As a child, Betsy Peters used to delight at making trips from her hometown of Wilson, N.C., to the Marbles children’s museum in Raleigh.
These days, she’s helping to design it.
On Jan. 2, 2011, the museum unveiled its Exploration Station, a hands-on learning table that Peters designed and helped to fashion in the museum’s exhibit workshop. (View a flickr gallery of Peters’ exhibit.)
A senior at the College of Design at NC State University, Peters has long been interested in how children learn outside the classroom. A summer 2010 internship at Marbles allowed the graphic design major to apply her design skills in a way that helps to promote hands-on enrichment.
“Children are constantly picking up things from each other and their parents,” Peters said. “To see the kids play with the exhibit was a really rewarding experience.”
The Exploration Station is located in Marbles’ “Around Town” space that engages nicely the generally short attention spans of children ages 3 to 6.
The museum rotates four different themes at Peters’ station (dinosaurs, safari, woodlands, and farm) and changes each theme’s cast of play animals accordingly. Children can sidle up to the table or actually become a part of it by crawling underneath it and popping up, gopher style.
Peters’ project stretched beyond her internship. For months after her internship ended she worked closely with Chris Alexander (BEDI 1993) who is the museum’s exhibit director. Another College of Design graduate, Michelle Lacey (BAD 2009) serves as part of the museum’s Exhibits and Programs team.
Alexander cut out the wood pieces according to Peters’ specification, and Peters applied the paint.
Peters was able to draw on a great deal of knowledge of the museum’s staff, some of whom worked at the museum in its earlier incarnation, Exploris, which opened its doors in 1999. In 2007, Playspace moved into the Exploris building and the Marbles name was adopted. The museum includes an IMAX theater in addition to several children’s exhibits geared toward healthy living, creativity, and global awareness.
No doubt her Exploration Station will get lots of loving wear and tear. Fortunately, Peters is confident the staff will make sure it stays maintained. Of course, she wouldn’t mind being able to watch over the exhibit herself after she graduates in May.
Said Peters: “I definitely would like to work in a museum setting full-time, and Marbles would be a great place to do that.”
Written by: Eric Larson, (919) 515-8311.
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