By MARY THURWACHTER
Palms West Monthly
Posted June 6, 2018
WEST PALM BEACH — Kids of all ages are descending upon the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium to build cars, airplanes and even vehicles of the future. This isn’t the latest tech startup, but rather the recently-opened exhibit “Travel Adventure” that’s based on the world of Lego.
There, guests will find pits filled with millions of Lego bricks where they will be able to journey throughout the world via interactive exhibits that take them on an extraordinary adventure to exotic locations through all kinds of terrain.
Kids (grown-ups, too) can use their creative-thinking skills to plan and build vehicles to move through mountains, jungles, oceans and deserts while learning about the history of travel and imagining the future of transportation.
Families are invited to dress up as pilots, sailors, racers and world explorers as they take the wheel of life-sized Lego vehicles and partake in dynamic play.
Visitors like 7-year-old Chase Lynch can share their creations through a photography booth set up against a destination backdrop. They can visit San Francisco, Paris, Hawaii and other real-life destinations, all while learning about travel history.
Lynch, a second grader at Western Academy Charter School in Royal Palm Beach, had fun building a car, but also enjoyed another mode of play-making travel.
“I like the airplane simulator,” says Lynch, who lives in Wellington. “You can go different places like Paris, San Francisco and Hawaii.” He could make similar journeys via Lego cars, he found out.
Juan Carballo, 8, also a second grader at Western Academy, found another use for the Lego car he constructed. “I take it to the race track (part of the exhibit),” he says. “I really like to build things and racing cars is fun.”
Carballo, who lives in Royal Palm Beach, says he has Lego products at home and gave the exhibit two thumbs up.
The show, which continues through Sept. 23, is already a hit and management at the South Florida Science Center couldn’t be more pleased.
“The exhibit is doing exceptionally well so far,” says Kate Arrizza, the science center’s new CEO. “Opening weekend set new records for attendance. As the school year comes to a close, we will add more Lego brick building workshops, competitions and mini-figure trading events to draw in even more visitors. This summer we will be the ‘it’ place to visit.”
Arrizza says the summer exhibit gives children a good change from school, but still inspires learning.
“Travel Adventure,” says Arrizza, is a perfect fusion of family fun and sneaking in learning on the side – which is exactly what the center’s summer audience wants.
“It encourages learning through play, giving families a break from school books while still providing an enriching experience,” she says. “Lego bricks are more popular than ever, making this one of our most exciting summer exhibits yet.”
There’s large Lego dioramas that tell the story of the transcontinental railroad connecting the nation in 1869; of Henry Ford’s Model T in 1909; and of steam engines on ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean in 1910.
Elsewhere, younger children stay fascinated with the much larger Duplo bricks, which they use to build great towers – only to knock them all over when they finish.
Arrizza’s own children are big fans of “Travel Adventure,” too.
“I could not peel my kids away from this exhibit,” she says. “In every corner, there are hands-on components that allow them to build something new. Their imaginations were stimulated, STEM skills were tested and they even learned about world history.”
“Travel Adventure” was developed at the Children’s Museum in Minneapolis.
“The exhibit is in keeping with our recent blockbuster shows including ‘Our Body’ and the more recent ‘Astronaut’ exhibits,” says Melinda Grenz, director of marketing at the Science Center. “We’re trying to keep up the momentum.”
That appears to be happening.
Grenz says kids who come see the exhibit will learn history, geography, engineering, art and physics lessons, all while at play.
The South Florida Science Center is at 4801 Dreher Trail North in West Palm Beach and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Admission during “Travel Adventure” is $16.95 for adults, $12.95 for children ages 3 to 12 and $14.95 for seniors 60 and older. Science Center members and children under 3 are free.
For more information, call (561) 832-1988 or go online to sfsciencecenter.org.
Pictured above, six-year-old Orion Davis, from Indiana, takes an imaginary spin in a life-size racing car made entirely of Lego plastic bricks at the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium’s current exhibit, “Travel Adventure,” which runs through Sept. 23. Orion was visiting the science center with his twin sister and younger brother. Photo by Carolyn Rose Designs/Palms West Monthly