A-Mazing Airways is a clear, pneumatic tube system. A motorized blower creates a powerful air stream in the tube system. The force of the air can move a variety of objects a long distance!
Children can open and close diverter boxes to change the pathways of balls, scarves and other lightweight objects that move through the 100 feet of tubes using the power of air. Playing with air this way allows children and adults to make air “concrete”. Even though air is invisible, A-Mazing Airways also gives children ways to experiment with air in many of the same ways that children experiment with water!
Choose different objects to push into the entry box. Notice where the objects go, where they come out, or how long it took to come out.
Using the knobs on the two diverter boxes, move the flaps to block the flow of air into the tubes, or even change the flow of air as an object goes through the tubes. Ask your child of he or she can predict where the object will come out.
Have your child notice which items travel most quickly through the tubes. Have them notice which objects fall to the ground most quickly.
You can even make a catching game to play with other children!
Creating art of all kinds fosters inventiveness, imagination, bolsters problem solving, enhances critical thinking, cultivates creativity, discipline, cooperation and self-esteem. These skills are essential to successful academic learning.
Art Mart is designed for both clean and messy art experiences. Art Mart engages visitors with the wonders of the creative process!
The Art Quilt offers a fine array of ‘clean’ art experiences. Children can make beautiful designs with the spirographs. Have your child create different shapes, letters or numbers with the red geo-boards.
Toddlers love to experience texture with the Playdoh. And guess what? It’s made fresh in-house! Use the rolling pin to smooth out the soft dough. Make shapes using the cookie cutters.
Creative art projects are available throughout the day at the children’s art table. Projects vary weekly, and they often tie to the museum’s monthly themes. Art aprons are available to wear for those really messy projects!
Aunt Sugar’s Farm
The agricultural roots of the Mid-Michigan region are close to the surface. It is still a thriving agricultural area, whether it is growing sugar beets, potatoes or apples. However, children of today are not as closely connected to growing things as in past generations. Some may believe that sugar comes from a white bag, potatoes from a brown sack and apples from the supermarket.
The Aunt Sugar’s Farm gallery offers children the opportunity to discover the farm to table pathway. As children use their imagination and role-play, they will experience the life of a farmer. They will understand how a farm connects us to our food, and learn the value of nutrition and healthy eating.
Suggest a fruit tree. Have your child collect all of one fruit and have him place all pieces in the pockets on the trees to create a fruit tree.
Have your child sort fruits and vegetables in the market. Ask her if she can name them. Does your child know the difference between a fruit and a vegetable? Ask your child to name of color of each item.
On one side of the farmhouse is a small vegetable and root garden with neat rows for sugar beets or other vegetables that can be picked by children, moved around in small wooden wheelbarrows, and taken to the farm house kitchen for cooking or to the farm-stand for selling.
Don’t forget to spend some time with Milkshake the cow!
The car is our most common form of transportation. From their earliest days, children spend much of their time as passengers or observers of car-related activities. They hear horns honking and smell gasoline as it is pumped. They may even watch as a mechanic lifts the hood to examine and fix a problem.
Car Works invites children to go a step further and become car mechanics! In this car-care center, they’ll play at driving, washing, filling with gas and repairing a variety of small cars. As children role-play and pretend, there is no limit to who they can become or what they can do.
Build a car to race. Use the Duplo blocks and magnetic cars to build a fast car! Place your car at the starting line, push the red button, and lift up the platform to start the race. Check your time at the finish line. Can you rebuild your car to make it faster?
Time your child as she attempts to rotate all four tires on the “real” cars.
Children can wash the cars, or practice traffic safety with various signs and crossing guard costumes. Lead your child to the cross-walk to practice street safety.
The human body has many inter-connected systems. Insides Out offers children an opportunity for active learning, doing, investigating and exploring all the parts of their body. As they examine and touch skeletons and bones, weigh babies, repair teeth, listen to the heart, and test their eyes, they are discovering answers (and questions!) about the very complex human body.
Insides Out is divided into themed “offices:” Ophthalmology, Cardiology, Orthopedics, Pediatrics, and Dental. Help your child notice the differences in each of these areas. Check out an x-ray. Try to identify the bone or tooth structures.
Show your child how to use the scale located in the Pediatrics area.
Assemble the skeleton puzzle.
Help your child test his or her vision by having him or her stand behind the black line on the carpet and read the eye chart.
