The Hands-On Science Center is hosting a community craft fair Sunday, Aug. 25, to raise funds for the construction of a new sensory room at the center. A sensory room is designed to give children with special needs, such as autism, a place where they will feel comfortable and learn.

There is a real need, according to center volunteer Stasha Mayes, for a place where special needs children can learn in the community. While businesses such as Chucky E. Cheese have sensory days or events for these children, there is not a focused time or place to facilitate learning in particular.

At the science center, the sensory room would allow children to experience everything that the center has to offer, but without potentially anxiety-inducing environmental factors such as loud noises or flashing lights. The room would be a quiet place where education can happen without children being overwhelmed.

According to Mayes, the facility will include a book center with bean bags for reading and a general learning center. There would be a focus on helping children with special needs to be educated in a way that works for them.

The project has been underway for a few months and the center hopes to open the room in mid- to late September. Mayes says the scope of the completed room will be dependent on the amount of money the center is able to raise, so she encourages anyone who is interested in helping to get in touch.

For the community craft fair, the science center is looking for participation from artists, crafters and small businesses and is accepting applications from vendors.  Apply in person at the Hands-On Science Center or by calling Stasha Mayes at 931-952-1622 or Taryn Sjoshrom at 931-434-1469.

All proceeds from the event, which will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the 25th, will go toward the sensory room’s construction.

Mayes said she believes this will be the first such sensory room in Middle Tennessee.

Stetson Snead can be reached via email at