Mebane Foundation Provides Free Fridays at COGNITION

By Jeanna Baxter White

Hadley Clendenin (3) “rides” a John Deere tractor into the agricultural exhibit.

Catherine (3) says she wants to be a doctor. James (5) wants to “build like daddy.” 

COGNITION meets both of their interests,” said their mom, Katie Sanders. “ It offers wonderful hands-on activities and keeps the kids away from screen time which we try to limit. We feel very fortunate that the community chose to invest in this space for our children and future children.” 

“It’s nice to have something in the area for children to do, particularly on rainy days,” said Christiana Day who brought her three-year-old daughter, Hadley.

Kids Can Get Hands-On

Initially built through a community-wide capital campaign, the interactive learning space in downtown Mocksville offers nearly 5,000 square feet of interactive exhibits for ages nine and under.  A farm-to-table theme takes children from the farm to the market to shopping for a balanced plate and preparing it in the food truck. From sewing garments to laying bricks, to investigating slides under the microscope, children get a basic introduction to some of the industries in Davie County.  Downstairs, a hands-on makerspace allows ages 10 and up to craft, tinker, and create. Admission is $5 per person for the upstairs exhibit area, with separate admission for the makerspace.

Sanders and Day represent two of the 11 families who took advantage of the first Free Fridays event held at the museum on June 11th. Sponsored by a grant from the Mebane Foundation, the program allows children ages 0-7 to visit the upstairs museum free of charge. Catherine, James, and Hadley were three of the 25 children who enjoyed the opportunity. 

Free Fridays

“With COVID-19 hitting when it did, basically simultaneously with the opening of COGNITION, we thought a small injection of Foundation funds would ease the financial burden for families, thus “Free Fridays” was born,” said Mebane Foundation President Larry Colbourne. 

“COGNITION’s vision to help children play, learn, and grow through hands-on, interactive experiences complements our mission to support early transformative learning opportunities,” said Colbourne. “Research shows that play is one of the most important aspects of a child’s life. It promotes healthy physical and emotional development as well as critical thinking skills which are essential for success in school and in life.”  

“Free Fridays are a wonderful opportunity for COGNITION to reach more families and show them everything we have to offer,” said Jessica Huyett, COGNITION site coordinator. “There truly is something here for everyone, I even caught some of the parents laughing and playing with the exhibits! Most of the families who took advantage of Free Friday said they would definitely be coming back and telling all their friends as well. We are so grateful for the support of the Mebane Foundation and everything they do to support the children in our community.”

Activities for All Age Groups

The Mebane Foundation also recognizes and supports the value COGNITION offers for older students. 

“COGNITION has partnered with local industry to put on Camp COGNITION: Cardboard Engineering. The camp highlights engineering-type skills and fosters creativity and collaboration. This is a program the Mebane Foundation will throw some support behind as well! I hope the community will take advantage of this cool opportunity”

Huyett explained the two different camps that are being made possible through Ashley Furniture Industries, which donated the tools and supplies. Four one-week sessions will be offered beginning June 21-24. Rising 2nd – 4th graders will get to design and construct a life-sized train set while rising 5th – 8th graders will design and construct a full-size functional mini-golf course. 

“What I want people to understand about Camp COGNITION: Cardboard Engineering is that it isn’t just cutting and duct-taping cardboard together. At camp, we will be following the engineering design process to plan and design what either the train set or mini-golf course will look like. Campers will then learn methods of cutting, bending, and fastening using safe tools to fabricate their design.”

“Critical thinking skills are essential for lifelong success. Our goal is to help children develop those skills while they are young through hands-on problem solving,” explained Cammie Webb, chair of COGNITION’s board of directors.

“This camp is a GREAT opportunity for kids to exercise their brains this summer while having a blast!” added Huyett. “Your children will discover a love for creating, learn basic engineering and design methods, practice teamwork and collaboration, and gain tools for the future. You don’t want to miss out!” 

How to Register for Camps

To register for Camp COGNITION visit or stop by the museum.

COGNITION is open Wednesday-Friday with a morning session from 9:30-11:30 and an afternoon session from 1:30-3:30. There is an additional morning session on Saturdays from 9:30-11:30. The museum is making every effort to keep visitors safe as they begin to reopen. An air scrubber was installed thanks to a donation from Davie Community Foundation and exhibits are thoroughly cleaned after each session.

Advanced registration is required for all activities so check out the calendar page on the website at to reserve your spot.

About COGNITION of Davie

COGNITION is located at 119 N. Salisbury St. next door to the Davie Community Foundation in Mocksville. The museum offers nearly 5,000 square feet of interactive exhibits for ages nine and under, and a hands-on makerspace for crafting, tinkering, and creating for ages 10 and up. Admission is $5 per person for the upstairs exhibit area, with separate admission for the makerspace.

The gears at Cognition are always turning – follow them on Facebook and Instagram for additional events and updates. You can also visit, email, or call (336) 753-1046.