Tuesday, October 17th was the public unveiling of our new permanent exhibit- STEAM Lab! Many people are familiar with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) but we added the “A” to highlight the importance of applied art in technology and design. Through generous donations from the Employees Community Fund of Boeing California, La Habra Rotary Club, La Habra Host Lions Club, Museum Guild of The Children’s Museum at La Habra, and National Charity League – Whittier Chapter, we were able to transform our former Nanny’s Travels gallery into a hands-on early childhood science lab.
The first exhibit you’ll see is our Balance and Funnel table. Younger children will develop their pincer grip and hand/eye coordination as they move beans from one area to the other. Our older guests can experiment with position and weights on the balance- does location matter when filling the cups with beans?
In the back corner next to the balance and funnel table is a small magnetic shape wall. It’s a great example of how shapes can be combined into larger ones- geometry in motion! We love seeing the colorful designs our guests make.
Next up is our Ramp Raceway. Using a combination of rubber ramps and plastic stands, kids can design their own “rollercoaster” for small wooden balls. You can even build side by side tracks and race to the end! Hills, valleys, extreme drop-offs- anything’s possible with this enriching and open-ended activity.
Across from the Ramp Raceway is the Magnetic Maze Wall. Using magnetic ramps and rings on a metal wall, your goal is to create a layout to get a wooden ball from the top to the bottom. Warning- it’s harder than it looks! This area is already a big hit with our visitors and encourages learning through collaboration, prediction, and hands-on trial and error.
Next to the maze wall is the Flight Lab. The Flight Lab was specifically designed for children to experiment with and learn about the movement of air. Bins with ribbons, feathers, and other small objects are available for kids to test in the wind tunnel. We love that children get instant feedback from the display and develop an intuitive understanding of aerodynamics.
Finally, one last component of STEAM Lab actually lives in the Science Station. Our Illumination Station is a giant light wall similar to the Lite Brite that many of us remember from our childhoods. The colored pegs shine at their ends, transforming your design into a beautiful glowing creation. We’ve been so impressed with the creative pictures our visitors come up with!
Child development pioneer Jean Piaget is known for his quote “Play is the work of childhood.” It’s a great idea to keep in mind for anyone with little ones. The sorting, mixing, rolling, and repeating of tasks that look like “play” are foundational skills needed not only for science, but in all aspects of education. We invite you and your child to work together in our new STEAM Lab and let us know what you think!