Innovate. Experiment. Create. Imagine. Generate. No, these aren’t the lyrics to some forgotten verse from the INXS classic. They’re the driving forces behind the new Imaginate Exhibit at the Pacific Science Center. An exhibit that celebrates the creative mind that turns a cardboard box into a pirate ship (argh, matey!), a simple stick into Harry Potter’s wand (Expelliramus!), and couch cushions into an impenetrable fortress (bring in the Trojan rabbit!). Sound familiar? We thought so. And it’s the reason your kids will be drawn to this awesome new exhibit. They’ll see a little of themselves in the inventiveness of it all. So get ready to create the Next Big Thing at this super cool, hands-on exhibit.

Tube play Imaginate

The Exhibit
The Imaginate exhibit celebrates the marriage between imagination and creativity that leads to innovation and invention, and it’ll surely ignite that innate curiosity in your little ones. Developed by the Ontario Science Center, this traveling exhibit is full of the hands-on yummy goodness that kiddos crave. They’ll get a chance to design, compose, race, dance and fly all within the space of Building 4. And whatever their interests, there’s sure to be something that appeals to them. Because this exhibit has it all when it comes to inventing, from useful ideas inspired by nature to the creative arts. Who knew that picking burrs caught in a dog’s fur would spark the idea for Velcro? Or that scientists have developed a portable, inexpensive straw that cleans and purifies water as you drink through it? Pretty cool, huh? These are just some of the awesome tidbits you’ll pick up as you wander (and wonder) around.

Touch Table Imaginate boy

Let’s Do it!
In true Pacific Science Center style, there’s much to discover (and do!) at Imaginate. Your little ones will barely be through the door before they’re off and exploring, calling “Hey, Mom, over here!” as they bee line it to whatever’s caught their eye. The whole place is designed to pique that hard-wired kiddo curiosity and start their grey matter motors running! Here’s a little something to whet your appetite and spark your interest. These are a few of the activities in the exhibit that make us want to dot our i’s with little hearts because we love them so much (it was oh so hard to choose!). But we don’t want to spoil all the fun. They’re merely a tasty sampling of what you’ll discover during your visit.

The Sound Room
Prepare to bust a move while DJ Jazzy Junior spins a cool mix at the Sound Room Jam Challenge. Think of it as a cross between a Glee mash-up and a short DJ session in a Star Trek-like room for your youngster. The awesome touch screen walls make it easy for wee ones to compose a rocking jam. All they do is touch the screen and they’ve laid the beat. Touch it again and they’ve got the melody. A few more touches to find silly sounds like dripping water, crashing symbols or giggling and they’ve got themselves an audio masterpiece. It’ll keep them busy for hours. And the ease of the touch screens makes this activity accessible to kids of every age and size. Just be ready to give the little ones a boost.

Interactive Dance Floor
Right outside the sound booth you’ll find two interactive dance floors. We love this activity because even early walkers (and crawlers!) get a chance to play and create at this station. Balloons fly around at the touch of a foot, light bulbs turn on and off, and water ripples in a virtual tide pool as you walk over it, or poke as it, as the little ones are inclined to do. It’s sure to elicit squeals of delight from your tiny tots as they dance and jump around on this ever-changing flooring.

Sound Wall Imaginate

Friction Experiments
What kid doesn’t love racing objects down a slide? Whether it’s Hot Wheels, rocks or each other, it’s a much-loved tot lot pastime. Here’s a chance for the kiddos to take it to the next level, as they experiment with different materials on different surfaces and the resulting friction between them. Tiny scientists can assemble their own wood block racers and then line ‘em up on any one of 4 different surfaces to make a timed comparison. The possibilities will keep them guessing and predicting race after race after race. It’s a wonder(ful) way to spend an afternoon!

Craft Stations
The final stage of inspiration is creation, and the kiddos will have ample opportunities to create anything their little hearts dream up at either of the two well-stocked craft stations. These bad boys are stocked with some super-fun and truly unusual materials meant to inspire. We’re talking bouncy balls, lei flowers, and sponges for starters. What inspired new creation will your little inventor dream up here? Remember to watch your littles around the scissors and (the coolest possible) hot glue guns, both of which hang low to the ground for easy reach. Pre-schoolers might also need a hand with these while they’re busy creating something magical.

Imaginate craft station wall

Let’s Plan it!
Imaginate is a great place to let your mind explore indoors. So whether you’re seeking shelter from the storm (ahh, rainy Seattle summer days), or shade from the heat (Seattle kiddos can only take so much sun, ya know), this is the place to be. The exhibit is least busy on the weekdays right when the museum opens (10:00 am) or after 2:00 pm until they close at 5:00 pm. And if you’re wondering about weekend times, try getting there when the museum opens because it should be a little less crowded then. Whenever you go, set aside at least 90 minutes to explore. Your kiddos won’t want to miss out on one minute of this engaging exhibit!

How Much Does it Cost?
Entrance to Imaginate is included with your general museum admission (members are free), so be sure to enjoy some of your everyday faves while you’re there too. The 2-story Wellbody Academy exhibit’s another great way to learn and play at the museum. Or take a loop in the Tropical butterfly house then head to the Planetarium for a stellar show. There are lots of ways to play at this family-favorite, downtown destination!

Imaginate kinetic art little girl

Pacific Science Center
200 2nd Avenue North
Seattle, Wa 98109
Phone: 206-443-2001
Online: pacificsciencecenter.org

Imaginate Exhibit
Dates: June 1 – September 2
Cost: $14 adults; $11 youth (6-15); $9 kids (3-5); Free for members
Hours: Monday – Friday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm; Weekends and holidays 10:00 am – 6:00 pm

What do you think of this new exhibit at PSC? Do you think you and your kiddos will give it a try? 

–Allison Sutcliffe

Photos courtesy of Pacific Science Center