I am so excited to share a little about the brand new US Space & Rocket Center’s new exhibit! It is called the Spark!Lab. It is ALL about hands-on learning and innovation. My kids have literally asked to go back every day since we were there!
The Spark!Lab is a light and bright space, with a collection of low tables, and a play area for younger kids. One whole wall has shelving that holds large totes, each with a label, describing it’s contents. Each tote holds a different activity or collection of items that are hands-on and specifically geared towards innovation and problem solving. The concept of the space is very simple. One tote per table, one activity per space. A few times while we were there, one of the workers would pack up one of the open totes that were at a table not being used, and pull a different activity out.
I absolutely loved that the workers engaged with the kids asking them problem solving questions! They didn’t simply answer questions only when asked, but they very intentionally initiated and responded with thoughtful information that encouraged problem solving thought, and self success.
There was something for everyone. My 9 year old gravitated towards the table with technic Legos, to solve a problem transporting goods over a river using a cable. My 7 year old LOVED the table designing parachutes, to deliver supplies to remote areas. My 5 year old hung out at the “blocks and music” table quite a lot! When you dropped marbles through the different elements they made different tones and sounds. SO COOL! My 3 year old spent the most time in the “blue spot”. She absolutely loved the magnifying glasses. There were a ton of things to look at with them.
What did I like the best? I personally loved that I could see them all at the same time even though they were all engaged in different activities. I loved that it was super easy to have a stroller along for my 6 month old. I really love that they have so many different totes with different activities, so the exhibit will always have fresh content each time we go. My favorite part was that all my kids were actively engaged in learning. They begged me to stay longer when it was time to leave, and they have asked to go back every day since. Good thing we have a Mars Family Membership pass!
This is a Smithsonian sponsored exhibit that I am excited to say, will be staying for quite a while! The Spark!Lab is part of a national network that is focused on stimulating creative thinking and problem solving in the next generation of children. This exhibit wasn’t just fun, it got my kids to think and problem solve, and they are so excited to go back and learn more.
Spark!Lab Exhibit Details
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- STEM Resources for Kids
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Jenni McCarty is a wife, mom of four, l'il bit granola, jean-wearer, iced coffee drinker, home schooler, more than just a little obsessed with photography, frustrated organizer (see “mom of four”) yet ironically logical, Pinterest addict and Facebook follower, sufferer of ADCD (attention deficit crafters disorder), displaced Alaskan. She opened Jenni M Photography in 2012 and she really enjoys blogging about her personal family adventures whenever she has a chance.