After two years of planning and a month and a half of on-site construction, one of the most popular exhibits at the Children’s Museum of South Dakota is set to reopen on Tuesday, Nov. 13.
The new water table features a hand-pump powered water wheel, a large whirlpool, a ball stacker and overhead ball track, racing rivers, and more.
“Splash is the favorite exhibit for many guests who visit the museum. When reimagining it we had a lot to live up to, so we took the best components of the old table that fit our philosophy and expanded on them,” says Associate Director Mike Mogard.
The design process took more than two years and involved an exhibit committee, research, and ideas from children, and the expertise of the team at Boss Display Corporation who installed the new table.
Last fall, a group of students from local elementary schools took part in a program called Innovation Learning Lab and spent time observing Splash and documenting their impressions. They took time to wonder what was happening and shared with each other the things they noticed about the space. Museum staff members used this information to learn which parts of the old exhibit were the most compelling and engaging.
“The biggest result was the whirlpool area. Students were fascinated by the vortex in the first table but they couldn’t engage with it because it was too high. So in the new rendition, we brought it down so guests would be able to feel and explore how the water moves and reacts.” says Mogard.
Mogard also spent time at Camelot Elementary School as an Educator for a Day where he asked students to imagine what they would create if they were in charge of designing the water room. Many students drew movable parts that could travel from space to space.
This idea came to life in one area of the water table, the sink and float area, where lily pads, turtles, and frogs are featured. Another highlight of the new exhibit is a ball blower where balls are sucked to the ceiling and land in a track where they take two possible routes to other features in the room.
True to the room’s name, Splash can get guests wet. But they also learn along the way. With curiosity, problem-solving, and observation, all visitors will be using their imagination to create a brand-new water-filled adventure.