On June 20, 2015, the Children's Museum of Sonoma County opened the Ernest L. and Ruth W. Finley Foundation Science & Imagination Gallery. Interactive exhibits are designed for hands-on play, perfect for families with children ages 10 years and younger.
Science & Imagination Gallery
Sponsored by Ernest L. and Ruth W. Finley Foundation
Jesse's Train Station
Sponsored by Herb Williams in memory of his son Jesse Williams
The miniature train station modeled after the one in Petaluma will catch the eye immediately upon entering the Science and Imagination Gallery. Whether it’s pretending to sell tickets to board a train, taking a seat in the train car, operating the control panel to start and stop trains or switching the train tracks, this exhibit will delight all ages. From inside the life-size train car within the train station, families can take a seat and look out the window. Using a GoPro camera, visitors watch a life webcam feed from the side of the actual train as it meanders in and around the Museum’s gallery and lobby spaces – traveling at one point through a miniature model of a Sonoma County town complete with miniature townspeople. The sounds of train tracks going by can be heard as well adding to the magical feeling of being on a moving train.
$30,000 (available for sponsorship - email for more information)
The large scale model railroad will catch the eye of everyone in the Science & Imagination Gallery! The Railroad consists of 250 feet of two continuous loops of track suspended from the ceiling. Train operations can be easily viewed from othe mezzanine level where kids of all ages can interact with train operations.
$25,000 (available for sponsorship)
Located in the Science & Imagination Gallery, children watch as balls are lifted by a gizmo up into a giant pachinko like machine. Watch as teh balls come back down bouncing off various pinwheels and contraptions before reaching the bottom.
Sponsored by Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
An amazing 15-foot high floor to ceiling air maze where children can direct the maze airflow and watch feathers, scarves and balls whiz by, through, up, down, and out! What goes faster? Are certain objects too heavy to “fly”? What happens when one airflow tube is blocked off? Children will play at this exhibit for hours while simultaneously learning about air pressure.
Sponsored by the Santa Rosa Soroptimists
Children play with large bolts, screws, and washers to construct shapes and structures. Collaborate with your neighbors to build a bridge running across the entire table, or individually build a structure. Find out how high the bolts can be stacked before losing their magnetism. The properties of magnetism are discovered through this playful and fun exhibit.
Magnetic Ball Wall
Sponsored by the Santa Rosa Soroptimists
At this exhibit, children can use the magnetic gadgets on the steel wall to engineer their own activity. Create a track for balls to run on, design a creative shape, or simply play with magnets! On the other side will be gears of different sizes that kids can link the movements together. There are numerous options for experimentation while learning about the principal of “cause and effect” at the same time!
Sponsored by Medtronic Foundation
The Wind Votex is a wonderful hands-on inquiry based exhibit that lets children use their imaginations to build flying machines. Are certain objects too heavy to fly? What materials fly faster? Design and make your own flying object out of recycled materials and test it out in the wind tube! Children learn about aerodynamics and physics at this exhibit, of which a smaller traveling version is already a popular Museum-on-the-Go exhibit.
Sponsored by Santa Rosa Soroptimists
Balls float, bobbing up and down, above a various sized bendable tubes in this exhibit. When you get up close, you find out that the balls are floating on a stream of air (generated by a large fan) that flows up through the hollow tubes. If you slowly try to pull the ball out of the airstream, you can feel it being pulled back in. Tilt the tubes in different directions, and the balls will be suspended in space off to the side of the blower as if held there by magic. Named after the Swiss scientist, Daniel Bernoulli, this fun and creative exhibit teaches children about the Bernoulli principle and how airplanes stay aloft.
Sponsored by Farley Family Charitable Foundation
Children can become amazing musicians just by banging the openings of different sized PVC pipes to hear different pitches come out of the organ. Children discover ideas about air and force as they create music!
Sponsored by Farley Family Charitable Foundation
With the pull of a handle, children can cause an invisible puff of air to strike a target ten feet away causing a wall of little shiny metallic discs to magically shimmer. Located in the “Science & Imagination” Gallery, the Air Cannons can be aimed at multiple targets, including other visitors. Children squeal with delight when blasted with a huge ball of air – and adults too! This exhibit helps children discover how air invisibly travels across long distances and has weight! How much time does it take for the air to reach the target? What shape does it move in? A mobile version of the air cannon exhibit has been enormously popular at the Museum-on-the-Go for the past five years. This more elaborately designed version of the Air Cannon in the permanent Museum will undoubtedly become a visitor favorite.
Light Peg Wall
Sponsored by Farley Family Charitable Foundation
Dozens of different colored plastic rods can be inserted into a grid of holes of the same size on a large wall. Upon doing this, the dully colored plastic rods suddenly become brightly luminescent like an old fashioned light bright! Children can arrange the rods in different configurations to create their own artistic and colorful pattern of colors. Sort the rods by color or use the grid to make a prescribed pattern, or simply use your imagination to create something entirely new with light and color. Children of all ages will find this exhibit exhilarating and fun. Anyone can do it and everyone will love it!
"Nuts & Bolts" Hardware Store
Sponsored by Friedman's Home Improvement
Little construction workers will have the opportunity to don construction hats and aprons and construct forts out of wood using socket wrenches and bolts. An array of real tools will be on display for anyone wishing to touch them. Children will get lost in the focused task of using their imaginations and real tools to construct things. From time to time, construction of wooden forts will be switched out in favor of KEVA. Fostering unlimited creativity and experimentation, KEVA planks build an early understanding of proportion, balance, physics and engineering.
