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Wonder Works is Open at The Magic House!

2015 December 23
by Becky

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Wonder Works is finally open!! After THIRTY years, the Magic House has completely revamped one of their main exhibits to thrill 2-8 year old kids through STEM-based activities. The brand new Wonder Works is a bright and colorful space featuring hands-on play to spark your child’s creativity and sneakily teach them the science behind every day concepts.

We were thrilled to be invited to the ribbon cutting and sneak preview (my name tag even had a title, “Blogger”…I felt so official) and I could barely contain Ethan, he went shooting through the crowd, making a bee-line for the exhibit entrance.

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The “climbing cage” was where I found Ethan after the crowd dispersed. He was smack in the middle, grinning from ear to ear, inching his way through the maze of curved shelves. Looking up, the kids can catch a glimpse of themselves in the giant overhead mirrors, and I saw a few resting in the top levels. Much time was also spent at the Air Power section, mostly consisting of Ethan sticking his face in the blowers…how can that ever get old?

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I was initially overwhelmed—this exhibit is SO different than before! The use of space in this new build-out is clearly more advantageous. The activities keep going UP! Multiple stairways lead up a tower of topped with wooden mechanical contraptions. Colorful walkways and tunnels take kids under and over and through the structures. The flow is better, the vibe one of excitement.

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I loved the pulley system bringing balls up from below so these kids could work together to send the balls down the tracks, a little boy waited below for collection and return. He got frustrated and took a bin of balls up the steps at one point. I had a blast watching them “work”.

When things cleared out a little, Ethan’s first priority was heading under the tower to check out the microscope, having a blast making spiders appear on the big screen to scare me…I hate spiders. There were some really cool glass-encased creatures to choose from. He turned around to explore some rocks, or “gems” as he called them, weighing them, drawing them, and comparing them. I loved the beautiful rock slices overhead.

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Probably the biggest difference and my favorite part of the new exhibit was the ocean room—holy cow is this place awesome. Kids choose a sea creature to color, pop it under a scanner, and then watch their creation plop into the ocean scene projected on the walls. Ethan created a shark and was totally delighted watching it swim around the room for 2o minutes, reacting at the touch of a hand. The fish REACT when you touch them! I think he could have made 15 creatures, one after another…he is at the perfect stage to totally love this activity.

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The center of the ocean room is filled with a submarine, something we didn’t get a chance to check out because it was consistently occupied. Must be fun! Finn loved the beautiful salt water tank—inspiration for the artists?—full of fish and gorgeous coral.

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Overall, Wonder Works is amazing. A much-needed update to a well-loved part of the museum. I can see many afternoons spent here, Ethan running through the new stuff while Finn and I pop in and out of the baby area right next door.

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While everything is SO new, there were a few areas, members made clear, that were not to be touched. The sand, the slide, and the mouse house were favorites and have stayed in the space. After making a first pass through the new stuff, Ethan played in the sand for at least 15 minutes, scooping, pouring, and dumping as always.

“Ethan, check out this new ball maze!” “No thanks mom!” I get it. Clean sand, at standing level, with cool toys, what more does a little kid need? There’s something very peaceful about kids playing in sand. I just love that this spot doesn’t leave Ethan’s shoes and pockets full of the messy stuff.

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I think it’s clear, we’re big fans of the new Wonder Works!! It’s a perfect place to hang with the fam over the holiday break! Our favorite time to visit the Magic House is after school on week days, so often at those times it’s like our own private children’s museum, not many kids running about. We’re so lucky to have such a fantastic play place in St. Louis and we love being members.

Check here for hours and make plans to go! You can’t help but have a blast.

What’s your favorite part of the Magic House?  

 

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