Rediscovering Wise Wonders
by anna rogers | photos by arianna skoog
Wise Wonders Science and Discovery Museum reopened its doors in April for the first time since the pandemic caused its shutdown in 2020. The museum is back in action and used the year for expansion, growth, and new ideas. The floor is filled with its usual areas for discovery, play, and exploration, but you won’t find the space the same as it was.
The museum's mission is still to engage curious, creative, and scientific minds in a playful learning environment for all children and families. Efforts have been redoubled to continue to bring this mission to fruition for the community. The Wise Wonders team, fueled by incredible community support and new grants and funding, has created a space that's fresh, innovative, and worth rediscovering.
The museum's entire floor and layout have been revamped, keeping some of the popular exhibits like the water table (of course!) and adding new and exciting exhibits to the mix. The entire space received a design facelift – new murals and artwork abound. The toddler area has been converted to space-themed, the ball wall expanded, and the city updated. The engineering area has been reimagined – with a huge Lego wall, tables for littles, big kids, and parents to build Legos, and an earthquake to test the strength of the structures!
Kids can explore the sound of science on a baby grand piano, test magnetic strength on a giant magnet wall, dig for fossils, peer through telescopes, and discover the complex intrigue of simple machines. There is something for everyone to enjoy in the new space!
The museum is working on some partnerships to create a medical-focused area in the future. There are also plans to build a "Makerspace" on the second floor – a hands-on, interactive space for problem-solving experiments and science projects. Funding has already been secured for this project, and the vision will soon be coming to life.
The revamped design and new additions are all part of a general refocus of the museum to be a space that engages kids as they grow. Wise Wonders hopes to transition into a place that brings awe and wonder to children beyond the toddler and early elementary years – a place big kids can enjoy too! The goal is to create a science and discovery museum as well as programming that captivates children, teens, and adults alike as it engages with the community in new and exciting ways.
The engineering section is especially geared toward older kids, and the upstairs space will play host to more advanced science experiments.
In addition to the focus on creating a big-kid friendly space, the museum is refocusing efforts to ensure children can play and learn through the museum's resources at home or school. In the last year, Wise Wonders received a large grant to build a kit program for families and teachers – at home or in the classroom.
Families and teachers can rent or purchase STEM-centered learning kits and games to enjoy outside of the museum. The kits explore the solar system, light and shadows, temperature, and electricity. Build “crazy contraptions,” wind turbines, microscopes, and electronics.
Kits for purchase have non-reusable elements, and thus, can be purchased and picked up from the museum. Wise Wonders currently offers body system kits for purchase in two separate grade-level groups: K-3 kits and 4-7th grade kits. Rentable kits will be introduced one by one on the website. Some kits to look out for will be robotics and circuits! Board games are also available for rent as a fun way to get children engaged in STEM concepts.
The museum's refocused efforts bring more learning and discovery to kids in the community, with so many opportunities to explore and engage.
If you have never checked out Wise Wonders, now is the time! If you think you know Wise Wonders, think again! And if you stopped coming because your kids grew up, check out the new space designed with big kids in mind. Rediscover Billings’ only Science and Discovery Museum.
Plan a visit and make the kids’ day. Enjoy a cup of coffee from Ebon and a few moments to yourself while your children are engaged in all the new offerings at the museum. Rent or purchase a learning kit or board game. Stay connected and informed about new exhibits and programming through the Wise Wonders website.
The museum’s ability to evolve and grow is made possible by this generous community. If you’re passionate about STEM learning and children’s access to education through engaging play, consider a donation to the Wise Wonder Science and Discovery Museum.
- Discover online learning resources and learn more about the museum at WiseWonders.org.
- Head to WiseWonders.org/kits for kit rentals and purchases.
- Explore themed science Summer Camps at Wise Wonders!
- 4 sessions in June & July, Monday through Thursday 9am-12pm | Littles: 4-7, Bigs: 8-11
Originally printed in the May 2021 issue of Simply Local Magazine
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Anna Rogers is a transplant from the Carolinas with a background in marketing and graphic communications. She is a wife and mother who loves to garden, cook, and practice yoga. Anna is passionate about travel, which at its core is really a passion for people, as she believes people and community are what truly bring life and beauty into a place.