Staff noted that although the Baby Wind Garden exhibit did indeed introduce these concepts, it was not attracting visitors. It was at this point that Wickart began to brainstorm permanent manipulatives that would be immobile but draw attention and interest to this exhibit. Prototypes using plastic bottles of different kinds and ribbons, yarn and pompoms of different weights were created and observed by floor staff. Wickart drilled several holes in bottles and jars in an attempt to adjust airflow and alter materials' movement to create maximum visual stimulation.
These young children toddled over to take a peek at the "popcorn" jars in Baby Wind Garden and were soon giggling and laughing, enjoying the sensory experience of playing in the "wind." Mom then picked up a small ball and demonstrated the Bernoulli Effect (objects floating on streams of air). Soon both boys were experimenting with balls, large and small trying to create Bernoulli Effects themselves. Mom did a great job modeling vocabulary like air, wind, and float during their time in the exhibit.
As a museum professional, have there been times where you have found yourself using play and experimentation or trial and error to make improvements on an exhibit? Share these with us!