Tri-Cities region becoming "STEMcation" destination - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Tri-Cities region becoming "STEMcation" destination

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KENNEWICK, WA - You've probably heard of a 'stay-cation' but what about a STEMcation? Probably not. It's a play on words we've made up, involving science, technology, engineering, math, and a vacation. 

"Well, this is new for us," said Visit Tri-Cities President and CEO, Kris Watkins.

Science tourism. New, certainly but not novel. It was kind of an ah-ha moment.

"We've been able to produce a great experience for people wanting to come over for a STEM break in the Tri-Cities region," said Watkins.

Most recently, the Manhattan National Historical Park became a reality, a century-old Einstein prediction confirmed at the LIGO Hanford Observatory, and...

"The Bechtel National Planetarium, the MCBONES mammoth dig over in Coyote Canyon, then you have the Hanford REACH Interpretive Center," said Watkins. 

The REACH is where we find a young mother of three, Erin McKibben.

"We've been here for about an hour... And we could probably stay here for an hour or two, if it were up to my kids."

Erin's daughter Keira first went to the REACH as a field trip with her local school.

"I've been telling my mom all about it, and I really loved it. So mom said we could go here for spring break," said Keira.

"It's just been wonderful for all the kids. Even if they can't read, they're able to touch the artifacts, and are able to really interact with it," said Erin.

This little family just might check out the Planetarium next and Keira's already signed up for a MCBONES mammoth dig tour later this month. Lucky for her, it's all right in her backyard. However, by next spring break, Visit Tri-Cities is hoping people come from all over the nation, even the world.

"I believe we're going to be one of the first in the northwest to actually have a STEM tourism experience. So you might say, we're going to be able to own it," said Watkins.