Saturday, March 19, 2016

A Child's Eye View of the new Scott Family Amazeum in Bentonville.

Take a look at the new interactive center just for kids, which offers physical activities, educational opportunities and the chance to play with (fake) dinosaur bones, food and water in Bentonville's up and coming museum district.

On the final day of our epic road trip along US Highway 71 from the Louisiana border to the Missouri state line, Hunter and I spent the day in Bentonville exploring two great facilities.  We'd get to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art later in the day, but for now, we were headed to the Scott Family Amazeum.

The museum, named in recognition of contributions made by former CEO of Walmart Lee Scott and his family, opened in July 2015 after nearly 10 years of planning.  The 50,000 square-foot state-of-the-art museum features interactive exhibits and activity areas, including a water playground, tinkering lab and the Hershey's Lab, the only one outside of Hershey's headquarters.

The first thing you should know as a parent is that your first visit may be overwhelming.  There is a lot to do, for kids.  If you're the sort of parent that gets into the action, you'll have a pretty good time.  But (with the exception of the chocolate
lab, which we missed out on getting a reservation for) this is a facility for kids.  It celebrates being a kid while giving them the chance to learn and cooperate.

Of course, being a children's activity center, there are a lot of kids. And I know there are a lot of parents out there who are sensitive about having the faces of their children on the internet.  I have edited our photos with this in mind.

This staircase leads patrons to a second floor for birthday parties and social
gatherings.  It includes the names of different attractions you'll find all
over northwest Arkansas.

When you first enter, a learning lab is to the left.  This area includes watercolor play on the
windows.  As you can see, there are aprons.

Hershey's operates a chocolate lab, which is on the right when you enter the kid's area.  It's free, but you have to sign up for the limited space available.  Next time we visit, I'm going to make sure to get us on that list.

There's a market area a few feet beyond the learning lab, and it's full of different products that
kids can pretend to make, sell, purchase and place.  It's fascinating, especially for younger kids.
A little further on and around the corner, there's a homestead replica, which shows what life must have once been like in rural Arkansas.  Inside, there's a bed and small kitchen where kids can "prepare" meas of items they harvested on this little farm.
Here, kids can "dig up" potatoes and carrots from a play garden.

These "trees" bear apples for harvest, along with a lesson about the
different sort of apples you'll discover in these parts.

Like any good farm, this one includes a cow.

From there, Hunter and I went on into a dinosaur exhibit.  Here, kids can learn how dinosaur fossils are recovered and what we can learn from them.

There's even an area where a child can use tools to clear dirt and sand from"fossils."

This guy can give you an idea of how large dinosaurs were in comparison to humans.
Hunter loves tinkering, and this afternoon's project was animation cells.

The objective - paint or color in twelve cells on a strip to create a short animation.

When complete, each participant's strip is put into this drum, which is spun.  The animation can be seen through those slots.

Here's Hunter's animation.

In this relaxing little cave, kids and their parents can sit along the sides or sprawl on pillows on the floor and watch an animation on the screen above that shows the undersides of things, from animal paws to spilled liquids.
Nickelodeon has an entire play lab on site with several interactive activities, including a shadow theater and stop motion capture animation video screen.

There's also this neat musical sculptre where kids can beat, tap, rattle and plonk their own music.

Hunter was fascinated with the Ballroom, which was a vacuum tube crowd sculpture where tubes and pipes are arranged to create air pathways for soft balls.  She's really good at this.

There's also a vacuum tube section around the corner for sucking balls and scarfs through transparent conduits and seeing where they go.

An entire section is dedicated to show the process of moving materials and finished products around.  Kids use conveyor belts to send little blue, green and red blocks up to another level on a conveyor, pick them off a horizontal belt and send them to bins where it all begins again.  Most of the activity takes part around this converted Walmart big rig, which is accessible to climb around on and inside.

We didn't bring swimsuits and didn't want to fuss with getting wet, so we left the Nature Valley waterplay area for another visit.

And Hunter did check out the aviary above via rope bridge.
The Scott Family Amazeum is a whole lot of fun for kids that are close to Hunter's age (she's seven).  Older kids may find some of the exhibits unchallenging, and toddlers might have a hard time interacting with larger kids.  But this museum is fun and there's a whole lot to do.  Hunter is already looking forward to her next visit.

For more information, check out the Scott Family Amazeum website.  You'll find it at the driveway entrance to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, which was our next and final stop for the day.

Share our experiences - click here to see where else we went on our epic road trip along US Highway 71 from the Louisiana border to the Missouri state line.

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