It can be difficult to find activities during the weekend or school breaks where kids can have fun but learn something at the same time. That’s where children’s museums help fill the gap. Local museums offer kids a fun time while also stimulating their minds.
In 2004, Dan Ingrum realized that the Central Valley needed an Exploratorium-type of museum for families and the community as a whole.
A group of volunteers raised over $600,000 just from the local communities to make the museum a reality. In May of 2008, tenant improvements commenced on an empty 9,000 sq. ft. building in Lodi and by September of that year, the building was ready to be filled with hands-on exhibits.
Today, the World of Wonders Science Museum is home to over 70 hands-on science exhibits. Many of the exhibits in the museum have been donated by local supporters or built by the resident exhibit engineer, Jim Pyers. The WOW, which opened its doors in March 2009, also provides immersive science programming such as field study trips, WOW on Wheels, WOW University, science summer camps, science-themed birthday parties, special event days at the museum and a WOW science store.
Adjacent to the hands-on museum, the WOW’s new 1700 sq. ft. educational science classroom is now in operation.
Some of the more popular exhibits are the moonwalk where visitors can feel what it feels like to walk on the moon, a plasma ball to learn about electrodes and a turntable to learn about Newton’s first law of motion.
“I remember being in school and every teacher was pushing a book, and the funny thing was I hated science, anything dealing with a book I failed. I have learned so much more working here than I did growing up and I’m a firm believer that science needs to be hands-on,” said museum employee Jennifer Smith.
A Modesto children’s museum is currently in the works and hopes to be welcoming visitors in the near future. The museum has a capital campaign to raise $7.5 million and once they accomplish that, they could start making their dreams a reality.
The museum plans to offer interactive exhibits and innovative programming for children. They will be partnering with local school districts and community organizations to complement school curricula and support learning outcomes, while ensuring that families of all means and backgrounds are able to enjoy and benefit from the museum.
“The Modesto Children’s Museum will foster creativity, excitement about new ideas, a love of learning and the confidence to try new things. There is truly no experience like this in Stanislaus County; we want to give our community’s children the chance to learn and grow in this type of environment, right in their own backyard,” it says on the museum’s website.
They have secured a property in downtown Modesto and “are working hard to design one of the best Children’s Museum experiences in California.”
For more information about the Modesto Children’s Museum or to donate, visit modestochildrensmuseum.org.
World of Wonders
2 N. Sacramento St., Lodi
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Monday (closed from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. for cleaning daily)
2 years and under and teachers with ID, free; $6 for ages 2 to 17 and military; $8 for adults; $7 for seniors and adult students