Where: Fernbank Museum of Natural History
When: This new permanent exhibit opened in March 2011
Cost: Included in Admission $17. 50 adults, $16.50 students and seniors (62+) and $15.50 children 3 – 12
Photos: Visit Field Trips with Sue on Facebook for photos of the NatureQuest Exhibit
Fernbank Museum of Natural History has a new $8 million permanent exhibit called NatureQuest that is geared toward their younger guests and could be reason alone to become a member (so you can go again and again). The two hours we spent exploring the exhibit wasn’t enough for my kindergartner and I had to drag him away.
NatureQuest is a designed for children 2 through 10 as an interactive, educational, indoor play space with more than 100 interactive encounters including live animals. The exhibit features six diverse ecosystems : the ocean/estuary, swamp, pine flatwoods, forest, waterfall/river, and caves designed around a kids clubhouse. There is literally something to discover in every nook and cranny. I love the water features, the mist waterfall, the river that ripples when you walk across it and the undersea shell puzzle. My boys liked climbing up inside the tree and developing new paths for the acorns to fall. This activity is similar to marble mazes, but uses PCP pipe with magnets and the kids create new paths on a metal wall.
Once you get used to the “big attractions,” you start seeing the more subtle discovery opportunities like the bats in the cave, the soil sample pulled from the ground or the numerous hiding places for pretend animals. Kids will love running, crawling, splashing (virtually) and discovering every nook and cranny using all their senses.
Parents looking for a more structured approach can pick up one of the exploration cards that explain each ecosystem and offer a checklist of what you’ll find. Adults can engage children with the fun facts or question and answers from the cards. There are also “ologist cards” that provide information on the exhibition through the eyes of different scientists, such as an archaeologist, geologist, zoologist, marine biologist, and others.