Wonderscope Children's Museum of Kansas City: Helping kids learn through play

SHAWNEE, Kan. - Decades ago, the building that now houses Wonderscope Children's Museum of Kansas City was once an elementary school. So it's fitting that today it's still sparking imaginations and helping children learn through play.

"Kids can come and play and explore and try out lots of different things," said Lauranne Hess Executive Director at Wonderscope. "During that time families can reconnect as kids are learning throughout that entire experience. "  

An Idea Comes Together

A 1988 study by the Johnson County Commissioners task force concluded there wasn't enough

hands-on, interactive programs of interest for families. Wonderscope Children's Museum of Kansas City was founded one year later. The museum is filled with ten fun and dynamic exhibit areas along with a variety of programs aimed at children ten years of age and under. Located in the heart of Shawnee, it attracts visitors from all over the Kansas City area along with tourists.

Impact on Children in the Community

The museum's impact on children is significant. Activity-based science and math experiences help develop skills children need to succeed inside and outside of the classroom. According to the museum, when children become active, confident and engaged learners they use these skills throughout their lives. 

Wonderscope added five new exhibits in the past few years. At the museum children can splash around and meet water-loving creatures in H2Oh!, design their own raceways, create masterpiece artwork or have fun on the farm.

"What we have is a number of different play-scapes. Play is how young children or preschool-aged children and early elementary school children learn best," said Hess.  

In 2011 Wonderscope hosted a monthly concert series called Wonderpalooza with some of Kansas City's top kid-friendly musicians. The museum is still waiting to see if the funding for the series will be renewed for 2012.

Hess said, "It's a great place for birthday parties and field trips and so we've really had a great year in 2011. We're looking for another great year this year."

Looking Ahead to the Future

Wonderscope hopes to expand in the near future and is finalizing a plan for a new world-class museum in the Kansas City area. A site for the new museum has not yet been selected and their capital campaign is still in the planning stage.

"We're a great place to come and get out of the cold and come and get out of the heat or just come and spend a couple hours spending time as a family," said Hess.

Wonderscope was chosen as Best Museum in Kansas City in Nickelodeon's 2009 and 2010 Parents' Pick Awards.

Go to wonderscope.org to plan a visit or for more information.

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