DuPage Children's Museum debuts water exhibit

 
By Ann Piccininni
Daily Herald Correspondent
Posted6/21/2017 11:16 AM
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  • Nancy Abbott, left, senior graphic designer, and Jaime Johnson, senior marketing manager, get the AWEsome Water exhibit set up at the DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville.

      Nancy Abbott, left, senior graphic designer, and Jaime Johnson, senior marketing manager, get the AWEsome Water exhibit set up at the DuPage Children's Museum in Naperville. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • DuPage Children's Museum is debuting the AWEsome Water exhibit to teach about the properties and the power of water with elements like the water wheel.

      DuPage Children's Museum is debuting the AWEsome Water exhibit to teach about the properties and the power of water with elements like the water wheel. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

  • As the DuPage Children's Museum celebrates its 30th birthday, it's opening the AWEsome Water exhibit, where children can get their hands wet while exploring how water moves.

      As the DuPage Children's Museum celebrates its 30th birthday, it's opening the AWEsome Water exhibit, where children can get their hands wet while exploring how water moves. Bev Horne | Staff Photographer

A two-for-one celebration is coming up this weekend at the DuPage Children's Museum when a new exhibit, AWEsome Water, debuts as the museum celebrates its 30th birthday.

The exhibit features tables flowing with water intended to teach children about the properties of water while demonstrating its power. There's a water raceway, a water wheel, fountains and something that Kimberly Stull, director of exhibits, describes as a "vortex of swirling water."

The new exhibit is the third installation in a three-part project called AWEsome Energy. The first two parts concentrate on air and electricity. The three components are housed together in a 4,000-square-foot space inside the museum, she said.

AWEsome Water features some 80 feet of "shoreline" where children can play and explore.

The exhibit is designed to give children at different stages of development different experiences, Stull said. The raceway at the top of the exhibit is for older children, while the calm pool at the bottom is more suited to children as young as 2 years old, she said.

Children can learn math and physics concepts from the exhibit, she said, such as how to measure and consider volume. They can also use water as an art form with the exhibit's slate wall, where temporary images can be created with water.

"Children will be able to paint with water," she said. "They can literally create pictures."

They also can crawl under the exhibit into a transparent bubble where they can view falling water from a unique perspective.

Vancouver artist Douglas Walker created a sculpture that includes a combination of copper piping, wheels, showerheads, gears and musical instruments that is suspended over the exhibit.

The birthday celebration on Saturday and Sunday, June 24 and 25, will include live entertainment, food and activities.

"We started in January of this year with the birthday kickoff," said Cassie Coffey, visitor services and membership team leader. "The museum's birthday is June 24, 1987."

The museum was launched by two educators, Louise Beem and Dorothy Carpenter.

"They basically drove around in a station wagon, bringing their exhibits to children in the area," said Coffey.

Eventually, they opened a children's museum in Wheaton. It moved to its current Naperville location in 2001, she said.

Birthday party activities will include making birthday-themed items in the museum's messy sensory station, making do-it-yourself party hats, face painting, excavating rubber ducks from frozen ice cubes and, if weather permits, painting with ice chalk and puffy paint on the sidewalks outside the museum.

"We planned all the activities to focus on STEAM concepts," she said. STEAM refers to incorporating science, technology, engineering, art and math concepts into an educational endeavor.

Ben's Bubble Show will be presented at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday and Mr. Freeze will present two shows, built around cryogenics, at 1 and 3 p.m. Sunday.

"Both days, we'll have confetti celebrations at 4:30," Coffey said.

There also will be a disc jockey playing music, a photo booth and mini-cupcakes donated by Whole Foods, while supplies last, she said.

The museum's Smart Café will be open for business during the celebration.

Stull said the museum is visited by more than 300,000 people each year.

"And that's trending up," she said.

Coffey said the museum is ready for a large turnout for the birthday bash and new exhibit opening.

"We will have over 100 staff and volunteers that will be working that weekend to cater to the public," she said.

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