Editor’s Note: During this period of social distancing, Student Group Tour magazine will continue to provide ideas for planning educational travel. Many attractions and destinations are closed at this time; please contact them directly for updated information.

Reopening to the general public on July 4 and to members only July 1-3, Exploration Place in Wichita, Kansas, allows students to learn by doing.

A large portion of the science center’s exhibit galleries are hands-on and focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The 20-year-old center is located in a Moshe Safdie-designed building on the bank of the Arkansas River.

“We are embedded with the community — so you’ll experience many exhibits that focus on our state,” said Christina Bluml, director of marketing and communications. “For example, the award-winning aviation gallery ‘Design Build Fly’ centers on engineering and manufacturing of airplanes. This industry is core to our economy and Wichita is known as the Air Capital of the World. In this gallery, students will design airplane seats, test landing gear, practice their riveting and painting skills, use GPS to determine a destination inside a luxury business jet, test pilot a craft and much more.”

Another favorite Kansas-based exhibit is the aquifer in the “Kansas Explore” gallery. Students investigate the structure of this water source and why aquifers need to be replenished. They also define their own water footprint — making them think how they can better conserve water. 

Exploration Place also offers traveling exhibits. This area changes every two to three months, and it features special exhibits that no other organization in the area hosts.

Student groups are encouraged to visit the Digital Dome Theater — the largest theater of its kind in Kansas — with a 360-degree, 60-foot screen.

Exploration Place
Credit: Exploration Place

Bluml said Exploration Place provides a break from the classroom and a break from devices — whether phone, tablet, computer or video game.

“Our science center is hands-on — you’re learning by doing — it’s fun, engaging and memorable,” Bluml said.

Exploration Place’s ultimate goal is to inspire the next generation of STEM workers. “Those going into STEM careers have been on the decline, and we, along with all science centers and museums, are working hard to increase the interest of children and adults to pursue these careers,” Bluml said.  

For more information call 316-660-0600 or go to exploration.org.