STEM Connect KC Partner Profile: Johnson Country Arts & Heritage Center

The Johnson Country Arts & Heritage Center (8788 Metcalf Ave, Overland Park, KS 66212) recently opened a new programming space dedicated to Maker and STEAM programming. The makerspace offers programming for all ages in electronics, hand tools, laser cutting and 3D printing, as an expansion to preexisting making and engineering offerings. 

Arts & Heritage Center — home to the Johnson County Museum featuring the 1950s All-Electric House, KidScape experience and the “Becoming Johnson County” exhibition — operates within the Johnson County Park and Recreation District (JCPRD), which comprehensively offers more than 4,000 educational programs each year. 

The KC STEM team spoke with Ryan Bell, Fine Arts Coordinator for the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center, about the organization’s programming.

How does The Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center align with STE(A)M education?
We have been offering hybrid STEM and arts programs since our building first opened in 2017. With the addition of another program area, we have opened up a new makerspace, which expands our STEAM programming opportunities in areas like electronics, engineering, 3D printing and laser cutting.

In what ways can this organization and its events connect with STE(A)M education in Kansas City? We are working with other STEAM organizations within Johnson County to offer unique and new opportunities in STEAM education, as well as expanding affordable access to STEAM education in the area. 

What are the objectives of current and future events?
We work to provide high-quality, accessible educational opportunities to the public within all of our programming. 

How does STE(A)M education connect to your organization/ industry?
JCPRD already has robust STEM educational programming at Ernie Miller Nature Center, and our Natural Resources Team’s conservation and reclamation efforts in our parks have showcased the beauty and variety of native species of plants. 

Are there any misconceptions about the industry that educators or students might have that you would like them to be aware of?
We have a thriving Fine and Performing Arts program at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center that offers a variety of “standard” arts programs but also works to intersect with other areas of education within JCPRD, such as live animal drawing programs where students learn about the animals at Ernie Miller Nature Center, the history of nature illustration as documentation and learn fundamental drawing skills. 

Is there any general information that people in STEM should know about the organization?
We are happy to partner with other organizations and welcome those opportunities. If we cannot make a partnership work within the Fine and Performing Arts department, we can explore possibilities with our other departments at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center and JCPRD.

To learn more, visit their site at