Sunday, July 31, 2011

PlayWatch: Discovery Studio

This post was contributed by Museum intern Sara Sargent.

Recently in Discovery Studio, I witnessed a young boy’s excitement as he explored bridge building using colorful puzzle blocks.

After forming several shapes with the blocks, he turned to me and asked, “What else can you make with these blocks?” I gave him a few suggestions but he already had his own idea of what he wanted to do. He proclaimed, “I’m going to build a bridge!”

As he played with the blocks, he found that his bridge wouldn’t stay up. I offered a challenge for him to find another material to help support his block bridge. He immediately brought over the triangle blocks from another table and started to stack them, but he said, “It’s kind of hard with the triangles.” I told him that triangles are actually one of the strongest shapes and that engineers use triangles to build bridges in real life. “Oh!” He exclaimed, “I could stack them on top of each other! I’m going to make a pyramid because triangles are strong.”

After placing the triangle blocks on top of each other and realizing that his plan was working, he proclaimed to his mother and siblings who were watching and helping him, “So that’s why they call this the discovery room!”

He placed the last block on the top and placed the original puzzle blocks over the triangles to form the bridge. The bridge held for a little while and then tumbled down, but he had a huge grin on his face. His mother said that it was time to leave the studio. As they left I asked if they had been to the Iway exhibit. The boy excitedly told his mother that he wanted to go there next so he could continue to discover new ways to build bridges.

This moment captures a window into the learning that goes on in an open-ended play environment and how children who visit Discovery Studio understand what it’s all about: discovering through hands-on exploration.

Click here to learn more about Discovery Studio and how it was created.

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