various topics.
"I homeschool so it's kind of special thing for them. It combines science with just getting their imagination going," mother of three Adrianne Pope said.
There are a multitude of exhibits in which children and parents can interact with.
"We have one area that's designed just for tinkering where kids can can play with tinker toys...an art room, a court room, a TV studio, a construction site and a fire station," Donaho said.
She explained they also recently added a new water feature and oil rig exhibit to the museum.
A few of Donaho's favorite exhibits are the Handicapable Exhibit and the Audio Kinetic Exhibit which is a series of chain reactions.
Donaho said Jasmine Moran is unique in that it makes the community a better place and there are not many of its kind.
"It's been a great addition to Seminole. It adds to the quality of life. It is also used in economic development...," she said. "Not very small town Americas have a children's museum to the capacity that we have."
Encouraging, enlightening and imagination are three words Donaho would use to describe Jasmine Moran.
"We've had stories of people who have been here who have told us because of the courtroom or because of the medical exhibit, their child went into that field because they put on the judge's robe or they put on the medical lab coat and it gave them a sense of 'Gee I might want to do this when I grow up,"' she said.
The CEO said in the future she hopes to continue to grow and they're looking at adding a new CSI exhibit and enhancements to the handicapable exhibit.
Tickets for the Children's Museum are $10 unless one is under the age of two and there are discounts for senior citizens and military families.