Explore. Create. Inspire.

aka Children's Science Center   |   Fairfax, VA   |

Learn how to support this organization


The Children's Science Center's mission is to inspire a love of learning STEM by providing unique opportunities to explore and create. The Children’s Science Center is an interactive Lab where children and families explore STEM through fun and engaging hands-on activities. Additional content is delivered through community programs at schools, libraries, and festivals across Northern Virginia. Northern Virginia Science Center Foundation in partnership with the Science Museum of Virginia, is well underway with Launch the Future, a campaign to build the Northern Virginia Science Center. With substantial public and private support from partners across the region, this project fulfills the long- held vision for a world-class, interactive science center in our region.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Adalene "Nene" Spivy

Main address

3957 Pender Drive Suite 100

Fairfax, VA 22030 USA

Show more contact info



NTEE code info

Science & Technology Museum (A57)

Children's Museums (A52)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2023, 2022 and 2021.
Register now


Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The Northern VA and surrounding DMV region is the largest metropolitan area in the country without an informal science center resource for interactive learning. Generations of the region's children are missing opportunities to see themselves in STEM professionals from their earliest ages. Over half of the net new jobs located in Northern VA require significant STEM skills, yet less than 20% of youth go on to pursue STEM in college. Delivering informal STEM experiences like those offered at a science center can help close the achievement gap, build a pipeline for our future workforce, and inspire the next generation to solve the worlds greatest challenges.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

The Children's Science Center Lab

In 2015, the Center opened the first hands-on facility of its kind for the region with the Lab at Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax, VA. This 5,400 sq. ft center offer in-depth explorations and guided experiences to over 50,000 visitors per year and serves as a platform for a wide variety of hands-on STEM activities and exhibits for families, schools, and organizations. Continuing the Center’s commitment to serving at-risk children and due to generous contributions, each year Title I school groups participate in a Discovery Day field trips, Latina SciGirls, STEM Starter programs at no cost.

During a visit to the Lab, children and their families are actively engaged in hands-on activities guided by STEM Educators. The four themed experience zones at the Lab include the Experiment Bar, where visitors explore physics, chemistry, biology, environmental science, electronics and materials science; the Tinker Shop, which is devoted to making, creating, building, testing and deconstructing; the Discovery Zone, reserved for our young visitor age 2-5 and their caregivers and filled with activities to promote gross and fine-motor coordinator in a fun atmosphere; and the Inspiration Hub area where visitors can explore a variety of interactive exhibits. We see this as an opportunity for children and their families to just have fun freely exploring STEM in an informal and relaxed setting.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

The Center delivers its unique high-quality, hands-on experiences to children and families across the Northern Virginia region at schools, libraries, community centers, and festivals.

Since 2010, the Center has been bringing families together for Family Science Nights at elementary schools throughout Northern Virginia. Family Science Night combines science learning and family bonding in a two-hour program of hands-on activities that are crafted to make STEM learning fun, accessible and relevant to students and their families. A key element of each program is the opportunity for parents or caregivers to self-guide their students through 12 stations. Each station is carefully designed by our education staff to align with and complement the Virginia Standards of Learning for science and math. This popular program reaches over 50 schools in five Virginia jurisdictions every year. Generous funding from foundations and corporate sponsorship enables the Center to deliver this program to select Title I schools at no cost.

Our mobile programs continue to serve over 20,000 visitors each year, and have served over 100,000 students, families, and educators since its inception in 2011.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Where we work

Affiliations & memberships

Association of Science and Technology Centers 2016

American Association of Museums 2017

Association of Children's Museums 2016

Association of Fundraising Professionals 2017

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Numbers of learners engaged in meaningful STEM experiences.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Age groups, Social and economic status

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success


Context Notes

The Science Center continues to engage visitors each year through our community programs and at the Lab.

Number of STEM kits provided to children in need.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Age groups, Social and economic status

Related Program

The Children's Science Center Lab

Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success


Context Notes

With the support of our STEM Kit Sponsors, the Science Center provides hands-on STEM Kits to community non-profits.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Since 2004, the mission and vision of the Children's Science Center has been to inspire a love of learning STEM for all Northern Virginia children and families. We strive every day to deliver meaningful and fun STEM experiences in schools, libraries, community centers across every jurisdiction in our region as well as through our small facility in Fairfax. For tens of thousands of children and their families, attending a program by our team or visiting the Lab in a field-trip may be the only STEM experience they have outside the classroom. Yet, the demand for our programs and capacity limits due to the Lab's size require us to grow into a full-scale science center that can reach over 300,000 visitors annually.

