Children are getting a chance to blast off into space, well metaphorically, thanks to an Indianapolis museum’s large space program for kids.
Even though kids won’t exactly be climbing abroad rockets and blasting off like Jimmy Neutron, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis hopes to give them something as close as possible. Investing around $8 million for the museum makeover, it will provide a closer look at space exploration and what astronauts go through in space, of course giving a personal look at astronauts from Indiana.
The exhibit, Beyond Spaceship Earth, was funded by major donations made from various groups including, Lilly Endowment Inc., the Heritage Group, and many more. Even NASA helped fund the large exhibition, but the museum received big help in other ways than just financial means. Former astronaut David Wolf worked together with the museum staff to design the entire exhibit. Providing his personal stories and expertise with the International Space Station and Russia’s Mir station.
Wolf came to be known as the museum’s first Extraordinary Scientist-in-Residence, and loved the opportunity. In a personal statement he expresses the wonder people will feel from the renovation, “Families are able to see the miraculous achievement of the International Space Station as it passes overhead”. The exhibit is broken down into multiple interactive and immense space experiences.
In the museum there will now be a walk through sections of a recreated International Space Station with a large emphasis on STEM lessons. The museum also had digital games developed with the help of the Entertainment Software Association Foundation, and these games give families a real look at an astronaut’s experience in space. The pre-existing planetarium is getting re-modeled as well, taking a new name, Schaefer Planetarium and Space Object Theater, and will show more artifacts such as famous space capsules. Working together with Purdue University, the museum will also be adding an “Astronaut Wall of Fame” to highlight the achievements of space wanderers from Indiana who changed the space program, including David Wolf himself.
The idea for the exhibit came from the low rankings of the United States in subjects like math and science. Hearing the U.S. Department of Education state that America is far behind other countries in the subjects caused President/CEO of the Children’s Museum, Jeffrey H. Patchen to question the stats. Having constantly seen the interest and wonder of children as they come to the museum, he came up with the exhibit to encourage more learning that incorporated the topics in a fun way.
The museum exhibit is bound to open in the summer, either in June or July.