By Sarah Colson
Cotton balls, electric drills, pipe cleaners and toilet paper rolls — what do these household items all have in common? They can be found this weekend at Hands On! Regional Museum’s Make it Take it exhibit.
Museum Executive Director Andy Marquart said the exhibit, which will run through the summer and is free with the price of admission, is designed to help parents and children, and everyone in between, connect on a creative level.
“We do live in a very digital world,” Marquart said. “Everybody has gone to a restaurant and seen a family of four sitting at a booth, all on their phones. What we want to do is break that routine and provide a medium where families can interact and talk to each other and experiment and open up their mind a little bit. … just sort of forget about the outside world and focus on the project that’s in front of them.”
Last week, three lucky homeschoolers got the chance to preview the exhibit. Brothers Isaiah (12) and Cameron (10) Spencer were visiting Hands On! with their friend Andrew Little (9). Seeing the opportunity to preview the exhibit, the three boys threw on their safety goggles and sat down at a nearby tool station.
“Um, let’s build something,” Isaiah said, giggling. “Here, let me grab a hammer.”
Meanwhile, little brother Cameron was working with a power drill and accepted some help measuring his supplies.
“It’s pretty cool and pretty fun,” Andrew said. “I’d like to maybe make a wooden boat or a picture frame.”
Andrew’s mom, Tabitha Little, said the exhibit is going to go great with their homeschool goals and curriculum.
“It gives them an experience to interact with other kids,” Little said. “It gives them a project to do, and then the accomplishment of making it to take home would be great.”
Each station, supervised by Hands On! staff, will have different materials to use. Most of those materials are common enough to be recognized by all visitors, Marquart said.
“A lot of the programs and workshops we do, like if we’re doing shark dissection or a workshop about nanobots or something, that’s very unfamiliar,” Marquart said. “But paper towel rolls, coffee filters, those kind of things make people comfortable. So we’re going to give them a challenge but the materials they work with will ease their minds and be familiar.”
Marquart said the idea of Make it Take it was inspired by his own childhood memories. “One of my favorite and most fond memories was that my grandpa would let me go in his workshop,” Marquart said, “and he would let me experiment and play and just use my imagination. Whatever tools were in front of me, or whatever materials I had, he would let me build whatever I felt like doing. That was some of the greatest bonding moments I had with my grandpa.
“We want families to put their phones away, and just make something, do something and be creative. … The older we get, it’s a little more difficult to unlock that creative side of ours. But kids are just ready to be creative. Putting families and children in that scenario together will open that creativity up.”
Marquart also said he hopes the exhibit will carry over into the lives of children and parents after they leave the museum.
“What they’re creating, it’s a memory. But also because we use common materials, there’s no reason why families can’t do this on their own and use this as a launch pad to do their own projects and have fun in their own space.”
To learn more about special exhibits at Hands On!, or to donate household supplies or other creative materials, visit handsonmuseum.org or call (423) 928-6509.