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Kid on Bike at Science CityScience City in Kansas City’s Union Station celebrates the scientist in us all. The Sky Bike lets kids test their center of gravity by riding an untipable bicycle along a high wire thirty feet above the ground. Photo: Courtesy of Science City.
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City Museum1City Museum offers a five-story outdoor climbing structure that attracts kids of all ages to its downtown St. Louis location.Photo: Courtesy of City Museum
Imagination roams free in children's museums
Who gets to climb all over the furniture at home? Blow sudsy bubbles the size of basketballs? Bang the drums with gusto? Let’s face it, life at home is not always a kid’s world.
But at children’s museums, kids can be kids, and parents can stop worrying. Last year, the nation’s approximately 275 children’s museums drew about 30 million visitors — nearly a million of them in Missouri — according to the Washington-based Association of Children’s Museums. Here, no ropes or glass cases come between kids and their imaginations. These hands-on environments foster creative thinking, problem-solving, self-confidence, and diverse interaction. But best of all, they’re fun!
The Magic House
The Magic House, The St. Louis Children’s Museum is among Missouri’s most popular kids’ museums. The hands-on museum includes a Sound Room; kids can play instruments as loud as they like. At Math Path, kids play games using a giant calculator and race against time with a car they design. At Children’s Village, youngsters are encouraged to construct a firehouse, play dress up, and simulate writing checks, stocking store shelves, and catching fish. The Kids TV Studio lets young people imagine they’re announcing a newscast. In the Fitness Center, kids can experience what it’s like to race a wheelchair, test their arm strength, and swing on a vine. For visitors as young as one, For Baby & Me lets them explore the peek-a-boo house, hop aboard and steer a tiny boat, and play on the baby gym.
For more information, call 314-822-8900 or visit www.magichouse.com.
In the 1960s, Don Hall and his Hallmark team conceived Kaleidoscope, an art studio on wheels where children could explore, imagine, and create. In 1975, a permanent Kaleidoscope was created at Hallmark’s Kansas City headquarters. At Kaleidoscope, children ages 5 through 12 can explore their artistic side making art from the stuff professionals use: Hallmark scrap material.
For more information call 816-274-8300 or visit www.hallmarkkaleidoscope.com.
Bootheel Youth Museum
Thousands of visitors stand inside a bubble, freeze shadows on a wall, and make music on sewer pipes at the Bootheel Youth Museum. The museum’s more than 50 hands-on exhibits explore math, science, human relations, natural resources, and the arts. This Island Mars: A Space Adventure, one of the museum’s interactive exhibits, features a space station, a Mission Briefing Room, and Gravity Ball, a virtual reality game that lets children experience weightlessness. The Construction Zone encourages creative building skills, and the Earthquake Exhibit lets kids observe Mother Nature’s power. Children’s Village contains a miniature town complete with gas station, grocery store, and firehouse.
For more information, call 573-276-3600 or visit www.bootheelyouthmuseum.org.
Science City in Kansas City’s historic Union Station combines art, music, and history with scientific principles. More than 50 interactive areas feature displays on astronauts, weather, dinosaurs, and the human body. There’s a Model Railroad Experience and DinoLab. Kids can also try their hand at broadcasting in the KSC television and weather studios.
For more information, call 816-460- 2020 or visit www.sciencecity.com.
The Discovery Center
The Discovery Center in downtown Springfield includes opportunities for kids to write a newspaper article, run a television station, shop at a market, learn world currencies, be a puppeteer, and dig for dinosaur fossils. The exhibits and programs interweave science, technology, math, health, the environment, culture, art, and communications. The WorldWise Gallery lets kids explore the cultures of China, Mexico, Japan, and Africa. Wonderland is designed for children five and younger to interact with adults through magnetic storyboards, super-size building blocks, and a water-play table.
For more information, call 417-862-9910 or visit www.discoverycenter.org.
City Museum is an ever-changing environment of exhibits created from recycled, recovered, and reshaped materials. The space itself is a work of art, a rush of sound and light with sculptures, mosaics, and gargoyles. Kids swing, jump, crawl, and slide in the skateless park made up of old skate ramps and half pipe. They crawl through caves and bounce in a giant ball pit. At MonstroCity, visitors explore a five-story labyrinth of aircraft fuselages, a fire engine, a castle turret, and wire tunnels resembling giant Slinkies. Kids can create their own work of art at Art City. The World Aquarium is a 13,500- square-foot aquatic water world housing more than 10,000 creatures.
For more information, call 314-231-2489 or visit www.citymuseum.org.
By Mary Syrett