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    The Kentucky Science Center has been working on a new early childhood exhibit over the past six months or so, and is ready to reveal it to members of the Science Center and the general public this weekend. Science in Play is a new exhibit which will help improve the early childhood learning culture in the community and will help children and their parents and caregivers hone in on skills such as curiosity, critical thinking, creativity, and problem solving.

    What many remember and know so well about the Science Center and the first floor fun space is the area previously known as KidZone. That space has been completely remodeled and renovated to bring about the new Science in Play exhibit. The space went through a sort of demolition and has been completely given a makeover that will surprise and entice everyone, especially little ones under the age of 5 or 6. Throughout the past month of June, installation has been going on with new flooring, paint, and some structural changes. During this transitional period, visitors have been able to enjoy prototype learning labs in the spaces where the updates will be revealed. These experiences have helped visitors really envision what is to come, and this July 3 (an exclusive sneak peek for Science Center members) and July 4 (open to the general public), the Science in Play will be fully operational and ready for all kinds of fun, hands-on learning.

    The new exhibit area promises to be "visually exciting, very engaging, open-ended and rich in loose parts," said Science Center Executive Director, Joanna Haas. “It builds on work we have been prototyping these past three years, with lots of visitor input and assistance. Through the portal of play, children and adult caregivers are empowered to translate their everyday activities at home and beyond into opportunities for learning. In this we are excited to join city and state leaders in the important job of setting children on the right path to succeed in school and life.”

    The new Science in Play area is a new and permanent exhibit, replacing the former KidZone and the traveling exhibit space that was designated to the first floor. The Science Center has not had a major overhaul of space such as this since 2006 and the opening of the World Around Us exhibit on the second floor. The Science in Play will expand the early childhood education space from the previous 5000 square feet to approximately 11,000 square feet.

    Funding for this project was reached through a major fundraising goal which raised $3.2 million toward the $3.3 million that was projected. Science in Play is sponsored by PNC Grow Up Great, as well as from major gifts from the region’s leading advocates of early childhood education, including: the James Graham Brown Foundation, Sandra Frazier, the LG&E and KU Foundation, the Lift a Life Foundation, Louisville Metro Government, the Norton Foundation, the C.E. and S. Foundation, The Gheens Foundation, Inc., Kentucky Science Center and its Board of Directors.
    Science in Play is designed in part with a collaboration between the Science Center and HandsOn! Inc out of St. Petersburg, FL. It includes the following:

    An expanded build-your-own roller coaster area

    All new experiences like the gigantic “Happy Climber” that will welcome families to the space. This 14-foot tall climbing structure will "encourage children not only to stretch and strengthen their motor skills and problem-solving abilities but will build self-confidence and accuracy in gauging their own physical skills."

    A completely updated “Shapes & Stuff Store” will "ensure beloved attributes of this math-rich shopping experience are maintained while expanding and refining the space to include more tools and interpretive materials. The unstructured experience fosters creative, gender-neutral role-play opportunities that encourage inventiveness and flexibility."

    A highly engaging new “Color & Light” room "will give young visitors the chance to experiment with the concepts of color mixing, shadow play and even ways to explore patterns and visual memory."

    “Grow Zone” will be a "protected space dedicated to infants to toddlers with ample opportunities for sensory exploration, located near the Science Center’s addicting “Airways” exhibit experience."

    “Little Build” where children can "put their engineering skills to work through direct manipulation of blocks and other loose parts."

    “Science Depot” will return as a "fully integrated area with routine challenges and activities designed to encourage first-hand use of real science tools, by even the very youngest of visitors."

    For fans of the former KidZone’s beloved “Splash! Water Table”, the water table will be a part of the completed Science in Play gallery experience.

    Admission to the Kentucky Science Center will include Science in Play experiences. Ticket prices for exhibits only are $13 for adults and $11 for children (ages 2-12). The Kentucky Science Center is located at 727 West Main Street. Call 502-561-6100 for more information.

    Once again, the Science in Play exhibit officially opens to the general public on Saturday, July 4.

    Photos courtesy of Kentucky Science Center

    Erin Nevitt's picture

    About Erin Nevitt

    Longtime Louisvillian, I am a children's librarian at heart and have a passion for children's lit. I am most recently a stay-at-home mom who is always on the move, searching for family fun in Louisville. If it's free, it's preferable!

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