Project Summary

Spark a child’s curiosity about the natural world. Invest in Bill’s Backyard, designed to encourage a spirit of exploration, a lifelong love of science, and a commitment to environmental stewardship.

Project Description


Spark A Child's Curiosity About The Natural World

Invest in Bill’s Backyard, an outdoor play space at Children's Discovery Museum designed to encourage a spirit of exploration and a love of science.

Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose

WOW, thanks to our many supporters from the community, this online campaign for Bill’s Backyard has been extremely fast-paced, with each day of giving more thrilling than the last! We are overjoyed to report that the campaign has already blasted far beyond our goal. INCREDIBLE!!

A few weeks ago, we asked for your partnership as we prepare to burst forth beyond our Museum’s iconic purple walls and into the outdoors, with the kind of hands-on experiences, interactive learning, and opportunities for discovery that our Museum is known for. Shovels are ready to start moving dirt to make way for Bill's Backyard, a 27,500 sq. ft. outdoor play space that will be a bridge to nature for our community's children and families.

We're thrilled that our request for support clearly resonates with members of our community. In the Comments section, you can read what supporters have shared about their enthusiasm for our vision of an outdoor nature education space. Thanks to all of you from the bottom of our hearts! Because so many of you have been enthusiastic and generous, we want to share more deeply about our big dreams for this space, in the hopes that you will want to help us raise even more resources to build this amazing exhibit space. Our Children's Discovery Museum team  and partners are excited that our dreams for the children of our community are shared so deeply by so many.

Fundraising Progress To Date

Our fundraising goal for the entire Bill's Backyard Project is $2.5 million. That’s a big number!

Progress to Date

Did you know that studies show many kids today no longer have opportunities to play independently outdoors—in the woods, in the hills, beside a creek? We envision creating an immersive explore-the-outdoors environment for our regions’ nature-starved urban and suburban children. Our plan for development of 27,500 sq. ft.  of outdoor space involves building a real experience of nature in a safe enclosed environment appropriate for very young children under 10 years old. 

Our plan to connect families to the natural world includes planting Trees, constructing a Dry Creekbed, and building a Mini-Mountain. All of these elements are thoughtfully designed for kids' interactive engagement. The plan for Bill’s Backyard includes nature-based hands-on activity spaces such as a Pebble Dig Pit, and a Mandala Garden showcasing different types of plants such as vegetables and herbs, flowers, and native species so kids can learn about and appreciate the many benefits of the natural world. The budget for Bill’s Backyard also includes essential infrastructure costs like walkways, irrigation, and lighting, and environmental sustainability demonstration components geared to inspire family backyard projects, including a water catchment system, solar panels, a rain garden and xeriscape landscaping features. Bill’s Backyard will be a safe space, enclosed by a beautiful see-through Art Fence displaying the names of our campaign supporters.

We’ve already got some powerhouse partners that are committed to supporting the project, but it takes everyone. Remember, it’s the ongoing groundswell of community support from people like you that keeps the momentum going.

The overall Bill’s Backyard project is on track with seed support from Agilent Technologies Foundation, and a significant contribution from the City of San Jose. We also recently received the great news that Bill’s Backyard will receive major support from California’s Coastal Conservancy. We are proud that this environmental protection agency understands the importance of early nature experiences as a foundation for future environmental stewardship. Scroll down to learn more about our Project Partners.

Thanks to the strong community support through this online campaign, the amazing kid-friendly Rock Climbing Wall will be one of the many nature play features in Bill's Backyard! The Rock Climbing Wall is a natural-looking rock feature built at kid-scale, making it possible for very young children to scramble, play, and practice climbing skills.  Our Stretch Goals will enable us to include many more nature experiences in Bill’s Backyard. The more money that’s raised, the more awesome outdoor adventures kids will  be able to experience.

Research Shows Access To Nature Is Essential

For more than 20 years, the Museum has been successfully delivering environmental education programs that now serve 1,000 students and teachers every year in schools throughout our community.

Rock Climbing Wallphoto courtesy of Henrik Betnér, cropped from original.

