MCM has a wonder-filled surprise in store when it opens its newest exhibit experience WonderBox, a 1,500 square foot science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) exhibit in the museum’s existing arts gallery. WonderBox will be a makerspace that will encourage open-ended exploration of topics such as design, art, coding, robotics, engineering, and circuitry, and also offer skills-based guided STEAM programming.
WonderBox began as a part of the work of the Mississippi Children’s Museum-Meridian, which incorporated a makerspace concept into the exhibit designs for the new museum. MCM’s WonderBox exhibit will have its own unique features but will share similar programming and an emphasis on exploring Mississippi’s unique culture of innovation.
“When you say STEAM, people’s reactions often are ‘I don’t know how to do that,’” says Kate Perry, MCM Assistant Director of Exhibits. “With WonderBox, we wanted to create a space that would make STEAM concepts approachable so that anyone can come in and have makers experiences regardless of their existing knowledge or skill set.”
The exhibit will have an interchangeable display highlighting three themes: Mississippi Firsts, Fun from Mississippi, and Mississippi Culture. WonderBox will incorporate both technological elements like a 3-D printer and pens, robotics, and circuitry, as well as making activities using simple, strategically incorporated objects. It will utilize interactive exhibit components to challenge visitors to create and test out their creations. A full-sized Lite Brite will be one of the exciting new features.
WonderBox was conceived as both a physical exhibit and as a take-home experience too. MCM has partnered with Central Creativity in Laurel, MS to develop and produce WonderBox kits. These kits change seasonally and provide everything that a family needs to complete four different STEAM-based activities.
“These kits are makerspace experiences on-the-go. They have been designed so the entire family can participate. Our hope is that they can be a way for families to get comfortable with manipulating materials and that they can be a gateway for future STEAM exploration,” says Perry.
WonderBox in Meridian will be available for exploration when MCM-Meridian opens in Spring 2021. WonderBox at MCM, which was funded by Entergy, an Institute of Museums and Library Services Museums for America grant, and a Hearst Foundations grant, is expected to open in Summer 2021.