There is a sweet relationship between kiddos and things that go. Trains, trucks, bikes and scooters are delightful toys because they open up the idea of exploration. And aside from occasionally tripping on a HotWheels at 7 a.m. and swearing under my breath, I’m all for nurturing this sweet bond. What better way to show our kids the world than to teach them about the vehicles that let us explore?
When Kohl Children’s Museum debuted SpotHero Car Garage, my brain said “go” and that’s just what we did. A little backstory on the name: SpotHero is an app that can best be described as a parenting must have when it comes to nailing down designated parking in busy areas (think sporting events, parades, or city visits).
The exhibit layout is comprised of five zones:
Check-In Station: Children role-play as drivers and/or parking attendant
Design & Experimentation: Build a car and test it on three various landscapes
Tour: An imaginary road trip with notable locations across the country
Repair & Maintenance: Charge a car, master the air compressor and peruse a mechanic’s tool kit
Car Wash: This popular spot from the previous Car Zone remains within the new exhibit
“This new permanent exhibit builds upon our commitment to provide children a place to exercise their creativity and explore many STEM concepts,” said President and CEO Sheridan Turner.
“…Children are fascinated with vehicles, from designing and building them to testing and racing them.”
During our visit my son giddily jumped in the driver’s seat, raced through the car wash multiple times and carefully built his own car to race down an inclined track. When he struggled to assemble itty-bitty wheels, a friendly staffer was on hand to make suggestions and give demonstrations without taking over his automobile adventure.
I was most impressed with the exhibit’s commitment to technology and reinforcing environmental practices. As my son happily charged an electric car, I couldn’t help but marvel that this might one day prod his little mind into considering eco-friendly travel. Sure, hills and speed still seem to delight his car adventures now. But as we came away from SpotHero Car Garage, I was impressed with his questions: How long is a road trip? Where should we travel to in our car? When can we go to a city and drive down hills?
This inquisitiveness and happy curiosity is what makes me a big believer and supporter in the mission of Kohl Children’s Museum. Tripping over toy cars may be an unfortunate happenstance with parenting. But when you put those cars in motion and get the wheels turning in the minds of your little ones it’s pretty great to see wonder unfold.