Nature and Science
The Nature and Science programs at Wonder Works include a broad range of hands-on activities for young children, created and implemented by Wonder Works’ resident scientist and early learning specialist, Eric Gyllenhaal. Nature and Science at Wonder Works takes place most every Friday from 10am until noon and is covered by General Admission.
- Each Friday of each month we present a range of activities related to topic for that week: Some activities are playful and fun for all. Other activities are a bit more focused, aimed at children with a deeper interest in the topic.
- Most activities are suitable for all ages. Some activities are aimed at toddlers, and others at 4-years old and up.
- Eric and his volunteers work directly with the children on some activities. Other activities are self-directed or need the child’s caregiver to lend a hand.
The Wonder Works’ Nature and Science program includes a broad range of topics that will develop a number of early childhood skills. These include age-appropriate math, from counting to sorting to spatial reasoning; engineering related themes; use of various technologies such as magnifiers and digital microscopes, and scientific principles such as experimentation, discovery and cause and effect. Every week also includes an art or craft project in North Avenue Artworks.
January 4: Collecting Nature for Play and Learning
Young children and their adults can learn about the natural world when they collect rocks, fossils, shells, bones, seeds, cones, or other objects produced by nature. At our Collecting Nature program, you can view, touch, sort, classify, learn about, and play with our nature collections from around the world. You can also jump-start your own nature collection: Sift through the sandbox to find rocks and shells you can either keep or trade at the Nature Collector’s Swap Shop. At the Swap Shop you can also trade in natural objects you bring from home.
January 11: Transportation Works
Let gravity do the work as you race toy cars down ramps. Then let spinning wheels propel toy cars in to loop-de-loops around a battery-powered raceway. There will also be more wooden trains than usual, plus an O-scale model railway. The play-dough table will be set up as a construction site, with diggers, dump trucks, and plastic construction workers. You’ll find more construction vehicles in our pebble-filled pool and in the art-room sandbox.
January 18: Animals in Winter
How do wild animals survive winter’s cold? Meet live creatures that usually spend the winter in sheltered places, like deep in the soil, in rotten logs, or under water. Then help plastic and plush bugs, birds, mammals, and reptiles find safe places to spend the winter in the Great Outdoors exhibit. You can also touch real mammal furs and bird feathers, examine skulls and bones, and make bird and mammal tracks at the play-dough table.
January 25: What’s Inside?
Today we will use our senses of touch, hearing, and sight to discover what’s inside a variety of natural and human-make objects. Reach inside a box and let your sense of touch tell you what it holds. Shake a container to see if you can tell what’s inside just by listening. You can look at X-rays of skeletons and take apart toys to see if we can figure out how they work. There also will be magic tricks that you can figure out once you look below the surface.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need to register in advance?
No registration is required, the Wonder Works' Nature and Science program is a drop-in program. Children can spend as much or as little time as they wish exploring the day's activities, and can come and go as they please.
How should I dress?
Some of the activities can be a little dirty, such as digging through soil to find bugs, but there shouldn't be anything that will stain clothing.
Is my child old enough?
Yes, your child is old enough. From toddlers to preschoolers, through first and second graders, there is something for everyone, each and every week.
Are there other related activities going on at the same time?
We try to have at least one art project in North Avenue Art Works correlate with the current week's Nature and Science Theme.
What do I get to take home?
Take homes vary week to week, some weeks children take home their art work from North Avenue Art Works, others they also take home may include collections of rocks, shark teeth or sand box treasures and more.