At The New Children’s Museum (NCM), we’re on a mission to ignite curiosity, inspire creativity, and cultivate a love for learning. With our latest endeavors in the Innovators LAB Workshop and Drop-In Activity Space, we took young explorers on a journey of discovery and wonder.

As part of our ongoing theme, “Science Fiction Creates the Future,” we invited children to dream big and reach for the stars. Thanks to the generous grant support from the ResMed Foundation of this past month’s Innovators LAB Workshop and Drop-In Activity Space, children had the opportunity to explore science and creativity in a hands-on way, inspiring the next generation of innovators.

Welcoming Mithsuca Berry through our Innovators LAB Workshop:

On March 8, we welcomed artist Mithsuca Berry (they/them) to kick off their residency in our Innovators LAB Workshop. Drawing inspiration from the visionary works of Octavia E. Butler, Berry’s workshop sparked the imagination and ignited a passion for discovery in participants of all ages.

Over the month, participants dove into a world of hands-on learning as they created mini planters and planted seeds sourced from the Barona Indian Charter School Native Plant Garden. Through this immersive experience, children not only learned about native plant uses but also developed a deeper connection to their local ecosystems.

At the beginning of the workshop, we asked youth participants to think about what they want to grow in the future. They didn’t have to be physical things; some examples could include friendships, being taller, happiness, growing a mustache. Our Teaching Artists (TAs) even noticed a young girl who wrote on her pot “grow with love.”

To our young inspiring guests, the workshops in NCM’s Innovators LAB went beyond creativity; they instilled empathy and connected participants to the world around them. By learning about native plants and caring for their own mini gardens, children developed a sense of environmental stewardship from a young age, and maybe a sense of growth in themselves and their caregivers, like Jenny* and her grandmother.

One day this month, we had a grandmother and her granddaughter, Jenny, join the lab for the first time because Jenny had just turned 6. Jenny was excited to use the hot glue gun for the first time, which our TA showed her how to use safely. Jenny continued to add more things to her planter with much excitement. Her grandmother commented that she did a great job using the hot glue gun, and then shared with our TA that she has been raising Jenny herself since she was young and felt like she is usually a “helicopter parent” and was happy to see Jenny use the hot glue gun on her own. Our TA reassured Jenny’s grandmother that it’s important to trust the kids when making choices in art and, it’s okay for them to make mistakes too.

We are proud of this collaboration with our partners at the ResMed Foundation to develop and provide such a unique workshop. The artistic intentionality in “Planting Seeds” cultivated the ability in thousands of children this past month to envision and nurture the seeds of their futures, much in the same way Octavia E. Butler did.

*guest’s name changed for confidentiality

“Walk through the Cosmos” Debut:

In our Drop-In Activity Space, “Walk through the Cosmos” has made its debut and will be open until the end of June 2024. Featuring moon-like craters that simulate planetary terrains, this interactive space is a playground for imagination and exploration. Timed to coincide with NCM’s groundbreaking exhibition, Octavia E. Butler: Seeding Futures, this initiative pays homage to Octavia E. Butler’s visionary contributions to science fiction and NASA’s dedication to exploration. By immersing children in a space-themed environment, we honor the legacy of those who dared to dream beyond the stars.

Through these initiatives, we’re not just fostering creativity; we’re inspiring a sense of wonder and curiosity in the hearts of young explorers. Each workshop, each activity, is an invitation to embark on a journey of imagination and discovery. As we continue to explore the cosmos of possibilities at NCM, we invite you to join us on this adventure. Together, let’s spark the imaginations of future innovators, dreamers, and change-makers.

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