When people find out what I do for a living, the most common response is, “That sounds like an AWESOME job!” And I won’t lie—it pretty much is. As an exhibit developer at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, I get to spend my time working on fabulous projects like LEGO® Travel Adventure (at Arizona Science Center until Jan. 1, 2013)
After working on LEGO® Castle Adventure in 2008 (this exhibition also made an appearance at Arizona Science Center back in 2009), I was excited to take on a new LEGO® project; they’re a great company to work with, and their bricks are a natural fit for melding fun with education through creative building. When LEGO Systems, Inc. let us know they had a number of large vehicle models available from a recently retired exhibit, we were ready for the challenge of developing a new Adventure including these pieces.
While there are some cool diorama-style pieces evoking the history of transportation in LEGO Travel Adventure, my main focus was on encouraging our visitors to build creatively. We had a brainstorm here at our museum where we challenged staff to build vehicles that could meet multiple terrain challenges—“Fly over the ocean, drive up the beach, and then descend into an active volcano!” The results were wildly innovative and fun, and that brainstorm inspired us to develop activities in the exhibit around this idea of making crazy vehicles that can do all kinds of things. The build tables all have terrain challenges to spark kids’ imaginations, and our travel adventure computer game lets them customize a virtual LEGO vehicle and then “test” it by sending it on a journey over land, sea, and air. By referencing real-world places like Hawaii, Paris, etc., we connected up these generic challenges with the idea that you can travel anywhere you want to go, if you have the right vehicle to get you there!
Overall, this exhibit was a blast to work on. There’s nothing quite like going into a gallery and seeing dozens of kids having a great time doing all this stuff you’ve been planning and building for months and months! I never got tired of strolling into LEGO Travel Adventure and seeing families working together at the build tables, playing the computer game, and sitting in the cockpit of the giant “Travel Adventure Vehicle” in the pretend-play area. I hope everyone at Arizona Science Center has as much fun with this exhibit as I did!
This article is written by Cathy Hamaker, Exhibit Developer at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.