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'Tinkering' in Lehi lets kids and adults explore the world

Published July 25, 2013 11:20 am

Hands on • Guests can play with pulleys, paper airplanes and more in 20-plus activities.
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Lehi • Sixteen-year-old Justin Carver wraps giant rubber bands around 20 pulleys hoping to power four fans, while 14-year-old Tyler Penrod builds a "scribbling robot" using a small basket, a mini motor, markers and a hot glue stick.

All around the room, children and adults work with pulleys, computer circuits, turntables, paper airplanes, bicycle wheels and video and animation systems — and this is supposed to be a dinosaur museum.

"Tinkering," a new exhibit at Thanksgiving Point's Museum of Ancient Life, features more than 20 interactive activities that visitors can tinker with and explore.

"Here is a space where [families] can learn together by following their own curiosities," said curator Lori Millward.

The new exhibit replaces "Sound of Listening" and will be open through next June.

Learning experts at San Francisco's world-renowned Exploratorium developed the exhibit, which came to Thanksgiving Point through an agreement with the Exploratorium Network. Like the exhibits at the Exploratorium, "Tinkering" caters to people of all ages and offers learning that feels more like playing. Toddlers learn simple stacking and patterns playing with blocks. Older children learn cause and effect, while teenagers and adults are taught the science behind what they see and create.

"We're trying to help people understand that learning doesn't end when you become an adult," Millward said.

Thanksgiving Point's mission is to provide families opportunities to learn together through shared experiences. Together, families learn teamwork and critical thinking while listening to the ideas of individuals.

"Adults have the opportunity to learn from their kids or grandkids," Millward said. "They can see how kids can understand hard concepts if they're allowed to follow their own ideas."

Diane Schiess brought her three grandchildren to the museum — best-known for its dinosaur collection. But all the kids wanted to do was tinker.

"They're having such a good time," Schiess said. "They don't even care about the dinosaurs."

Thanksgiving Point plans to open a fully interactive museum, the Museum of Natural Curiosity, next year. If "Tinkering" — which looks more like a preschool play room than a museum exhibit — proves to be a success, it's likely that Curiosity will be a hit as well.

"It might be noisy, it might be a little messy," Millward said. "But all of that is productive. It's important in a museum like this."


Time to 'Tinker'

"Tinkering" is a new exhibit featuring more than 20 activities. Guests can play with pulleys, computer circuits, turntables, paper airplanes, bicycle wheels, video and animation systems.

Where • Thanksgiving Point's Museum of Ancient Life, 3003 N. Thanksgiving Way, Lehi.

When • Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Closed Sunday.

Cost • Monday-Thursday: adults $10, children (3-12) and seniors (65+) $8; Friday-Saturday: adults $12, children and seniors $10. Children 2 and younger are free.