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Finding Treasure in the Sand Box
Experimenting with Ramps
Checking out the Fossil Collection
A few Geodes
Young Paleontologists Excavating Fossils
Discovering Bones in the Forest

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 nearly every Friday, from 10am until noon and is covered by General Admission.

  • Each Friday we present a range of activities related to topic of the 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.

February's Activities

February 3: Animals with Bones
Find out which animals have bones inside and what their bones look and feel like. See skeletons of snake, turtle, bird, and rabbit, and touch bones and skulls from several kinds of mammals. Play with pretend bones in the Great Outdoors exhibit and excavate pretend skeletons from play dough. Touch real fur and feathers from animals with bones and play with plastic and plush versions of animals with bones.

February 10: Air-powered Toys

Moving air can power airplanes, helicopters, boats, and many other kinds of vehicles. At this week’s program you can launch a paper helicopter, drop a parachute, release a balloon-powered vehicle, help the wind-blow sailboats across the water, and fly aircraft powered by your imagination. You can also make your own burst of wind using an empty plastic jug or our more powerful air cannon.

February 17: Rocks for Play and Learning

We will have lots of rocks at Wonder Works today, including big rocks to touch, smaller rocks to sort, and tiny rocks to sift from the art-room sandbox. You also can collect coal and iron ore hauled by our O-scale model railway and rocks of many different colors. The play-dough table will be set up as a quarry, where diggers and dump trucks excavate rocks and crystals and wooden trains haul them all away.

February 24: Electric Toys and Magnets

Play with static electricity made with balloons and hair and discover tricks you can play with it. You can also play with toys powered by current electricity from batteries and transformers. We will peek inside some of the toys to figure out how they work. Hint: Their motors will have magnets! We also will lots of magnetic construction materials to build with, plus magnets to explore the art-room sandbox—see what sticks to magnets, and what does not.

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 collections of rocks, shark teeth or sand box treasures and more.