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.
Children learn in many ways through discovery, challenges, creative movement and repetition. Although all are vital, repetition of their experiences is what aids in mapping, memory and recall.
The low-level, open-topped maze will provide: 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.
Creating art of all kinds can foster inventiveness, imagination, bolster problem-solving, enhance critical thinking, cultivate creativity, discipline, cooperation and self-esteem. These skills are essential to successful academic learning.
In addition, art experiences incorporate the study of movement, space, line, shape and color. These experiences in turn provide a solid base for the study of other subjects, such as math and science.
Aunt Sugar’s Farm
The agricultural roots of the Mid-Michigan region are close to the surface. Indeed, 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 will offer children the opportunity to discover where some of the food we eat originates. 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.
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 will invite children to go a step further and become car mechanics. In this diminutive car-care center, they’ll play at driving, washing, filling with gas and repairing a variety of small cars. Simple interactives will show how brakes stop a car and how steering keeps it on the road, thus, providing an early insight into the fascinating world of physics. As children role-play and pretend, there is no limit to who they can become or what they can do.
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.
The human body has many interconnected systems. Each system is incredibly fascinating to examine. This gallery will enable children to learn how these systems work together to sustain life. Whether it’s physical health, mental health or social well being, all areas are vital to our growth and development. Insides Out will invite children to take part in exploring, investigating, and learning about their minds and bodies. This will foster a greater understanding and a sense of pride in themselves and their abilities.
Insides Out will offer children an opportunity for active learning, doing, investigating and exploring all the parts of their body. As they examine and touch skeletons and muscles, weigh babies, brush teeth, explore skin, listen to the heart, test their eyes, track food digestion and learn about mental health, they are discovering answers (and questions!) and will begin to understand the very complex system that is the human body.
Solar Spot – Inside
The sun is the most important source of energy for all life on Earth. The Solar Spot, although it is indoors, will familiarize children with the benefits of solar energy; encourage their curiosity by offering them opportunities to participate in sensory-rich experiences to discover and investigate. As children explore and learn to appreciate the natural world they become stewards of the environment.
The Solar Spot – Indoors stimulates the curiosity of children and their family to explore energy.
There are few environments in the lives of today’s children that offer time and materials for simply ‘messing about’. Yet it is this kind of playful experimentation with no ‘correct’ answers that can lead to true creativity and inventiveness.
Try It! offers children a myriad of raw materials to use in an open, safe, unstructured space. A set of printed ‘challenges’ can be used for directed activities or the materials can be used in uncharted ways. As children invent, their innate 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.
Water, Water Everywhere
Children experience the compelling aspects 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. Children use all of their senses as they investigate the physical and aesthetic properties of water in its many states, forms and uses.
As children play with and explore the aspects of 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.
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.