By Todd Martin
The line between school and play blurred Thursday in the joy of a design-your-own playground, a pretend vet clinic, paint, balls and circuits.
Brookhaven Elementary School in Killeen hosted a mobile children's museum that is starting to bring interactive learning to schools and other venues throughout Central Texas.
When former high school teacher Ellen Burnett became the parent of twins she joined a group of moms and they developed the mobile Temple Children's Museum.
For now, it's a museum on wheels and Brookhaven was its first official on-site field trip. More schools have booked a visit and a physical location is, hopefully, in the future, Burnett said.
On Thursday, kindergarten and pre-kindergarten students cycled through 10 stations set up on the paved portion of the playground at the rear of the school.
The stations, all featuring hands-on activity with math, design and art elements, occupied the young, excited students and their teachers.
At one corner of the paved area, kindergarten students worked with what looked like huge, blue blocks designing structures, a sort of build-your-own playground.
Another activity required an adult volunteer to pedal a bicycle to cause buckets filled with paint to twirl, making different colors.
In another area, students worked in a grocery store and a veterinary clinic, using play money and real animal x-rays.
"We wanted to bring hands-on learning to schools and this is our first field experience," said Burnett, who loaded up a truck with the help of volunteers to deliver the mobile exhibits.
The all-volunteer group has tried out individual exhibits before, but never the whole museum at once. Friends and family members built most of the activities. A music teacher built a wall of music, allowing students to bang on trashcans to make their own sounds.
Brookhaven Campus Instructional Specialist Tara Hernandez walked around the active playground as five kindergarten classes circulated through the exhibits. She liked what she saw and liked that the field trip wasn't a trip at all.
"I like the concept of them coming here," she said. The educator pointed out various activities and noted the wealth of learning going on.
Building circuits with simple boards. Designing with large blocks. Creating with paint. Making music. Trying out basic finance. Caring for pets.
One exhibit challenged the young students to design a pathway to move a ball using what looked like a giant marble run. "They are problem-solving," Hernandez pointed out.
"They are getting all this hands-on activity without all the time on a bus traveling," she said. "All the resources are here."
The Temple Children's Museum is hosting a fundraiser April 20 at the Cultural Activities Center in Temple. They have exhibit space at the Bell County Museum in May. More school visits are scheduled.
For information about donations and volunteering, go to the following:
April 12, 2018