Sponsored by Jessica, Jemma and Mike Sutton
Children will climb up a spiral staircase to the Victorian House, which anchors the kid-sized Sonoma County Main Street within the Science and Imagination Gallery. Here they can overlook the rest of the Museum and watch as model trains pass by right before them. Children will delight in looking at antiques, trinkets, and artifacts composed and arranged into intricate and interesting tableau shadow boxes reminiscent of the popular “I Spy” books. Antique phones, china, lights, oddities, jewelry, hats, toys and dolls provide a visual feast for curious minds to devour. Can they find the blue marble hidden in one of the boxes? Or how about the monarch butterfly? Shadow boxes are designed so that they can be changed out for seasonal holidays or thematic purposes.
Apple Tree House & Pulley System
$70,000 (available for sponsorship - email for more information)
Climb up into this tree and take a look around at the Museum from the catbird seat. Look out on the miniature train tracks gliding by just a few feet from the windows and don’t forget to duck when a giant puff of air comes your way from the wind cannons located just across the gallery. Pick some apples from the basket that has been lifted up into the tree house and drop them down one of several secret tunnels found in the trunk of the tree. At the base of the tree, watch as the apples emerge from various holes in the base of the trunk. Collect the apples in a basket tied to a pulley mechanism and lift them back up into the tree house again. Collecting apples has never been this much fun!
Sponsored by Francis Ford Coppola Winery
Located in the corner of Main Street Sonoma County below the charming Victorian House, children will enjoy playing with the puppet theater or listening to stories at regularly scheduled story times throughout the week. With playful and whimsical puppets of all kinds to play with, children will delight in thinking up plays and acting them out for family members and visitors. During story time, the puppet theater will be transformed into a cozy place for children to gather together and curl up next to loved ones as they listen books being read aloud or a dramatic storyteller weave magical worlds from words, music and images.
"Flavortown" Kids Café and Kitchen
Sponsored by Cooking with Kids Foundation
In the Kitchen, children will be delighted by what appears to be a kid-sized diner – complete with tables to sit at and a “real” kitchen to prepare food in. A stainless steel countertop complete with “hot line” similar to those seen on cooking shows and in restaurants is the perfect place to serve the meals after they have been prepared at the “prep table.” Parents will enjoy pretending to eat the delicious food served by their children at one of the tables or while sitting on a stool next to the countertop.
Crocodile Dental Clinic
Sponsored by Bernstein Orthodontics
The goal of Crocodile Dental Clinic exhibit is to teach children about dental hygiene, their bodies, and the tie between eating healthy and strong teeth. This exhibit will allow children to become doctors and examine the patient, Snappy the Crocodile! Pint-sized visitors can wear lab coats, explore a faux clinic and participate in interactive activities, such as investigating the differences in different animals’ teeth, jotting their own medical notes, practice brushing with oversized teeth, see X-rays and try to determine if Snappy is eating healthy and practicing good dental hygiene. Children will leave with new understanding and appreciation of their own pearly whites and their bodies as a whole.
Head-2-Toe Health & Science Lab
Sponsored by Sonoma County Medical Association Alliance and Foundation
All children are being scientists when they play, but at the Science & Health Lab they get to dress the part, too! Kids can put on lab coats and safety goggles while they "experiment" with different items in the lab. Children can view different specimens under a Wentzscope, a large viewer microscope. Examine a large set of teeth under a magnifying glass or pretend to be a dentist working on a patient. Nearby, they can look at x-rays on the wall of teeth, bones, and other anatomy. Is it the bone of a dog or a human? Is there a fracture? By inquiry, Children can discover the answers to various questions posed in the Science and Health. What is the prognosis for the patient? What does a healthy lung look like as opposed to one that is not? And what might a patient do to live a healthy life?
Sponsored by Thea & Mark Dolan and Suzy & Mike Marzalek
How do bees behave? Can you find the queen bee? Where do bees go? How do they help out in nature? How do bees create honey? What different types of bees are there? Observe and learn all about bees at the Bee Hive Demonstration Structure! Understand the role of bees and how they pollinate plants by observing bees in a real hive. Children will gain an understanding of the contribution of pollination to food supply, and respect for the fragile relationship of natural partnerships in nature. Children will learn how to take care of, encourage and protect pollinators in our environment.
Miniature Train City
Sponsored by Codding Foundation
If a child is looking to add more action to the train experience, they can settle down to moving miniature size wooden train cars themselves through a city made out of Legos. Small wooden train tracks with little train cars, just the right size for little hands to manipulate, snake in and out of tunnels and pathways beneath this unique towering Lego structure filled with interesting Lego figure vignettes. What is that little man doing standing on a bridge? How did he get there? Watch as the model trains above pass through the structure at the very top! Children and caregivers alike will wonder at seeing something so large built from Legos. How was it built? How many Legos did it take? Can you guess?
Light Writing Space Odyssey
Sponsored by Active 20/30 Club of Santa Rosa
Using phosphorescent paint, children can create masterpieces that glow in the dark. When a strobe light fires, children can capture their shadow on the wall. Images slowly fade allowing different images to be captured again and again.
Sponsored by Ann and Gordon Blumenfeld
The ADA Lift in the Gallery allows guests with mobility issues to access the mezzanine level which house interactive exhibits and activities.
$10,000 (available for sponsorship - email for more information)
Located on the mezzanine of the Science & Imagination Gallery, families with toddlers can explore this area while keeping an eye on their older children playing in the Gallery. Read a book or play with wall gears and maze play (coming soon).
Sponsored by The Heck Foundation
Located in the Science & Imagination Gallery, children climb into a secret world hidden under a spiral staircase and search for fairies and gnomes in magical miniature forest. It may look mysterious from the outside but once tucked inside, Fairy World lights up to the delight of our littlest visitors.