At Mobius Discovery Center, the recipe for healthy learning is one part curiosity, one part fun and one part science education.
"We like to call it sneaky learning," says Amanda Currie, Mobius marketing director, about the center's newest exhibit, Eat Well, Play Well. Created by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI), "the exhibit explores the science behind nutrition, fitness and the food we eat. It's about making healthy decisions," says Currie.
The interactive (and bilingual Spanish) stations offer kids all sorts of opportunities to learn about their own bodies. Kids will enjoy stretching their legs for the flexibility test. And "everyone loves to see how good their balance is," says Currie. "There's an exhibit that times how long you can balance on a wobbly platform." During all the fun, sprinkling in some education on why balance and flexibility are important will hardly be noticed.
The exhibit also ventures into the realm of how food and exercise are related. Kids can take a turn using a hand cycle to try to exercise away the amount of calories from various snacks. They'll soon see some snacks are easier to burn off than others. And there's a chance to compare your own version of a "serving size" with what's actually considered a serving size. Hint: It's probably smaller than you think. The results may even surprise adult companions. "There's also an opportunity to build a healthy meal and get feedback on your choices," says Currie. And there's a little food market for the youngest participants to shop for groceries.
The exhibit features activities for kids of all ages, but might be primarily of interest to younger kids up to about 12 years of age. Providence is the presenting sponsor for the exhibit, Currie says. "We love that this exhibit lines up with their values and brings a resource to the community as a whole."
While the museum has had to make many difficult adaptations during the pandemic, including shuttering the former RiverPark Square location, one positive outcome has been the development of STEAM Kits ($15 for members, $18 for nonmembers), now sold online and at the center's gift shop. "They launched when we were shut down for COVID," says Currie. "They got super popular and stayed super popular." Current kits include Flower Dissection, Fantastic Contraptions and Slime Science. For Valentine's Day, there's a special kit ($20). "There's math involved, circuits, electricity, crafts — it's a good all-ages kit," says Currie. "It could take up a few afternoons or a whole day however you want to split it up."
Also, each Saturday in February from 10 am to 2 pm WSU pharmacy students will be on hand to teach kids about blood, vital signs, and the heart and lungs. And attendees will have an opportunity to sign up for the Dr. Universe Club, which provides free STEM materials to kids.
Mobius Discovery Center is located at 331 N. Post St. Masks are required for everyone except children 3 and under. Children must be accompanied by an adult; an adult must be accompanied by a child.