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El Paso Children's Museum unveils locally inspired exhibits

November 19, 2020
El Paso Children's Museum unveils locally inspired exhibits

Nine themed zones will shape the experience in the new El Paso Children’s Museum in downtown El Paso. The board of the museum worked with Gyroscope Inc. to create cutting-edge designs — including a 50-foot climber and areas focused on weather, air, water, and sound — which were unveiled digitally today. Gyroscope, based in Oakland, CA, created the S.T.E.A.M.-based visitor experience. It includes interactive zones to stimulate imagination, creativity, innovation, and lifelong learning — the result of extensive input from educators and area residents.

“The El Paso Children’s Museum is in a unique position to lead the museum field in access and inclusion by building bridges to different cultures, languages, abilities and ages. It will promote innovation, creativity, and career development through local/global connections, dreaming big and the belief that anything is possible,” said Tasha Leverette, Owner and Chief Action Officer of Gyroscope. “The blue sky that connects all of us around the world was the inspiration that came directly from the El Paso community for Gyroscope’s exhibit designs.”

“What’s great about this venue is that it is about people and fun, not necessarily ‘education’,” said Eric Pearson, CEO of the El Paso Community Foundation. “Kids are going to learn through wonder and curiosity, self-directed activities, and a place full of chances to fail or succeed — and then try again, which is the best education possible.”

“The exhibit designs revealed today further demonstrate our commitment to families in our community. We will provide a children’s museum experience that is unmatched in this region and one that will make the El Paso Children’s Museum a world-class venue. To date, our fundraising efforts are on track and we look forward to building even more support as we work towards a successful opening two years from now,” said Josh Hunt, Board Chair for the El Paso Children’s Museum.

“We are thrilled to be able to share the great news about the museum’s advancements because the creation of this museum will help cultivate the imagination and draw out the beautiful gifts our children have to offer,” said City Manager Tommy Gonzalez. “This museum, from the building design to the exhibits, is part of a larger partnership with the many members of our community who are telling us what they want from their Children’s Museum.”

The nine zones each will include areas for families and anyone from toddler to teen.

Gyroscope collaborated with 12 local school districts, three universities, and the public to create the concepts. Partners — such as local artists, Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Cultural Center, Fab Lab El Paso, La Rodadora, Paso Del Norte Children’s Development Center, and the University of Texas at El Paso — helped develop the experiences. The exhibitions will focus on local and global connections, cross-border experiences, and the unifying principle that the “Blue Sky” connects us all. The museum will be bilingual and will include ways to customize each visitor’s experience.

Eight of the nine zones are listed and described below. The 9th zone will be revealed at a later date.

ANYTHING’S POSSIBLE CLIMBER/ESCALA, EXPLORA Y ENCUENTRA: The 50-foot climber is a gross-motor exploration that encourages visitors to test their physical and problem-solving limits. Surprising features and patterns are hidden throughout, with opportunities to capture progress through the climber. It will be an iconic, “wow’ experience, including a wheelchair challenge course on the 4th level.

BIG SKIES/GRANDES CIELOS: Visitors become weathercasters, engineers, sea captains, and astronomers as they learn to predict the weather, engineer an earthquake-resistant structure, harness renewable energy, or navigate a research vessel through a storm.

DESERT BLOOM/FLORECIENDO EN EL DESIERTO: Our youngest visitors (birth to 3) will have a dedicated area to safely roll, crawl, walk, and run. Inspired by the Chihuahuan Desert, it has a large program space, tactile and gross-motor activities, a wobbling web, and a sensory light-art sandbox. Auditory interactives have been designed for babies and toddlers to practice speech sounds, such as “oo,” “ee,” “ah,” “sh/ch,” and “mm.”

FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCTS/SIGUE TUS INSTINTOS: Targeted to ages 4 to 7, this zone invites children to explore animals through dramatic role play, and to think about careers with animals. Children can use their imaginations to build forts and create environments, including a glow-in-the-dark cavern, to bring stories to life. Exploring careers as veterinarians, children can use a video microscope, MRI, and X-ray reader to diagnose and treat their animal patients.

FLY HIGH/VUELA ALTO: Design, build and launch paper airplanes in a giant test flight path over the Franklin Mountains. Analyze your flight data and try again to avoid turbulence, updrafts, and crosswinds. Record your angle at takeoff, refine your plane’s design, and figure out how to hit the “Star on the Mountain” target.

MAKING WAVES/ENTRE RUIDOS Y SONIDOS: This zone offers a multi-sensory exploration of sound waves, music, and instrument making. Visitors can program a giant marimba, feel music through a vibrating platform, and record their own music videos.

FLOW/TAN CLARO COMO EL AGUA: Transform everyday experience into science. Giant toilets, dishwashers, showers and sinks are really siphons, vortexes, pumps, and simple machines. This indoor/outdoor zone will include windows into the pump room to showcase how the water is being treated and recycled, emphasizing water as a precious commodity. And you can get wet.

CHALLENGE IT/PROBANDO TU INGENIO: Visitors explore a variety of engineering challenges, from designing and testing cars and boats to coding a giant LED cube and using 3D printers and laser cutters in open-ended maker activities. The exhibits and programs are platforms for challenges that provoke creativity, innovation, and learning through perseverance.

The museum, a special project of the El Paso Community Foundation, the City of El Paso, and other community stakeholders, broke ground in October, when the design of the museum was unveiled by Snøhetta, a world-renowned architecture firm headquartered in New York and Oslo, Norway, with El Paso connections. The project is expected to be complete in 2022.

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For more information about Gyroscope, please visit gyroscopeinc.com.

For more information on EPC Museum, please visit epcmuseum.org.