Friday, May 9, 2008

Design for Fun -- A Children's Museum Done Right

After Ellen Thompson gave us a lecture and free tickets to the Boston Children's Museum, I went out there to check it out. And I must say, I was extremely impressed by the stuff I saw there!

The museum itself is rather small; I stopped by every exhibit in two and a half hours. But it was so fantastically well designed! Everywhere I looked, everything was colorful, or moving, or you could climb it, or touch it, or play with it!

What are the exhibits that I thought were the awesomest? I didn't take any pictures while I was there, but letsee what we got:

A. Climb
The first exhibit that you see upon entering the museum is the Climb. You can't tell from the picture, but the thing is three stories tall! Little kids climb from platform to platform, high up into the air. It gets them moving, and it gets them to judge distances and take risks!

B. Kid Power
I liked this exhibit a lot. The children got to use bikes and pulleys and such to generate motion. But there were a lot of hands-on displays which taught children about eating healthy and balancing diet and exercise -- an especially important topic in today's society!

C. Bubbles
This was just fun! The kids just got to make enormous bubbles! There were all sorts of crazy contraptions for making the things, you could make circular ones, rectangular ones four feet long, or ones that came up and encircled your body. Absolutely enchanting!

D. Raceways
Imagine a room full of a couple thousand golfballs whizzing around. Spinning, rolling, going up, going down, loop-the-looping, making the jump... Talk about testing out the laws of motion! It was pretty cool.

E. "The Common"
This wasn't really an exhibit, but it was a cool place to hang out! The well-designed and fun objects there included a chess set that had pieces almost as large as the children, and a projector shining butterflies onto the wall which would fly around and land on you!

F. Johnny's Workbench
I only began to do woodwork for the first time this semester, and these kids get to try it out at such a young age! These kids got to don miniature aprons and safety goggles and hack some wood apart, then build them into little boats. The tools they had access to included screwdrivers, files, hammers, and hacksaws (not kidding!).

G. Construction Zone
This was a pretty fun exhibit. They had some actual construction machines, and plenty of things to climb on, build, and play around with.

H. Boston Black
This was an exhibit dedicated to Boston's African American culture. Some parts of America still have a lot of racial tension, so it is good to see an exhibit designed to teach about black culture to children of such a young age.

I. A Japanese House
Speaking of different cultures, check out this exhibit! Get this -- they have an actual house, shipped from Japan, in their museum. Cool!

J. Recycle Shop
They sell all sorts of junk here, but the point is, it teaches children about recycling. It's great for children to learn about such an important topic early on.

In short, this a museum in which I feel they got things right. There are a lot of elements which fit my definition of fun from my previous post. There is a lot of running around, climbing, building, and playing. In addition, they emphasize extremely important topics for young children: they cover exercise, eating right, different cultures, and recycling. It's just an awesome place!

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