Friday was the start of the pop-up exhibit, Tinker Works, at the Museum of Life and Science and our family had the chance to explore it. Boy, are we glad we did!
The exhibit is 100% kid-proof. Go ahead and touch! Play! Explore! Nothing is off limits. In fact, it’s the opposite.
Elizabeth, the Senior Director for Learning Environments, chatted with me about the desire to create a place that was truly interactive. “This environment is learner driven. It’s about the process and the questions more than the answers.”
What a quote! I loved it! It’s about the questions. Why? How? What if I change this? What if I try this?
The activities are designed for tinkering…and provoking those questions. Use large scale planks to construct a masterpiece in the Building Zone, weave away in Fiber Arts, experiment with electricity in Circuits and build with purpose in Chain Reactions.
The boys spent over an hour tinkering. An hour in one place of the museum! They learned by doing and were fascinated with their results. Physicians and engineers, apply here! Jake, my almost 6-year-old, worked with Elizabeth to create music using his own body as a conductor! Corey, recently 8, spent much of his time weaving a pot holder for me, even helping a little girl’s nanny with the detailed knotting process. Tim, my 43+ year old, worked hard to construct a 2-level cardboard castle. Clearly, this is not just for kids.
Elizabeth told me, “The main purpose is to ‘approach and figure it out’. It’s trial and error with hands on experimentation.” She was so right. We really appreciated her time talking to us but also her time creating such a fabulous pop-up. We each scored it a 10!
My boys, yes, all 3, continued outdoors and packed in a full day of walking, laughing and learning. They loved climbing and running through the gigantic tree house at Hideaway Woods. We did a quick stroll through the farmyard and then explored the Insectarium. Yes. You read that right. INSECTS. I love how kids can hop on to the microscopes to take closer looks at body parts or natural environments.
**Side note: Seriously, why are cockroaches always in museums? I worked hard to get rid of them in my tiny little DC apartment, now they are glorified in exhibits everywhere!
One of my favorite outside exhibits was Catch the Wind. How totally cool, the boys spent a long time here too! The concept and understanding of wind is complex. It’s a force of nature we can often feel, but not fully grasp. We had a chance to sail boats adjusting the direction and opening and closing the sails to speed the boats up or slow them down. And then launching air rings using air cannons was a huge hit. Directing the cannons onto shimmering tiles helped us see how the strength of our force affected the size of the impact. Directing them at our faces was pretty fun too!
We said goodbye to the dinosaurs on our walk out and I had to pry Tim away from the fossil dig. The man is a sucker for shark teeth and when he sees a pile of dirt, it’s “Come on kids, sit and sift!”. Please be advised he wanted me to tell everyone he did find a tooth. Since I know you were wondering. Sigh.
I loved this museum and I can’t wait to head back. The grandparents asked for ideas for Christmas gifts and you can bet, I told them a family membership!
Tinker Works is free with admission and taking place until November 20, 2016.