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Finding Treasure in the Sand Box
Experimenting with Ramps
Checking out the Fossil Collection
A few Geodes
Young Paleontologists Excavating Fossils
Discovering Bones in the Forest

Nature and Science

The Nature and Science programs at Wonder Works include a broad range of hands-on activities for young children, created and implemented by Wonder Works’ resident scientist and early learning specialist, Eric Gyllenhaal. Nature and Science at Wonder Works takes place nearly every Friday, from 10am until noon and is covered by General Admission.

  • Each Friday we present a range of activities related to topic of the week: Some activities are playful and fun for all. Other activities are a bit more focused, aimed at children with a deeper interest in the topic.
  • Most activities are suitable for all ages. Some activities are aimed at toddlers, and others at 4-years old and up.
  • Eric and his volunteers work directly with the children on some activities. Other activities are self-directed or need the child’s caregiver to lend a hand.

The Wonder Works’ Nature and Science program includes a broad range of topics that will develop a number of early childhood skills. These include age-appropriate math, from counting to sorting to spatial reasoning; engineering related themes; use of various technologies such as magnifiers and digital microscopes, and scientific principles such as experimentation, discovery and cause and effect. Every week also includes an art or craft project in North Avenue Artworks.

January's Activities

January 6: Seashells and Sharks
To find out what lives in the salty sea, you can sift shells from sand, make a shell collection, and touch and sort colorful shells from around the world. Then stare into the tooth-filled jaws of preserved bull and sand sharks and collect fossil teeth from sharks that lived long ago. There will be lots of plastic and plush sea life in the Great Outdoors, plus smaller plastic sea life at the play dough table.

January 13: Transportation Works

Let gravity do the work as you race toy cars down ramps and through tunnels. Then let spinning wheels propel toy cars in to loop-de-loops around a battery-powered raceway. There will also be more wooden trains than usual, plus an O-scale model railway where you can take your turn as engineer. The play-dough table will be set up as a construction site, with diggers, dump trucks, and plastic construction workers. You’ll find more construction vehicles in our pebble-filled pool and in the art-room sandbox.

January 20: rocks for Play and Learning

We will have lots of rocks at Wonder Works today, including big rocks to touch, smaller rocks to sort, and tiny rocks to sift from the art-room sandbox. You also can collect coal and iron ore hauled by our O-scale model railway and rocks of many different colors. The play-dough table will be set up as a quarry, where diggers and dump trucks excavate rocks and crystals and wooden trains haul them all away.

January 27: What's Inside?

Today we will use our senses of touch, hearing, and sight to discover what’s inside a variety of natural and human-make objects. Reach inside a box and let your sense of touch tell you what it holds. Shake a container to see if you can tell what’s inside just by listening. We also look at X-rays of skeletons, break open pods and cut into fruits to find the seeds inside, and take apart toys to see if we can figure out how they work. There also will be magic tricks that you can figure out once you look below the surface.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to register in advance?
No registration is required, the Wonder Works' Nature and Science program is a drop-in program. Children can spend as much or as little time as they wish exploring the day's activities, and can come and go as they please.

How should I dress?
Some of the activities can be a little dirty, such as digging through soil to find bugs, but there shouldn't be anything that will stain clothing.

Is my child old enough?
Yes, your child is old enough. From toddlers to preschoolers, through first and second graders, there is something for everyone, each and every week.

Are there other related activities going on at the same time?
We try to have at least one art project in North Avenue Art Works correlate with the current week's Nature and Science Theme.

What do I get to take home?
Take homes vary week to week, some weeks children take home their art work from North Avenue Art Works, others they also take home collections of rocks, shark teeth or sand box treasures and more.