Sunday, February 8, 2015

Imagination Station

On a recent trip to the Lafayette area, I took our boys to Imagination Station. It was a fun way to spend half the day and a great place for the kids to play and explore. We even found nature! The hours are somewhat limited; however, it makes sense for the people they serve most. Additionally, it is a volunteer run operation. Helping with a local center, I completely understand the time and effort to make these things work! I paid $14 for the 4 boys and I to enter. If I lived closer, I would buy a membership which also offers reciprocity with other ASTC Science Centers, such as The Field Museum, Minnestra in Muncie, Science Central in Fort Wayne, etc. It's worth it to look into these memberships that really give a bang for the buck! I almost considered it just for that and wish I did as we looked at visiting some of these places later.  This is a great perk to membership! Since our visit, they have done some updating and cleaning, so I can imagine it is only better! We will have to check it out again the next time my husband travels to Lafayette.
Current Hours and Prices: 
Tuesdays: 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Fridays: 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Saturdays: 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Under 3 years: FREE
Children (3 – 16 years): $4.00
Adults (17+): $2.00

My younger boys really enjoyed the toddler room. The room has windows and a door, so I could let them play while I explored some of the other exhibits nearby with my older children. There weren't very many people there that day and I could easily see what they were doing. There were play houses, books, toys, and more! 

They also enjoyed the train table and nearby moon sand table. Lots of hands on exploration!

Just outside the toddler area is a large room filled with all kinds of displays and experiments. I especially liked the tooth sleuth exhibit, as it really helps to show the differences between herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores! This magnetic liquid on the right was fascinating. The boys and I talked about taking iron out of various items, such as corn flakes. We had just seen science fair exhibits with a few of these. This liquid is formed perfectly to make the iron pilings suspended in the liquid. Lots of scientific principles at work and it was fascinating to play with. 

We also learned about the water cycle through an interactive demonstration and looked at the rain garden from the inside window. 

The boys loved the old fashioned fire truck! There are clothes and accessories nearby for dress up play. With supervision, they could climb up top and be firefighters!

We also found a neat Elkhart connection! Here is a video portrayal of his roller coaster. LaMarcus Adna Thompson owned a grocery store in Elkhart starting in 1873. He is known as the "Father of Gravity" and follows Elkhart's spirit of tinkering and improving things. We also explored the effects of an earthquake on a house.

For an extra fee, they could explore Tornado Alley. Love seeing these connections between nature and humans. There is a "tornado tube"to try as well. These are inexpensive to make and fascinating to play with. To make one, buy a Cyclone Tube (affiliate link) and recycle two two-liter bottles.

We learned about the solar system as well. I like how they made it relatable to our own concepts, sharing how big the sun (basketball) would be compared to salt (Mercury) and the Earth (head of a pin). This helped us visualize how vast the universe truly is.

There is a whole section on birds, with books, toys, birds, and more. There were opportunities to match and interact with the material. 

There was a toddler/infant area which is nice to have an area specifically designed for the younger ones. The older boys enjoyed the Lego Creation Station. There were also K'Nex and a moveable ball run. 

There were rocks to explore and animals to doctor!

There were magnets, a cool foam arch, and a light table! 

It's nice to have a reading nook area. It is a comfortable area to sit and read. Lots of nature books! 

The Dino Dig Site was fun! The boys played with dinosaurs and dug for fossils!

We really enjoyed our visit and the play aspect of the whole place. Science was infused with the exhibits, helping us learn as we played. I look forward to seeing the changes they recently made and can tell they will continue to make hands on learning a playful experience.