How does a children’s museum celebrate its 15th birthday?
With a lot of kids and parents, a lot of cake, a lot of activities. That’s what happened Saturday as hundreds of people gathered in Exploration Place, the sprawling children’s museum on the riverbank just across from downtown Wichita, at 300 N. McLean Blvd.
The party began Saturday afternoon and will continue Sunday, from 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is $5.
Exploration Place is where children learn – eyes on, ears on and hands on – about science, technology, engineering and math and just about everything about the world and the creatures around them. It caters to children from infancy through age 12.
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Some staff members first came to the museum as children – “We’re getting to be that old,” marketing director Christina Bluml noted. Still, she said, in the world of museums, 15 is relatively young.
Making bubbles is one tangible way to teach children about abstract scientific concepts, like surface tension, said Resha Parajuli, exhibits program coordinator. Parajuli oversaw the bubble program Saturday, where children used different shaped wands to make bubbles that floated from the observation deck.
Parajuli and her colleagues explain to children that bubbles are round because water molecules form as spheres. Think of raindrops. They also tell children that the bubbles appear in various colors because light reflects differently through the varying widths of the thin film that makes a bubble.
“Kids just love bubbles,” Bluml said.
Not long after Bluml said that, a girl in a gray dress stood in the middle of the observation deck and slowly spun around, holding out a wand full of bubble mixture. She sent rainbow-colored spheres into the wind.
In the lobby, as part of the birthday celebration, children and adults posed with Chirpie, the museum’s bird-like mascot, and later sang “Happy Birthday” to him before getting a piece of sheet cake.
In another room, kids crafted bubble wands with their own hands, using wire and beads made from a 3-D printer. Another theme the museum has embraced is children learning by making things themselves.
Exploration Place, which gets “upwards of 200,000 visitors” each year, is working on new programs and exhibits all the time, Bluml said.
The aviation exhibit, for example, will be totally refurbished, with a new one expected to open in 2017.
“It’s an exciting time for us,” Bluml said.
“We’ve just been really fortunate having the community support that we’ve had.”
Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or firstname.lastname@example.org.