As if we needed another reason to visit the Yards Park, the Living Classrooms Foundation has given us a good one: Science + You, a fun and engaging free exhibit that gives children the opportunity to be a “scientist for a day.” Located in the Foundry Lofts, just steps from the riverfront recreational space, the exhibit opens to the public today and will welcome curious visitors through most of the summer.
Sasha and I had a chance to get a sneak peek yesterday along with school groups who were invited to test it out. From the moment we walked in, she was intrigued. Designed for ages 3-8, Science + You is set up like a child-size lab with stations featuring hands-on activities and equipment that emulate processes scientists use in a real lab.
They start by pretending to wash their hands, then roam freely among areas where they can do some healthy cooking, use a glove box to handle equipment, study objects under a microscope, and much more. And along the way, the displays explore scientific concepts and educate about things like germs, disease, and health.
Hosted by Living Classrooms of the National Capital Region, Science + You was created collaboratively by Kohl Children’s Museum in Chicago and scientists from the global health care company Abbott. It was designed to spark an interest in science among kids through fun, interactive displays and hands-on experiments.
During our visit, I had a chance to chat with Sheridan Turner, CEO and President of Kohl Children’s Museum. She explained one of the aims of the exhibit is to bring more focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education, as research has shown that introducing kids to science at an early age is critical to inspiring future interest in science.
Watching Sasha and the other kids dart excitedly from station to station, it was evident that the design is successful. The displays are presented with elements that attract and engage kids — the concept of fighting antibodies is demonstrated through a ball game, glitter swirls and sparkles in the mixing station, puzzle pieces help depict a healthy body. Of course, some explanation from an adult should accompany most of it, but the important part, the initial interest, is sparked by the exhibit alone.
Oh, did I mention that there are little lab coats for kids to wear, too? Unfortunately, they were all in use by the time we arrived — it seemed that all of the kids wanted to be a “scientist for a day.”
Science + You will be on exhibit May 9 – August 5 at the Foundry Lofts – 301 Tingey Street SE. Public hours are 12:30-4pm Tuesday – Friday, and 10am – 4pm Saturday & Sunday. Admission is free.