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Description Itinerary PlayhousePlayful Approaches Issues in Play 


In the Invention Playhouse visitors can try a variety of activities that encourage inventive skills.

Invention at Play: Magnet Ramp
Invention at Play: Magnet Ramp
Smithsonian photo by Terry McCrea

A large Magnet Wall offers three novel invention challenges using kitchen utensils that are magnetized and affixed to the 14-foot-long structure. Visitors are challenged to create faces and other constructions, spell out their names, and build trackways for rolling a ball down a ramp.

Rocky Blocks put a new spin on an age-old challenge—building a tower of blocks—by resting a tabletop on a wobbly hemisphere rather than on a steady surface. Individuals, families, and other visitor groups can collaborate on solving a complex problem involving balance, center of gravity, weight, structure, and height. Visitors try and try again until their towers reach satisfactory heights; each toppling brings experience that informs refinements of an initial idea.

Invention at Play Whirligigs
Invention at Play Whirligigs
Smithsonian photo by Richard Strauss

Whirligigs invite exploratory play in a multimedia activity where visitors invent wind-powered devices and then try out their designs in front of blowing fans. They can test and then refine initial ideas through repeated trials as they play with principles of aerodynamics, balance, and angular momentum.

Tesselation Puzzles promote spatial reasoning and problem-solving skills through pattern-making activities that offer mathematical and artistic entry points into play. Visitors may choose to copy Middle Eastern tile mosaics or Native American geometric pottery patterns or break with tradition and create innovative designs of their own.


Description Itinerary


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