Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Texas unveiled its new state-of-the-art Center of Innovation in Killeen at the grand opening ceremony Friday.

Children, parents and staff filled every inch of the center amazed at the high tech equipment and tools. Some kids couldn’t decide which activity to try first.

“It’s the most funniest place — you can do everything here,” said Brielle Gonzales, 11.

A group of kids played with robotics on the main floor, some budding musicians had a jam session in the music room, while more kids tried their hand at billiards and foosball in the game room.

The innovation center is located in the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Texas Clements Teen Center on East Elms Road.

“We have a big reach covering over 2,600 square miles and almost 12,000 kids a year, and it’s our pleasure to celebrate this new center,” said Jon Charles, executive director of Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Texas.

With support from the Raytheon Company and a $5 million, multi-year partnership with Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the center aims to bring a learning environment that provides a backdrop for science, technology, engineering and math programming for children of military families.

“The center is designed to spark a youth’s interest in STEM and shape the leaders of tomorrow,” said Jim Clark, president and CEO, Boys & Girls Clubs of America. “It is one of six centers opening this year and it will serve as a model for all girls and boys club as we look to infuse STEM programs into them.”

Even the ribbon-cutting ceremony, usually a routine event, took on a scientific and engineering aspect by using a large, standalone model with a series of intricate gears and levers to cut it. Then the crowd poured into the STEM room, which was every kid’s dream room. It has everything from a wall-mounted touch screen, a row of computers and a work table with a dry erase table top.

John Downing, Raytheon representative, said supporting military members and their families is one of the most important parts of the center.

“We feel military children shouldn’t miss the opportunity to study science and technology, so these centers of innovation are our attempt to help children of military families,” said Downing. Mylah and Iris Hale each liked the club but for different reasons.

“To me, it’s very inspirational giving you something to dream about and accomplish,” said Mylah Hale, 13.

But for Iris, the club represented something even more — her future.

“This club gives me a jumpstart on my life,” said Iris Hale, 11.

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