LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — The North Museum of Nature and Science reopened Wednesday following the end of Pennsylvania’s most recent round of COVID-19 shutdowns. To keep young learners engaged in hands-on STEM activities, the museum has found several ways to adapt to pandemic limitations.
Of course, the now-normal precautions — hand sanitizer, temperature checks, social distancing — are all in place for those visiting the facility in person, explains David Sadiwnyk, director of visitor and membership services at the North Museum.
However, the museum is also coming up with additional creative ways to continue hands-on activities while keeping guests’ hands germ-free. “We’ve created some visitor packs for children and guests of all ages that come, so they’re able to get their own supply kit for their visit to the museum,” says Sadiwnyk.
The packs contain craft supplies like crayons, scissors, and glue in addition to Legos for the museum’s Lego Lab and even activities to complete at home. Sadiwnyk says hands-on learning “is a huge part of our museum and part of science learning…so we continue to encourage it, and we’re so glad to do it in a safe way.”
To limit capacity at the North Museum, guests are asked to make reservations in advance. The museum also has altered hours. It’s open from 10-noon and 1-3, with the hour between used for cleaning and sanitizing the facility, Sadiwnyk explains.
For guests who aren’t quite ready to return to the museum in person, there’s also North Museum @ Home, a program in which learners can access activity boxes, educational packets, and a slew of online materials. “Pretty much any kind of virtual offering we could find, we’ve tapped into,” says Sadiwnyk.
Sadiwnyk says the museum has reached over a million people virtually since they started offering the @ Home program in March.
The North Museum also offers STEM boxes with various themes, tailored to different age ranges. They contain items from the museum gift shop as well as information for STEM activities that can be completed using common household items.
Although the days of busy museum fieldtrips are on hold, the North Museum is still finding ways to engage educationally with the community. “We just wanted to continue being that education source,” says Sadiwnyk, “to be able to continue getting that education, getting those hands-on activities, getting access to STEM education.”
More information is available on the North Museum’s website. STEM kits and other items from the museum gift shop can be purchased on the website, as well.