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Bank grant opens museum to children

April 6, 2016
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Robot Zoo
Approximately 30,000 school-age children visit the Grand Rapids Public Museum each year. Courtesy GRPM

A grant from a bank foundation will help introduce the area’s youngest students to the world of robots.

The Grand Rapids Public Museum has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the PNC Foundation to bring children from 32 preschool classrooms to the museum throughout April and early May. Students from Grand Rapids Public Schools will visit the museum for “The Robot Zoo,” a traveling exhibit that openedlast month.

“We are excited about this partnership with the museum and GRPS and the opportunity to provide a unique science and math learning experience to more than 500 preschoolers and their teachers,” said PNC Regional President Sean Welsh, speaking on behalf of the PNC Foundation. “PNC recognizes the critical role that access to high-quality early childhood education plays in the lives of area children, their families and ultimately, our economy.”

The exhibit, which will be on display through Sept. 18, features eight robotic creatures — a giraffe, grasshopper, squid, fly, rhinoceros, bat, platypus and chameleon — that can move and be manipulated by all visitors, but particularly with kids in mind.

It also has more than a dozen hands-on exhibits, including interactive games, said Kate Moore, vice president of marketing and public relations for the museum.

“All of the animals in the exhibit mimic how real animals work, mechanically and biologically, showing science and technology in robots,” she said.

“The exhibit is great. I’d say my favorite thing is the chameleon. Each eye has a camera in it, because chameleons’ eyes actually move separate from each other. You can move it back and forth, change its color. I think it’s really great.”

Moore said approximately 30,000 school-age children visit the museum each year, but the PNC grant will boost attendance over the next several weeks.

The children will get to explore the exhibit and participate in an exhibit-designed curriculum. The kids will also take home bilingual Sesame Street“Math Is Everywhere”kits and piggy banks, which PNC provided.

“A big thank you to PNC for making this possible,” said Dale Robertson, president and CEO at GRPM. “We love seeing students benefit from the educational opportunities we provide.”

The exhibit is open from 9 a.m.-8 p.m. through Friday for extended spring break hours, but will return to normal hours next week. Museum tickets range from $6 to $11.

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