By creating an innovative, world-class science center that sparks the curiosity in all of us, we will also create a vital community resource that can inspire generations of life-long STEM learners. In doing so, we will serve as the catalyst for a robust regional STEM ecosystem in partnership with primary and secondary educators, business and community leaders, families, and the philanthropic community. In 2019, the Science Center reached a significant milestone in this vision with the confirmation of a public-private partnership with the Science Museum of VA to build Northern Virginia's Science Center on donated land in Dulles, VA. The Center's team will continue to inspire thousands today with interactive STEM learning and build tomorrow's innovative and world-class science center that welcomes hundreds of thousands.

The Center is well positioned to meet short term goals based on consistent and growing fundraising capabilities as evidenced in recent years. We continue to benefit from ongoing corporate, foundation and individual support of our mission, vision, short term and long-term objectives. We have also experienced strong earned revenue growth after opening our museum site and offering paid admission and paid programs in addition to scholarship programs for underserved and underrepresented audiences.

As a result of the Center opening its first facility in 2015, the Lab; the professional staff team has expanded to 11 full-time equivalents in marketing, finance, education and programs administration, operations and fundraising. An additional 24 part-time program/content team members manage the seven-day-a-week operations of the Lab and outreach programming.

However, the Center continues to rely on the crucial support of volunteers in all aspects of our operations and in 2019, this included over 650 adult and youth volunteers who donated more than 13,000 hours. This extraordinary cadre of volunteers assist the Center's mission in a variety of ways – alongside staff for operations at the Lab; as outreach educators for 50 Family Science Night events at elementary schools across the region; as STEM-ambassadors for community events including our Summer of Science Celebration held at Fair Oaks Mall and other regional festivals; and in all aspects of the Center's management operations including finance, marketing, fundraising, IT and governance.

Volunteers also serve in a number of advisory and governance roles. The 19-member Board of Directors are a dedicated governing body that advances the organization by setting the long-term strategic direction and monitoring progress towards the Center's goals. The Board upholds its fiduciary responsibility by ensuring donations and revenues are growing, and finances are managed responsibly and ethically. The Center's Advisory Board is comprised of 23 influential community and business leaders who provide periodic strategic and tactical advice to the management team and Board of Directors. The 20-member STEM Advisory Council, which includes master scientists and STEM education specialists, including science coordinators from both Fairfax and Loudoun County public schools systems provide educational advice to ensure accuracy, relevance and impact of the Center's programming.

The Center relies on professional affiliations for networking, identifying best practices, and building community and awareness. These affiliations include the following: Association of Children's Museums (ACM), Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC), American Association of Museums (AAM), and Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). Locally, the Center is a member to various chambers of commerce (Northern VA, Loudoun and Dulles Regional).

- Served 300,000 visitors with interactive STEM experiences since 2010.
- Opened Northern Virginia's first children's science center in 2015, the Children's Science Center Lab.
- Serve 50+ schools across all Northern VA jurisdictions annually. Forty percent of those schools are designated as title I schools served with subsidized programs from contributed support.
- Operated a fiscally sustainable non-profit organization that earns 50% of its revenue through programs and fees and raises 50% through contributed sources annually.
- Confirmed a public-private partnership with the Science Museum of VA (a division of the Commonwealth's Dept of Education) to create Northern Virginia's Science Center.
- Raised 93% of funds needed for capital project as of 4/2022.
- Engaged nationally recognized design team of architects and exhibit design firms to design and build the Northern VA Science Center.
- Built a professional leadership team for the organization.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time



Unlock financial insights by subscribing to our monthly plan.


Unlock nonprofit financial insights that will help you make more informed decisions. Try our monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights?
Learn more about GuideStar Pro.


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.


Board of directors
as of 01/22/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Sumeet Shrivastava

Gary Crum

LHT Ventures, LLC

Jill McNabb

RxEngage Partners

Nene Spivy

Children’s Science Center

Chris Powell

NT Concepts

Corbin Neiberline


Russell P. Reeder

Netrix LLC

Kathleen Coulter

United Bank

Jeff Bentley

Northwest Federal Credit Union

Rob Bertin

Morgan, Lewis, Bockius LLP

Jennifer Bonadio

Lismore Advisors

Jilian Breedan

Engage Federal

Lisa Kimball

The ARC of Loudoun

Sumeet Shrivastava


Bobbie Kilberg

Northern Virginia Technology Council

Paul Leslie

Federal Advisory Partners

Ron Meyer


Craig Ridley

Eleccion and ROUTE, Inc.

Carley Fisher-Maltese, Ph.D

George Mason University

Bruce Roberts


Robert G. Van Hoecke

Regulatory Economics Group LLC

Glenn Davidson


Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/3/2023

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation


No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 08/29/2023

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.