For a child, there are few things more exciting than the opportunity to play. Whether climbing on a jungle gym, pretending to be a pirate or organizing a game of tag, play offers kids the freedom to have fun and be themselves.
Play is also a powerful way for kids to learn about the world around them. Through play, children get to explore their creativity, enhance their social skills and develop confidence in their abilities. And play can be educational too. Even adults will agree that it is easier – and more enjoyable – to learn a new skill or understand a difficult concept when you get to have fun while doing so.
Thanks to a new internationally traveling exhibition making its U.S. debut at The Magic House, St. Louis kids will be the first in the United States to explore the intersection of art and technology through play.
Described as a unique digital playground that combines the power of hands-on play with the future of digital technology, Future Play: Art + Technology will run at The Magic House from May 28 through September 5. Created by Team Lab Kids, Inc. (the same creators of the popular Sketch Aquarium in the Magic House’s new Wonder Works exhibit), the exhibit is designed to encourage an interest in digital technology through digital play.
“The exhibit is broken into four different sections, each with its own experience that combines technology in a very collaborative and artistic way,” says Carrie Hutchcraft, Director of Communications at The Magic House. “While this exhibit uses new technology, the play experience itself feels very tech-free.”
The four different interactive areas for children to explore include:
Sketch Town: Kids will create their own virtual town by drawing colorful pictures, which can then be scanned in a system and projected on oversized, interactive exhibit walls that are reactive to a child’s touch. Kids can also turn their 2-D coloring sheet into a 3-D paper craft model of the town they have created to take home.
Light Ball Orchestra: This is where music is made! Children can roll soft, oversized balls (which are nearly as tall as they are) to create their very own orchestra. When the balls connect and touch, they communicate with each other to make music and lights sound and change.
Above: Light Ball Orchestra
Connecting Blocks: The wooden blocks in this area may look the ones you have at home, but these can be used to create digital thoroughfares for vehicles like cars, boats and planes. By connecting like colors on a table that doubles as a large-scale screen, kids can collaborate with each other to create working pathways.
Above: Connecting Blocks
Hopscotch: Kids can design their own hopscotch course on an iPad, and then see their beautiful artwork and designs projected on the ground in a colorful array of shapes and patterns. The course can be simple or challenging, and is a perfect activity for keeping both minds and bodies busy and active.
“This exhibit will truly span the ages,” says Hutchcraft about Future Play. “We think even adults will enjoy it! For younger kids, they will enjoy coloring their own town and rolling the large balls. The older kids will find new ways of using technology to enhance the play experience.”
While it’s common for parents to worry about the effects of too much technology in our children’s lives, it’s also important to recognize the potential that digital technology has to improve our world for the better. Today’s kids are tomorrow’s leaders, and through Future Play, they are presented with a fun and engaging opportunity to learn about and develop an interest in some of the most exciting advances in the field.
Future Play opens at The Magic House on May 28, 2016 and runs through September 5, 2016. It is free with regular Museum admission of $10 per person. (Children under the age of one are free.) To learn more, visit www.magichouse.org.
Alyssa Chirco is a freelance writer, mother and margarita lover, not necessarily in that order. In addition to writing for STL Parent, she is Contributing Editor at Parenting Squad, and covers parenting, health and lifestyle topics for publications across the country. She recently moved from the suburbs of St. Louis to a small town in rural Jefferson County, where she is learning to survive with no Target or Starbucks in sight. Follow her on Twitter @AlyssaChirco
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