Richard de Maledón displays "Owl," a mask created with collaborator Terry Moss for the food bank's Mardi Gras.


As chairman of the Tucson Children Museum's sixth annual Father's Day Golf Tournament, Patrick McLaughlin has found that the museum's hands-on learning philosophy trickles upward.

"My experience in the past has been participating in one event as opposed to a long-term relationship where you see the overall picture of how the organization operates, which has been enlightening and enjoyable," he said.

McLaughlin became involved in the Children's Museum several years ago.

The facility was familiar territory for McLaughlin and his wife, Shelley, who have a daughter, Eilise, 8, and son, Charlie, 6.

"It is my son's favorite place to go in Tucson," he said. "It has been a great experience for both my kids. Charlie, in particular, is a hands-on kid who likes to touch things and learn through trial and error, and there is lots of opportunity to do that in a clean, safe environment."

Charlie's favorite exhibit is Build It, a room featuring blocks, LEGOS, PVC pipes, shapes and a magnetic ball wall on which to build mazes.

"It gives kids an understanding of gravity and direction and the different structures they can build, and opens them up to more creativity. We can't get him out of there," McLaughlin said.

Other exhibits include Mind Your Own Body, a health and wellness room; the recently renovated Whistle Stop Train Room and Pet Vet; Dinosaur World, which features three robotic life-size dinosaurs; and the Ocean Discovery Center highlighting the Sea of Cortez.

The museum hosted more than 102,000 visitors in 2009 and has expanded programs such as Wee Play to provide additional story times, literacy events and activities for children in preschool and kindergarten.

Additionally, Monsoon Mondays Nights, which feature extended museum hours from 4 to 8 p.m. every Monday through Labor Day, have returned. Member & Donor Services Coordinator Ali Gaona said each evening event features a science-themed special guest, with admission $2 per person.

"It is one stop for families to come indoors where it is cool and do something affordable that we usually can't offer to visitors," Gaona said.

The museum also offers $2 admission the first Sunday of each month.

McLaughlin, director of implementation services for Sunquest Information Systems, agreed that the museum's interactive educational opportunities are valuable to the community.

"Our whole community benefits when our kids are in a positive environment like the Children's Museum," he said.

If You Go

What: The Tucson Children's Museum sixth annual Father's Day Golf Tournament.

When: Saturday; 6 a.m. registration; 7 a.m. shotgun start.

Where: Arizona National Golf Club, 9777 E. Sabino Greens Drive.

Cost: $145 per person.

Etc.: Festivities include a barbecue, drinks, a raffle, a "Wildcat Trail Player Card" with discounts at any IRI golf course, and a practice round at Arizona National for the $30 cart fee during the week prior to the tournament. All proceeds benefit Tucson Children's Museum educational programs and improvements to interactive exhibits.

To learn more: For registration or more details, go to or call 792-9985, Ext. 113.

Contact freelance writer Loni Nannini at