Places to Go - Inventing Stuff at the Smithsonian Museum of American History (Washington D.C.)
This summer, the Smithsonian reopened their "Innovation Wing" on the first floor, after a long renovation (how many years has it been closed? It seems like forever). We finally had a chance to check it out a few weeks ago and I cannot say enough good things. Tons of hands on learning experiences perfect for kids of all ages.
First stop, the new Spark!Lab, aimed at children 6-12. Through October, the Lab focuses on "Things that Roll" (after October the lab plans on changing its focus every few months). Kids can use everyday materials to make their own rolling vehicles and test them out on a ramp. Stations also allow children to create an adaptive car, make a rolling toy, and experiment with other materials and projects. The girls spent a whole hour creating vehicles out of cardboard, pipe cleaners, tape, and beads.
After Spark!Lab, we moved on to the Places of Innovation exhibit, where you can: operate a turntable, create a computer Icon, and work on an assembly line (the boys had a BLAST working together to make random wire "things").
Next stop, Object Project - virtually try on outfits from past decades, "ride" an old-fashioned bicycle, and (my favorite) play The Price is Right by guessing the listed value of items in old (sometimes super old) Sears' catalogs.
AND THAT'S JUST ONE SECTION OF THE FIRST FLOOR!! So much fun!! If you haven't been yet, I highly suggest a visit. The Spark!Lab is open 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m every day but Tuesday. It was not crowded when we visited (on a weekday before school started), but I'm not sure it could handle crowds well.
And for those of you with younger children, even more fun is coming in December!