AirWorks & WaterWays Science

Exploring Science-Based Play at DuPage Children’s Museum
AirWorks
and WaterWays present hands-on ways to discover the power, force, and beauty of wind and water. Exhibit areas are designed without signage; families intuitively explore and experiment with flow turning visits into powerful STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math-based) experiences.

In the 6-foot diameter transparent tunnel, wind becomes a tangible force in a child’s life. Outside the tunnel, everyone can watch as children experiment within the chamber. The wind tunnel has amazing currents of air blowing; children test its force by throwing Frisbees or flying streamers. Wearing a superhero cape over their shoulders, kids feel as strong as the gusting wind. At Awesome AirWays, a corresponding wall mounted interactive, children propel foam balls and scarves into the transparent tubes to watch them get sucked through the air system. The built-in compressor makes the air flow, but children control a series of valves that enable them to change the path of an object at junction points.

At the Sink and Float Water Table, children learn how to harness the power of water as they play with waterwheels and push tugboats along its streams. Children experience a dry and unique perspective of an underwater world when popping up underneath the acrylic domes. Long and wavy, the table provides ample room for a crowd and allows everyone to find their place at its edge. Its height varies in locations, providing an appropriate space for even the smallest of visitors to watch objects float or sink. When the Fast Flow Water Table’s overhead tank fills with water, children discharge it, creating a fast, flowing river. The table is sharply angled so water surges down. Children control the water’s path, building dams in hopes of flooding the premises. It is designed to never overflow, but children have fun trying.

Bubbles is a perennial exhibit favorite and typically a maintenance worry. To keep the bubbles where they belong, the exhibit is partially encircled by huge car wash brushes. Like enormous totems, the brushes delineate the zone. Children also love to wipe their hands on them and squeeze their bodies in-between two brushes, some of which were planned deliberately too close to each other. Stained concrete flooring was chosen for its durability and the mats for their maintenance ease.

At Build It, the construction house, children are thrilled to use the grown-up tools. They learn to respect the use of real nails, hammers, and saws, donning safety goggles and following the rules of behavior. The interior of the construction house is purposely left under construction to further understanding and exploration of building materials. A loft-like space allows children to finish off the roofing, to be up in the ductwork, and to experience a different viewpoint. Attached to the construction house are large pipes, PVC tubes with connectors that children use to build. Creating their structural dreams, kids shape forts, tents, and mazes to run through.

Awards:  Best Chicago Museum Award, Nickelodeon Parents™ Picks, 2010.
Distinguished Building Award, American Institute of Architects, Chicago, 2003.  DuPage Children’s Museum conveys a strong message of value and vitality.
Best Museum of the Western Suburbs Award
, West Suburban Living Magazine, 2002.
Owner
:  DuPage Children’s Museum
Interior Architecture & Exhibit Design
:  Architecture Is Fun, Inc.
Location:  Naperville/Illinois
Status
:  Completed 2002
Photography
:  © Doug Snower Photography