Back in 2017, the museum was invited to be a part of the Mid-Maine Chamber of
Commerce’s Taste of Waterville. We created a collection of large, standing panels, and painted them blue. For our activity, we invited families to draw and design their own fish to add to our “ocean.” While we can’t remember how we attached them to the panel (tape? glue? mounting puddy?) the concept of creating large activity panels, stuck. And so the Mobile Museum was born!
Our original design included magnetic, chalk, and acrylic panels, and they have been well used since they were built in early 2018. We then added stop-and-go motion, a light table, along with other pieces, like ramps and balls, a scarf blower, and a sensory table. We've popped up in restaurants, farmer's markets, schools, libraries, community events, and more. The only challenge is that these panels are huge! They don’t fit into the back of a standard hatchback, which means lots of coordinating to get the panels to events. This is why our second, and now third, iterations, have a more streamlined design that fits in a car, can be lifted by one person, and are all interchangeable to keep things fresh, depending on what type of event we are attending.
This winter, funded through a partnership with Educare, the museum has created 6 brand new Mobile Museum panels, with more to come. Families can create shapes on the geo-wall, make a propeller spin by completing a circuit, paint a picture on the acrylic panel, build a lego structure, spin a collection of gears, or run their hands across the color-changing sequin panel! Each panel is designed to invite open-ended play with no right or wrong way to use it. They are also easy to adapt. For instance, when outside on a grassy lawn, the acrylic wall is great for painting, but inside, it’s best used for creating with our suction-cup builders. Meanwhile, the magnetic wall can hold gears, a ball ramp, magnetic letters, or magnetic animal sorting, to name a few!
The panels were built by a local maker who took great care in creating beautiful, durable pieces that will last. He carefully hand-constructed each piece out of poplar, and sanded and oiled each piece to make sure they last. We are grateful for his design!
Want to check them out?! If you are in Educare, we can’t wait to meet you during the week of the Young Child. Starting in May, we will be at the Augusta Farmers Market every Tuesday, and you can join us for several upcoming events, including STEM-A-Palooza on April 2nd, our Campaign Kickoff also in April, and Touch a Truck in June. Follow our Facebook Page for more information on all of our upcoming events!
What kind of panel should we add next?