Santa Barbara can now add a hands-on learning 21st century kid’s museum to it’s line-up of irresistible lures.  Bursting with cutting edge creative outlets for mini innovators and inventors, SoCal’s newest science center is three full floors dedicated to the power of play and the great joy of learning.  Cancel your current weekend plans, because MOXI (official name: MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation) is your new destination.

Bring Them Your Curious Masses, Yearning for Learning
Questions are not just welcome, they’re encouraged.  And as for looking-not-touching? No way! Here  exhibits and experiences are all kid-centric, with an aim to inspire and ignite those spectacular synapses with hands on exploration.  Get in there.  Get inventive.  Get inside the guitar.  The philosophy at MOXI is that engagement and enjoyment are an excellent gateway to education.  With over 40 employees and nearly 100 volunteers at large to help guide, answer and take questions one step further, this place will permanently alter their definition of a museum to a place with zero intimidation and 100% approachability.

Something For Everyone, Or Everything for Everyone
There are so many that we’d say there’s something for every child, but honestly they’re all so cool that even if kids think that subject isn’t for them, they’ll get sucked into each and every one.  Designed in partnership with with Gyroscope Inc. and created by Creative Machines, Roto and the Science Museum of Minnesota, the seven total exhibits braid science, technology, engineering, arts and math into thematic interactive play lands that are as trail blazing as they are touchable.  Over 3 floors kids currently will experience: The Tech Track, the Sound Track, Fantastic Forces Courtyard, the Speed Track, the Light Track, the Interactive Media Track and the Sky Garden.

A Peek into Each Exhibit
The Tech Track: Featuring what’s new and what’s next.  Here the process of creating technology is streamlined and made accessible, complete with a maker space of designing their own, with technological tools at their fingertips at the Innovation Workshop.

The Sound Track: Be one with your favorite riff from inside  the 8’ tall, 24’ long guitar, giving new meaning to feeling the music.  The Reactable brings DJ fantasies to life, while a visit to Foley Studios allows them to create their own sound effects for film.  This feature will generate several return trips, guaranteed.  The immediate feedback and hearing their own sound accompaniment is addictive.

Fantastic Forces Courtyard: Test flight in the Wind Column Workshop, launch an air rocket, and get cozy with gravity, magnetism, propulsion and centripetal force at the base of a three story courtyard that soars up into the glass ceiling of the Sky Garden.  Fizzy lifting fun, and reminiscent of how Grandma used to deposit checks before ATMs. 

The Speed Track:  WOOSH.  Watch them build their own race car and let ’er rip on the Muzzy Family Speed Track, where real time speed and impact is recorded.  The marble roller coaster prototype is hopelessly engaging, too.  Both of these features could be a day unto themselves. 

The Light Track: Behold the beauty of color and light! The massive Light Brite is retro fun for all.  Make rainbows with the Color Mixing Machine, and once they experiment with Mosaic Faces, they’ll never look at selfies the same again.  You can even email images to yourself at home.

Interactive Media Track:  Hydrogen-like atoms come alive.  Among digital interactive showcases, kids can get up close and personal with the latest advents in new media arts and technology. 

The Sky Garden:  Those Santa Barbara vistas mingle with water and wind features in this cherry on top of the museum-sundae.  Telescopes can help them see to the ocean and water features let them pump and play and interact with it.  The glass ceiling that can be seen from the bottom up or the top down will have them going up and down those stairs like it’s nothing. 

Central Coast Comeuppance
Located on lower State St., this 17,000 square foot nucleus of exploration and innovation, 25 years in the making, is an instantaneous magnet for families.  While there is no dedicated parking lot, finding a space on the side streets is unexpectedly easy. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. and admission is $10 for kids 3-12 and $14 for ages 13 & up.  Membership starts at $130/family for a year, and even if you live far away, you’ll want to be back so frequently that membership is a fantastic option.

With the beach a few blocks down, and cafes lining every adjacent street, everything from analytics to experiments to sound production will quickly become habit forming.  Bring a passion for lifelong learning, or just pick one up while you’re there.

MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation
125 State St.
Santa Barbara
805-770-5000
Online: moxi.org

Have you been to MOXI?  We’d love to hear your favorite thing about this amazing new Children’s Museum.

—written and photographed by Jolie Loeb