Sunday, September 29, 2013

Think, Experiment, and Create at Imaginate!

Last week, Kat and I were able to get a sneak preview of the Arizona Science Center's newest exhibit, Imaginate. Focusing on imagination and creativity, this exhibit is my absolute favorite so far!

Imaginate encourages kids to make their dreams and curiosity a reality, while utilizing skills in science, engineering, art, and math. Kids are learning at every station, and they don't even realize it because they're having so much fun!

As soon as you walk in, you're greeted with two huge flat screen TVs with several blinking eyes, opening mouths, and sniffing noses. Kids are encouraged to change things up a bit as they add these bits to their own faces, and then leave their crazy likeness on the wall for all to see.

Hey! How are you doing? Welcome to the Science Center!

Once you're done playing with your face, you'll notice a bright glowing tower sprouting out of a table. At this table, signs welcoming you to crumble, fold, and otherwise change the accompanying pieces of paper. Right next to this tower is a big button that says "PUSH", and if you do that, your paper will be sucked through the tower and thrown through the air! Depending on how you've designed your paper, it will either float, dance, or crash its way down to the ground!

These kids added tons of paper to create a waterfall of fluttering wings!

Speaking of air, friction, and flight design, Imaginate features a huge paper airplane tunnel! Complete with targets and a paper airplane station, kids can use their own tried and true designs, or make new ones. They can host competitions to see whose plane will travel the farthest, complete the highest number or turns in the air, or fly the fastest!

This exhibit is just SO COOL.

One of my favorite parts of this is the angle station next to the tunnel. I was never that great at making paper airplanes, I had always made the standard triangle with the fold out wings. This table features several awesome paper airplane designs, and has a display of angles so you can make precise folds in your plane! This sort of thing absolutely invites experimentation and awareness in geometry and other mathematical concepts, yet it totally doesn't feel like you're learning while you're doing this at all!

I am SO excited to come back and try this!

Speaking of math, here's another cool calculation you and your kids can make. If you were a bird, and you wanted to fly, how long would your wingspan have to be to carry you? This is a question humans have pondered throughout the ages. While we now have planes to carry us through the air, the thought of free flight still inspires our minds and our engineering skills (just think of the bat wing flight suits!).

Guess what? There are adult wings too!!!

There are also plenty of opportunities for kids to exercise their creative minds while thinking about how things work. There are stations for kids to make their own creations out of recycled materials. These stations even feature low temperature glue guns for the kids to use! This was Kat's first time using a glue gun on her own, and while the glue is still hot enough to warrant caution, it's nowhere near as painful as the extremely hot glue guns I'm used to here at home.

This station was a big hit with its inviting supply bins and glue guns!

Having so many craft supplies and their own glue guns to use, really helps to foster a sense of independence with the kids and their creations. The kids didn't have to wait for the adults to help them with their projects. Any adjustments that were made were at the sole discretion of the kid creating them, which made that hands on creative experience even more of a learning opportunity.

When the kids are finished, they can combine their artistic flourish with a bit of physics as they use mechanical engineering to make their creations move! From epic sword fights to silly dance parties, you can trade out different movement blocks to create different situations, and you can see how the gears and levers work together to make it all happen!

It's time for a dance party!
There is just so much to do here at this exhibit! You can explore with an awesome digital microscope, and you can play with magnets, fluid and motion, with their viscous magnetic display! You can make your own race cars and race them on various surfaces (you can learn and play with friction!) and you can use gear systems to make chain reactions occur.

Wanna race?

I think that one of our favorite parts of the exhibit, was the stop motion creation station. There's a software that allows kids to create their own stop motion movie, and there are a ton of great props, toys, and sets provided that the kids can use to make them. These are real stop motion movies they're making, so they'll have to use a lot of frames to make their magic happen!

There are so many props for the kids to play with!
There is even a proper set with an adjustable camera!

The thing that makes Imaginate so awesome is that it really does invite kids to experiment and to use their skills in creativity and problem solving. It's intuitive in the way that kids immediately walk up and start tinkering at each display. If they want to make faster planes, or make them go farther, they can use elements of the display to do that. It's all hands on, it's very easy and and most importantly, it's FUN!

We're going to be taking advantage of this exhibit as much as possible while it's here. There are so many valuable opportunities to learn, we're going to include this it as a part of our school work! Here, we get to think and create with science, engineering, technology, and math, with all of these awesome tools and ideas at our disposal!

Imaginate really is a playground of science!

Pepper says, "see you next time!"

Details on Imaginate:

Imaginate is now open to the public!
You see some of the exhibits in action here at Channel 3's segment for the science center. You can also see Kat on TV! She's in the cute little mouse shirt and pink skirt. ;)


FREE for members! (Admission will increase on November 22)
For non-members ages 3-17: $18
For non-members ages 18+: $21.95
Pricing includes all day general admission.
Admission to the giant room of block building (this is awesome!): $5

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