Thomas and Friends roll into the Youth Museum
– Lola Rizer
The world’s most beloved #1 blue engine has rolled into Beckley! Thomas & Friends®: Explore the Rails, an interactive exhibit, is now open at the Youth Museum of Southern WV. #ExploreWithThomas
Leslie Baker the director of Parks and Recreation says that the exhibit will be open until September social distancing and masks are required. Only 20 people can be in the exhibit at a time but it is a wonderful educational opportunity for children and Families
In a conversation with….Leslie Bakker, we learn more about the exhibit and what they have planned looking forward to spring and summer.
Featuring the favorite engines and destinations from Thomas & Friends, the STEM (Science Technology, Engineering, and Math) -focused exhibit seeks to engage children, ages 2 through 7 years, and families in foundational skills that foster STEM literacy through playful learning experiences. The exhibit incorporates foundational STEM practices that encourage thinking mathematically, making comparisons, experimenting to solve problems using a variety of methods and tools, thinking creatively, and reflecting on actions and results.
Visitors to the 1500 square foot exhibit will be delighted as they find themselves surrounded by the Island of Sodor’s iconic locations: Knapford Station, Sodor Steamworks, and much more. In the exhibit, children help Thomas and his friends solve a variety of challenges, from simple sorting and shape identification activity to more complex engineering obstacles, such as completing a train track using track pieces with different levels of elevation. As children confront new challenges and test their abilities, the smiling faces of Thomas, Percy, Victor, and others are there to offer encouragement and remind children how “really useful” they all are.
Inside the Exhibit visitors can:
- Climb into Thomas’s cab and explore the engine’s inner workings. Flip levers and investigate other moveable parts that trigger train noises such as braking, whistles, and steam.
- Fix Percy’s wobbly wheel by removing and replacing parts and experimenting to find a combination of wheels, rods, and bolts that work.
- Explore the favorite Island of Sodor destinations including Tidmouth Sheds, Brendam Docks, and the Sodor Search & Rescue Station on an over-sized Thomas Wooden Railway train table.
- Work with old and new friends loading luggage, livestock, and other freight into the coaches of two train cars.
- Collaborate with others to get Percy moving by loading coal into his coal box and filling his tank with water from a water tower.
- Suit up as the conductor to exchange money and sell tickets to other visitors taking a ride on the train.
- Wander through a Thomas & Friends retrospective featuring model engines from the original live-action series produced in London, copies of the original drawings and manuscripts from the Rev. W. Awdry, the creator of Thomas & Friends, and a collection of memorabilia documenting the history and evolution of Thomas & Friends through books, television, and toys.
The Thomas & Friends exhibit was designed and developed by the Minnesota Children’s Museum in partnership with HIT Entertainment, a subsidiary of Mattel, Inc. Fisher-Price, the #1 Infant/Preschool Toys manufacturer 1, is the presenting sponsor for the exhibit. 3M is the national tour sponsor. The exhibit was inspired by the popular children’s series on PBS KIDS in the US, and Treehouse and Télé-Québec in Canada.
The Youth Museum welcomes visitors with disabilities. Please let us know in advance if special accommodations are required and we will gladly make them.
The Youth Museum complex is located in New River Park adjacent to the Beckley Exhibition Coal Mine.
Winter Museum hours are Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm. Many of the exhibits & classes are funded in part by the WV Commission on the Arts. For more information, call 304-252-3730.