Partner Highlight: The Universe Unfolds at the Children's Museum of Brownsville
The Sun, Earth, Universe exhibition has been a great addition to the Children’s Museum of Brownsville! Although there was an initial challenge of how to fit it into our existing space, which is a bit odd in dimension, the modules were easy to arrange and incorporate into our floor space. Because each component is free-standing, it allowed us to create different sections within the overall area, and we even went one step further and added some twinkle lights on the ceiling for added “stars in space” effect.
The bilingual content in this exhibit is also appreciated by our audience, as our market includes residents of northern Mexico, and the majority of the U.S. residents speak both languages. This supports our objective of inclusion.
Adapting the exhibition to younger museum visitors
Because the target age of the exhibit begins at the age of 6, and our museum is geared for children 0-8, we felt that we needed to extend the experience to our younger guests. One example of an activity we use to help encourage young visitors is a facilitated game for pre-school children who visit the museum on field trips.
We created a “Planet Toss” game which includes beach buckets that have been decorated with images of the surfaces of different planets and the Earth’s Moon. The facilitator will ask the children to toss a jumbo cube with letters that correspond to the planets and Moon. A child participates with “shooting stars” (badminton shuttlecocks) to land on the planet or Moon with the corresponding first letter. Their classmates serve as sounding board and cheerleaders to help advance the matching game and encourage their friend. We have also installed blow-up globes representing the solar system along our back wall that we use as a visual aid.
The dress-up area includes, helmets, jackets, coveralls, gloves, and booties that have been added to Sun, Earth, Universe to help engage younger children. Over the years, we have observed that young children enjoy capturing the look and feel of their imaginary play character. All of our outfits contain NASA or space logos so that parents, museum play leaders, and other children can identify the astronauts in action and acknowledge their identity.
Another fun component that we use in Sun, Earth, Universe is a hurricane simulator that we converted into a rocket so the children can get in and feel like they are “blasting off into outer space!” This simple change helps to support the connection between space and how humans are engaged with our solar system.
To learn more about how the Children's Museum of Brownsville adapted their Sun, Earth, Universe exhibition for their museum audience, contact Felipe Pena, Executive Director, at [email protected].