Bill’s Backyard will elevate the Museum's environmental education to a grander scale with exhibits and programs that reach 350,000 visitors each year. Children will gain memorable experiences playing outdoors in a natural environment with trees, plants, wildlife, dirt, and other natural elements. For example, the Rock Climbing Wall is one of many exploration features in Bill's Backyard

Put Your Stake In The Ground

For every $250 you donate, you or your designee will be personally recognized with a nameplate on one of the iron stakes that will surround Bill's Backyard.

Fence Design

Our picturesque see-through fence will be made of hundreds of iron stakes that form a heartfelt community embrace expressing our care for the children of our community. You’ll feel proud knowing you’ve helped spark curiosity and love of nature in the next generation of scientists, environmentalists, and engineers.

Donate Today

With your contribution of $250 or more, you’ll also receive a Family 4-Pack for a day of fun at the Museum!

Bill's Backyard

As our thanks to you, once the campaign closes on December 27, 2015, you will receive a one year Explorers Circle membership including unlimited visits to Children’s Discovery Museum. You can choose whether to use the Family 4-Pack and the membership for your own family, or whether you want to give one or both as gifts. It’s up to you. 

Meet Bill

By now you’re probably wondering “Who is Bill, and why is this cool outdoor playland named for him?”

Bill Sullivan

Bill’s Backyard is named in honor of Bill Sullivan, longtime CEO of Agilent Technologies. For many years, Bill has been a faithful and visionary champion of the Museum, serving as Board Chair and foremost contributor to the annual Legacy for Children Award. As a tribute to Bill upon his retirement,  Agilent Technologies has provided seed funding for our outdoor nature and science education center.  

Bill’s Backyard will be a dynamic tribute to Bill Sullivan’s leadership in supporting our community’s children and his enduring commitment to science education. Bill’s influence on the success of Children’s Discovery Museum will be remembered daily as children and families enjoy immersive outdoor play experiences and intriguing demonstration exhibits that inspire science learning.

Meet Our Team

We want to introduce you to our remarkably talented and experienced team of project partners

Bill's Backyard TeamMark, Will, Marilee, Alicia, Jenni, JeNae, Brittany, Biret, and Rich

Team members include Children’s Discovery Museum’s in-house exhibit development team pictured above, with concept and development support from:

Bill’s Backyard is a major undertaking for our community’s children. Key players in supporting its development and infrastructure include the City of San Jose, the Coastal Conservancy, the Open Space Authority, and the County of Santa Clara.

Partner Logos

Bill's Backyard Timeline

 Bill's Backyard Site

Project Timeline

Join Us

Invest in a lifelong love of nature and commitment to environmental stewardship

Help create an exceptional and inspiring outdoor space just for kids.  

We invite you to become a proud contributor, with an inscribed stake in our Art Fence hugging Bill's Backyard as a lasting tribute to your community spirit. Put your stake in the ground and donate today!

Bill's Backyard


Learn more about Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose at



Help Build a 27,500 Sq. Ft. Outd...

Target Raise $10,000
Funded $32,090
Supporters 116
Launched 07/21/2016
Time Left Closed
Funding Type All-or-Nothing

Contribute $1,000 or more

FOUR iron stakes in the Art Fence when Bill’s Backyard opens in 2017 (YOUR CHOICE OF FOUR NAMES)

Contribute $500 or more

TWO iron stakes in the Art Fence when Bill’s Backyard opens in 2017 (YOUR CHOICE OF TWO NAMES)

Contribute $250 or more

YOUR NAME on an iron stake in the Art Fence when Bill’s Backyard opens in 2017 Early Bird reward when you pledge in December: • A Family Four Packs of tickets ($52 value) When the campaign meets its goal by December 27, 2015, you will receive: • A one-year Explorers Circle membership to the Museum

Contribute $10 or more

Thank you for joining the Bill’s Backyard Campaign--every dollar counts! As our thanks to you, you’ll get the link to our heartwarming Thank You Video, expressing gratitude from the children and families who enjoy and benefit from the interactive exhibits at Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose.

San Jose
San Jose, California View Location