Between iPads and video games, it's clear that your kids are
living in an electronic world. But when that little battery icon
starts to blink or your house loses power, do they understand what
it means or just whine about being bored?
That's where DuPage Children's Museum comes in. The new exhibit,
AWESome Electricity!, helps with both the understanding
and the boredom, thanks to interactive elements that
explain how electrical power is generated and how electrical
currents move. And it aims to point kids to the future by exploring
alternate forms of energy.
"We know that children need to understand and care about
something before they can think about implications for the
environment," says Marcia MacRae, interdisciplinary arts
specialist for the museum.
So the museum worked with a sculptor to create an exhibit that
resembles something kids naturally love: an amusement park, full of
bright lights and games. Kids can ride a bicycle to generate power,
test the conductivity of different materials, race cars around a
track, and even make acrobats go soaring through the air.
MacRae says the museum considers the exhibit a pilot, meaning it
will continue to expand and change in the future. She says they
hope one day to tie it into the museum's popular air and water
exhibits to demonstrate how natural elements can help generate
Although AWESome Electricity! is aimed at kids 5 and up, MacRae
says even the youngest children will have their interest piqued by
the fun activities.
And the next time your child plugs the family laptop into a wall
outlet, MacRae hopes he or she will think about where the
electricity is coming from and how it is created-and then ideally,
start to consider their own responsibilities as stewards of the
"We want to generate interest in this topic because it is
incredibly important, MacRae says. "When you start to get
children involved and you connect with them, that's when they start
to care. It needs to start early."
Elizabeth Diffin is the associate editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.
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