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Innovative Educator: Meridian museum program director helps guide kids on adventures in learning

When kids enter the Children's Museum of Idaho they walk into a world of wonder.

MERIDIAN, Idaho — Editor's note: This content is sponsored by CapEd Credit Union.

The Children's Museum of Idaho is a place of adventure, discovery, creativity and imagination geared toward children two to eight years old. When kids enter the museum in Meridian with their parent, grandparent or guardian they walk into a world of wonder. 

They find a dinosaur pit where they can dig for fossils, a pirate ship they can steer, a grocery store where they can play shopper, a doctor's office where they can play a very large version of the Operation game, and a tabletop train display where they can play hands-on conductor, just to name a few of the interactive exhibits.

"We have a lot of kiddos that come in that just have never experienced those things, and their adult in them can play and learn and question and dress up, just experience new things," Museum Program Director Erin Brown said.

Brown has been the program director for the nonprofit Children's Museum of Idaho since it opened in December of 2018.

"I try to reinforce to the kids to experience the whole wide world," Brown said. "I mean we're not just here in Idaho; to open our eyes and see other things. I try to bring in other things so they can see it and experience it."

Things like goo. 

Besides the big displays, the museum offers programs, which Brown puts together. She calls her favorite "Let's Get Messy."

"We make all kinds of things. We make slime. We make oobleck. We make snow," Brown said. "I just have it out in my room and we have it open for the kids to come play, explore and touch."

Brown also brings in presenters, including the Idaho National Guard from Gowen Field in Boise.

"I called Gowen and they brought military trucks out, and so the kiddos could dress up and climb all around in their trucks," Brown said.

Brown also organizes three-day camps, like one on sloths.

"We don't have sloths in Idaho, and sloths are kind of cool," Brown said. "So we read about them and learned what they eat and how they move, and then we decided to dress like a sloth and we had a sloth parade through the museum."

So many adventures. So many experiences. So much to imagine.

"I just want them to know they can be whatever they want to be," Brown said. "It's ok to change your mind. Just explore and have some fun as a kid."

The museum is a non-profit. Admission is $9 for those two and up. You can also buy a membership. While it is geared toward kids two to eight years old, managers say older siblings are certainly welcome to come and play with their younger brothers and sisters and lead them through the activities. The museum is just off the Meridian Road Exit of I-84 near Winco.

Educators, for information on submitting an application for a classroom grant through the Idaho CapEd Foundation, visit www.capedfoundation.org.
If you would like to nominate an Innovative Educator who is going above and beyond, send us an email to innovativeeducator@ktvb.com.

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