Have you had the talk with your kids yet about renewable energy? OK, it's probably not one of those topics on your discussion list right now, but a visit to a new exhibit at Kohl Children's Museum can make it something both kids and grown-ups want to talk about.
Powered by Nature is a new permanent exhibit at the museum that uses interactive stations to familiarize kids 3-8 with natural ways to power the earth.
The museum had already been using renewable resources, through solar panels and a wind turbine, when the staff decided they could expand what they were doing by educating kids on the topic.
"The Powered by Nature exhibit ties together everything we have operating," says Sheridan Turner, the museum's CEO. The museum staff worked with Argonne National Lab, as well as local teachers and parents, to design the exhibit.
The result is five interactive stations where children learn to conduct their own experiments using natural energy sources to discover the power of nature.
One of Turner's favorites is the windmill station, where kids can try out different blades on the windmills. "They can take different shapes of blades and different combinations of blades and when they turn the wind on, they can see which generates more energy, which turns into electricity, which lights up the apartment building."
Turner also says kids will enjoy the magnifying glass simulation where they can manipulate the sun to melt things, such as chocolate and an ice pop. When weather permits, the outdoor piece is a solar symphony with solar panels kids can maneuver.
"They can cover and uncover them and when the panel is in direct contact with the sun, it will turn on something like a carousel, which turns on musical instruments, and they get this beautiful music," she says.
The exhibit, which opened Nov. 1, is included in the price of the museum.