Exploring KiDiMu – Bainbridge Island’s Kids Discovery Museum
I think most people on Bainbridge, especially those with kiddies, are aware of the Kids Discovery Museum, aka KiDiMu, however, it’s more than just a children’s museum, it’s a community-oriented institution, geared towards not just learning, but fun too. I recently met with Corinne Wolffe, Executive Director and Kaitlin Chester, Director of Community Engagement and Outreach to learn more about the museum and its programs.
We started off our tour with the lower level, which includes the check-in area, museum store and several interactive exhibits where the kids can play and learn. We began with a quick look at the treehouse, a multi-story climbing adventure. Behind the treehouse you’ll find the new Creation Station, this area is still a bit of a “work in progress”, and is expected to be completed this winter. There will be workbenches, complete with hands on tools and a Rigamajig for the kids to build from. Now you might be wondering, just what is a Rigamajig? This hands-on “basic builder kit” is designed to inspire kids to imagine, invent and figure out how to bring those imaginative inventions to life. The Creation Station currently houses a Rigamajig with a chutes workshop.
We headed over to the Our Town Exhibit Hall, Corinne and Kaitlin explained that all of the Our Town exhibits were undergoing a refresh, pointing out the “veterinary office”, which had previously been a “doctor’s office”. Corinne noted that the vet office is a huge hit with the kids and one of the most popular exhibits on the lower level.
We moved on to the “bank” exhibit, where kids can learn about counting, and then the “grocery store”, by T&C Markets, where they can visually identify various grocery items, grab a shopping cart and learn how to check-out the items they select. They are working with T&C to create more collaborative programs and activities at both the museum as well as the market.
From there, we headed over to the “transportation” area, which has a life-size car, a ferry wheelhouse and several small pedal cars the kids can use to tootle around in. Kaitlin pointed out that all their exhibits inspire the kids to learn, count, read and explore.
From there we headed upstairs to the Math and Science Hall and Art Studio. As you head up, you’ll see a display of wall tiles, these were created by local kids as part of a Capital Campaign to raise funds for the museum in the late 2000s.
While the upstairs exhibits are for children of all ages, they’re particularly geared towards older kids (ages 7-10) and focus on math, science and technology. To the left you’ll find the “Mission to the Moon” exhibit, which features NISE (National Informal STEM Educators) activities including Design, Test, and Build (https://www.nisenet.org/catalog/design-build-test-activity) and Hide and Seek Moon (https://www.nisenet.org/catalog/exploring-solar-system-hide-and-seek-moon). On the right, you’ll find the NANO mini-exhibit (nanometer-sized things), which is on loan from Imagine Children’s Museum in Everett. According to Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network (NISE Network)* who created the exhibit, it is “an interactive exhibition that engages family audiences in nanoscale science, engineering, and technology. Hands-on exhibits present the basics of nanoscience and engineering, introduce some real-world applications, and explore the societal and ethical implications of this new technology.”
Moving on you’ll encounter a large interactive Lite-Brite board, where kids (and adults) can create their own designs. There’s also an Art Studio, which just reopened with a fresh new look. Corinne explained that the cabinets were refurbished by a local craftsman using reclaimed wood, fresh new paint, including a “chalkboard” wall and new tables and chairs. She pointed out that the tables were multi-functional, capable of telescoping up and down in order to accommodate children of all sizes, but also used as buffet tables for after-hour events (more on that later).
Of course, everything I’ve mentioned above probably sounds par for the course when it comes to a STEM centric children’s museum, but KiDiMu offers much, much more.
“KiDiMu is a hub for early childhood development, creating experiences centered on playful learning that supports the broader community and children’s current and emerging needs.”
The Preschool at KiDiMu – The program is a fun, play-based learning approach for children ages 3.5 – 5. They offer inclusive learning that fosters empathy, understanding and of course, education. Curriculum includes stories, music, movement, games, scientific exploration and plenty of free play, including daily nature walks and outdoor play. For more information, click here.
Camp @ KiDiMu – there are several summer camp programs that explore everything from reading, painting, building, science, exploration of the Puget Sound, nature, dinosaurs and even the enchanted and magical. For more details, click here.
They also offer a free enrichment program, MiniMu, for infants, toddlers and their parents to learn through play and interaction. You can meet other new parents, share experiences, discuss topics with each other and parenting educators.
They also offer several events throughout the year, and each month during First Friday Art Walk (Art Walk events are FREE and run from 1pm – 7pm). In addition, if you’re a member, you can enjoy special “member only” events and discounts, click here for details.
At the KiDiMu Store, you’ll find a variety of STEM related kits to engage and educate in fun and exciting ways. Kits include Constellations Creation, Rock Science, Rainbow Collage, Dinosaur Skeleton, and Webb Telescope.
Explore Bainbridge* activity books invite families to explore favorite destinations and historic locations around the island through STEM activities. Children will receive an activity book with guided instructions and directions to take them and their families to different locations to practice important early learning skills, books are available at the KiDiMu Store for $20.
Are you a Junior Ranger? KiDiMu also offers junior ranger badges for the Japanese Exclusion Memorial when the ranger stations are closed off season.
Parties, parties, parties! KiDiMu offers daytime and after hour birthday party packages. Want to party like an adult? They’ve got you covered – the museum also offers after hour adult parties, perfect for a company event, launch party, or just a party with a large group of friends. Click here for details.
Visiting Bainbridge? Bainbridge Island Lodging Association (BILA) is partnering with KiDiMu this winter to provide a fun and exciting experience for visiting/vacationing kids and their families. Overnight guests to Bainbridge Island can click the image to the right and print the coupon (or you can pick it up at KiDiMu) for a FREE Explore Bainbridge* booklet and take your kids on an educational and fun island adventure! The promotion will also be advertised in ParentMap’s Winter Adventure Guide, “It’s a big investment for BILA, and one we are happy to be making!” said Andrea Addington, Sales and Marketing Director at BILA.
*All the locations on the Explore Bainbridge map were chosen to be accessible for picnicking, bathroom accessibilities and stroller accessibility.
*The NANO mini-exhibit was created with support from the National Science Foundation.
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