Need ideas for keeping your kids busy and learning over winter break?
The Children’s Museum of Denver unveiled a new science and engineering exhibit in October that explores the laws of motion with one of the most entertaining interactive exhibits I have ever seen.
The second-floor room features two glass walls that are full of gears, ramps, pulleys, levers, buttons and more. Hundreds of orange plastic balls are scattered around the room and a series of vacuum tubes allow kids of all ages to watch gravity in action and also help move the balls through the tubes and obstacles into a huge ball collection bin on the ceiling.
After a certain number of balls are collected in the bin, a sensor is triggered and a few seonds later, the bin opens up and rains orange balls upon anyone adventurous enough to be standing below.
A second area of the room has a series of vacuum tubes that start on the ground and run up along the ceiling and come back down to ground level where the balls are released into kid-created ramps, slides, steps or other moveable obstacles. There are 4 different tubes and tons of large foam obstacles that the children can move around the area to create different paths for the balls.
I attended the museum with my 3-year-old son and a 2-year-old buddy and while they had a blast throughout the museum, we definitely spent the most time (and energy!) in the Kinetics room. They ran back and forth for more than 30 minutes of stuffing balls into the tubes and turning the wheels and pumping levers to watch the balls pile up in the collection bin. This exhibit is great for kids of all ages – even the infants were fascinated watching all the balls (and kids) rolling around the room. Older kids enjoyed the engineering challenges and experimented with different combinations of chutes and ramps.
There was also a video screen in “Newton’s Cradle” which demonstarted some of the principles of motion in action. The Kinetics exhibit has a permanent home at the top of the stairs and has immediately become one of our new favorite parts of the museum. Not only is it a great way for kids to explore science and engineering, but it encourages creativity and is great exercise to boot. I just wish it came with building instructions, so my engineer husband could replicate one in our basement.
The Children’s Museum of Denver (located at 2121 Children’s Museum Drive) is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is also open Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. and on the weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
They have a number of daily special activities featuring art, movement and story times and host birthday parties and special events all year long. Families can celebrate “Noon Year’s Eve” at the museum this year on Monday, Dec. 31 from 9 a.m .to 4 p.m.
Lindley is a full-time stay-at-home mom and part-time youth basketball tournament director. She graduated from CSU with degrees in journalism and psychology and currently resides in Thornton with her husband, two boys and her trusty pooch, Luke.