How do you learn?
By listening? By watching? By doing? By failing?
At the brand new Mobius Science Center in downtown Spokane, experiential learning is all the craze. Learning by doing and experimenting helps kids solve problems. It helps people innovate and figure out the right and wrong ways to accomplish something.
Mobius is full of experiential learning exhibits – a few of which we visited this week.
Exhibits at the center range from engineering and flight to the human body to biology to physics, with much more available.
At the Engineering and Flight exhibit, for instance, you’re forced to experiment. At the Water Rockets station, you pump air pressure and water into a bottle and allow the pressure to launch it in the air. If you want it to go higher, you must experiment with different amounts of water and pressure. Doing this helps kids learn the science of pressure if they ever, say, want to launch rockets someday.
The Aerodynamics Challenge allows kids to make a paper airplane and send it through a launch mechanism and see how far it goes (my paper airplane flew 19 feet, thank you very much). Kids can then experiment with different aerodynamic airplane designs. Sure hope they learn, because Spokane could be a robust aerospace manufacturing hub in the years to come, offering jobs these kids might be interested in.
For the aspiring doctors out there, Mobius even has a virtual autopsy center. Kids can use a table touch screen (right) and diagnose the cause of death for virtual patients. Users can view the skeleton to find broken bones, muscles to find contusions and more.
Jacob Miller, a 14-year-old volunteer at Mobius, said his favorite exhibit station is the “mind ball game,” where you strap to your forehead a headband hooked up to a computer. You put a marble-sized ball in a clear tunnel on the flat surface, and use your mind to move the ball. You really have to see it to know how amazing it is!
“You have to actually use your brain to make it work,” Miller said. Using your brain to make things work – how about that?
So why is Mobius important to our region? It’s important because it introduces kids to a different kind of learning. Experiential learning helps us find new ideas, new ways of achieving goals and new innovators.
A science center in Spokane has been a vision for a long time. In the 1990s, community leaders promoted the idea of having a science center in Spokane in partnership with the Pacific Science Center in Seattle. We had federal funds available, but the initiative didn’t pass a primary vote in 1995.
Flash forward to today, and something years in the making is now a reality. Thanks to broad community support, our kids have a science center where their imagination can run limitless.
Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are important areas of learning if our city, our state and our county will move forward.
*Mobius Science Center will celebrate its Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting on Sept. 8 at 9:00 a.m.