Play patient! Have your child wear the lab coat and take care of you as the patient. Help your child figure out what’s wrong and help you feel better.
Solar Spot – Inside
The Solar Spot gallery stimulates the curiosity of children and their families to explore energy. This gallery educates children about the power of the sun and how solar power can be used in our daily lives to promote a cleaner planet.
So what do we do? The sustainable dance floor acts as a solar panel substitute. When visitors jump on the floor, energy is created that lights the floor and the energy tower, imitating the energy created when electrons move around on a solar panel. More movement equals more energy! See if your movement can power a cell phone, a computer monitor, or even a refrigerator!
Try rotating the swivel solar panel mounted to the window. Look all around you to see if you notice anything that happens when the panel moves one way or the other.
Families can also learn important facts about renewable solar energy. Practice words and phrases related to solar energy with your children.
Try It offers children a myriad of raw materials to use in an open, safe, unstructured space. As children invent, their curiosity surfaces and they discover the potential within themselves. Their inventions, investigations and explorations open their minds, expand their ideas and allow them to discover skills they never knew they had. Creating, designing, planning and documenting their ideas develops fine and gross motor skills, critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, and increases their understanding of spatial relationships.
At magnet play, encourage your child to make different shapes with the magnets. Can you make a face? A house? A dog?
Encourage your child to move the red laser lights using the mirrors. Move the laser light from one side to the other or from one corner to the other.
See how high you and your child can get the balls to go on the air machine. How does the weight of the ball and amount of airflow affect the height? Can you make a ball to jump from one airway to another?
At the conveyer belt, ask children to predict where the balls will land by placing the basket in that spot.
Have your child find a puppet, located in the basket, and pretend that they are characters. Ask your child questions and have him answer as the puppet.
Water, Water Everywhere
Children experience the force of water on a daily basis. Whether it is a river, a lake or just a small cupful from the kitchen sink, water is an ideal medium for discovery, exploration and experimentation. As children play with and explore the water by directing, diverting or containing it, they experience the processes of science. As they pour, measure, experiment with floating and sinking objects, hypothesize, infer and communicate, they explore science.
Find one object that will sink and one that will float. Show your child that some objects sink and some float. Take turns sinking and floating different water toys. Have your child guess which toys will sink and which will float.
Create a perpetual spinner. Use the white pipes to divert the water into one of our colorful toy spinners.
Build-A-Bridge. Help your child construct a bridge over part of the water table using the white pipes.
Smocks are available to help protect clothes from playful splashes. And hand dryers are conveniently located in the exhibit space.
How do children navigate through a new environment? Once they succeed, how do they learn to do it again? Whether they are finding their way through a new school or the supermarket, the ability to create mental maps is a skill that is used every day.
In aMaze, the low-level, open-topped maze provides colorful ‘pods’ to move through, a myriad of activities to discover, interesting textures to touch and challenging puzzles to ponder. This will offer children the opportunity to enhance their mental mapping and recall skills.
Try a simple scavenger hunt: Have your child locate different things in the maze. Can you find something soft? Something bumpy? Something rough? Something that makes noise?
Or, have your child navigate the maze and return to you. Ask your child to describe the route he or she took.
The desire to cooperate in order to accomplish a goal or complete a task is an important aspect of human nature. Individuals working together, regardless of differences, can make incredible things happen. The Connections gallery will offer activities that demonstrate the importance of working together to form connections and build community.
Teaching children the importance of cooperative learning and allowing them to practice it is vital to their ability to establish reciprocal and satisfying friendships. As children engage in cooperative play and learn to work together, they are developing greater commitment, helpfulness and caring, regardless of their differences. They are developing skills in taking the perspective of others both emotionally and cognitively; developing greater self-esteem; and a greater sense of being valued by other children.
The entry gallery sets the tone for the entire museum visit. The act of entering the Museum is a preview of the excitement, education and engagement that will follow. Visitors’ hands, minds and hearts will be invited to join in the fun of learning and being together.
The Museum’s role as a community connector is emphasized in the Entryway gallery, as individuals, corporations and foundations are acknowledged and showcased in recognition of their contributions to the community and to the Museum.
Wilsonart Surfaces – Professional Photos by Kenn Busch
The following photos were commissioned by Wilsonart, the manufacturer of many of the unique laminate surfaces used on the gallery elements.