Remember those ball pits that were oh-so-fun to play in as a kid? Well, the Children's Museum of Denver took that idea, added a dose of science, and came up with a crazy-cool exhibit called Kinetics!.
Toddlers and adolescents—the museum's target demographic is newborn to eight year olds—can explore the laws of motion in a lab rat-esque space. The front section (pictured, below) sends orange plastic balls rolling along tracks, darting through chutes, and bouncing between knobs that the kids set in motion themselves by turning, jumping, and pushing. In the back (pictured, right), the tykes get even more hands-on by constructing their own ramps for the balls to roll along. "They're actively doing science and actually experimenting," says lead designer Chris Van Dyken. Plus, there's plenty of opportunity for parents or babysitters to collaborate with their kids (and, let's be honest, have fun playing, too). "If you can engage the parents, the child is going to follow," Van Dyken says.
Kinetics! officially opens on Saturday, after a year and a half spent designing and four weeks tweaking the protype after observing kids' interaction with the layout. That kind of commitment is at the core of the museum's mission, which highlights the importance of learning through play. "The more hand-ons and unforgettable an experience it is, the longer [the lessons] will last," says Zoe Ocampo, the museums manager of marketing and communications.
—Images courtesy of Zoe Ocampo
Follow assistant editor Daliah Singer on Twitter at @daliahsinger.