With the onset of cold weather, it’s time to locate indoor options for kids, especially during the winter school break. There’s the popular indoor play option which caters to physical activity, but children also need to stimulate their minds. The newly opened KID Museum located at Davis Library is a way for families to engage in STEM activities. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The focus behind the KID Museum is to allow children “to become active and caring global citizens.”
STEM mixes with art and cultural appreciation in a hands-on approach. While there were Kindergarten aged children present, the KID Museum is designed for elementary and middle school aged children. Open play features various rotating activities. After you pay admission your hand is stamped allowing you to re-enter the building the same day if you choose. The museum is very informal with the majority of the stations being run by high school students.
What we liked
Definitely the most exciting of all the activities was the Wind Table and Tubes. A small table was filled with crayons, markers, tissue paper, pipe cleaners, paper cone cups, tape, scissors and hole puncher. If you have been to a science museum, you would be familiar with wind-powered tubes.
Our family took bets on whose flying toy would withstand the wind that propelled the “rocket” out of the tube the fastest. Equally fun is the light painting station. Using video and light, people can project their graffiti-like image on a screen.
Draw Bots is a great way to get children interested in robotics, science and engineering. Using a plastic cup, four markers, circuits and batteries, you can create your own bot that draws! My 7 year old didn’t understand how to put the robot together so one of the staff made it. Watch the bot make designs or guide it with your own hands.
In the center of the museum is Creative Coding & Game Design. Using computer software, my daughter chose an image, in this case, a butterfly. She then changed the size, color, added designs and a background. When asked what she wanted to make the butterfly do she replied, “dance.” The final touch was multiplying the butterfly into a 3-D image.
The adult in our party joined the crowd at the Electronics Lab. I didn’t understand the excitement, thinking it was about conductivity, but the activity was simply connecting circuit boards to switches and lights. While no one in my family wanted to experience the Beat Club sonic electronics activity which makes sounds using simple electronic circuits, the sound emanating from the room was pretty neat.
What we didn’t
The Story Lab was closed so I can’t comment on that. Each station has a blurb about the activity including an “imagine” meaning the definition and “make” or how to do it. We began at the Animation Studio to learn about a zoetrope. A zoetrope is a device giving the illusion of motion by turning a cylinder. Using a strip of paper and colored pencils, my daughter and I made a series of designs. The reaction is better if the staff member portrays the image on the computer.
Creating a Guatemalan Kite meant waiting for supplies such as tape, which seemed to be constantly empty. Just as at the wind table station, at the art table, markers were dried up and the color selection was limited. The Textile Studio appeared closed as no staff were present. A bunch of fabric was situated on shelves and a blanket was on the table with a description.
While it said blanket making, pre-cut strips of the blanket were designed for people to make ties to it. I like that they are donating blankets to A Wider Cider for families in need, but I felt that there should have been an emphasis on this because it’s for a worthy cause.
The Build out of the Box activity consisted of a small selection of Legos and Tinkertoys. While it was nice to see giant projects made from cardboard boxes, none were in stock leaving one family disappointed. An idea would be to add Lincoln Logs, Goldie Blox or even large foam blocks to make the space more attractive to visitors.
The Bottom Line
Featured workshops, which cost an additional fee on top of the admission fee are open during regular museum time. Past topics have been paper circuits, learning to solder, making e-textiles, and 3D printing.
Currently, the KID Museum is open to the public Saturdays and Sundays from 10 am to 5 pm. The entrance is located behind Davis Library on the lower level. Admission is high at $8 per person for a slightly underwhelming experience. Still in its infancy, the KID Museum’s future goal is to establish a permanent museum in Montgomery County. If your children are curious about STEM, the KID Museum may be a good choice to spark their imagination and discover something new.
Photos by Kathleen Molloy.