Great Explorations Children's Museum
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|Location||1925 4th Street North
St. Petersburg, FL 33704
|Public transit access||PSTA:
Great Explorations Children's Museum (formerly Great Explorations - The Hands-On Museum) is a children's museum, program center, and pre-school in St Petersburg, Florida. It was founded in 1986 by The Junior League of St. Petersburg and Hands-On, Inc.
Great Explorations - The Hands-On Museum was formerly housed in a warehouse type location in Downtown St. Petersburg with similar building architecture to the Salvador Dalí Museum and P. Buckley Moss Museum. Its parking lot featured a to-scale replica of a Tyrannosaurus rex made entirely out of recycled scrap metal. Inside, the exhibits were divided into large, themed rooms with individual rooms being devoted to sight, sound, or touch exhibits. The touch room featured one of the more distinctive exhibits, the "Touch Tunnel." This 90-foot-long (27 m), completely blacked out tunnel encouraged children to navigate the fun house-like path using only their sense of touch. The original museum also had a small branch located in a hallway of the St. Petersburg Pier that included smaller versions of some of the museum's popular exhibits.
Eventually, the museum was taken over by new management and was moved to its current location adjacent to the re-opened and refurbished Sunken Gardens. At this time, the name was also changed to Great Explorations Children's Museum dropping the "Hands-On" title. Designs for the new museum included more offices and school rooms as the museum intended to expand out their staffing and education capabilities. The museum also petitioned for and was given a grant from AmeriCorps and had Americorps members on staff for several years until the last of them graduated the program in September 2010.
- Fit4AllkidsVille: Sponsored by All Children's Hospital. Fit4AllkidsVille is an interactive wing of the museum with hands-on activities to educate children about nutrition, exercise, fitness, and the importance of living a healthy lifestyle.
- I Can Construct: Sponsored by JMC Communities. I Can Construct is a life-sized tree house located at the center of the museum. Children can assume the roles of carpenter, engineer, or designer in a hands-on building and role playing environment.
- Child-Sized Market: Sponsored by Publix Super Markets. The kid-sized market is designed to put children in a real life super market environment, teaching them to make choices about what kinds of food they buy and the healthy eating decisions they can make. The super market includes a full stock of empty Publix branded grocery product cases and cans and two real working cash registers for checking out.
- Engine Company 15: This exhibit is designed to promote fire safety and education and includes a fire engine, fire pole, gear locker, and interactive learning station.
- The Veterinary Office: Sponsored by Northeast Animal Hospital. This exhibit is designed to promoted animal safety and health by teaching children the basics of veterinary medicine. Kids can play with toy medical equipment and stethoscopes and view actual x-rays of parasites and ticks on live animals.
- Great Beginnings: This children's play area, designed to look like a giant ship at sea, is built for children aged 6 and younger. It is a safe, secure play environment with many nautical themed costumes, props, and activities.
- Other smaller exhibits include: A laser harp, a gear and motion exhibit, musical pipes, kid-sized pizza kitchen, climbing wall, robot lab, sound lab, and a computer animation station.
The museum also includes the Great Stuff Store, a museum gift shop at the front of the museum selling commemorative items as well as education tools related to the science shows and exhibits in the museum, as well as building and learning toys.
Great Explorations Children's Museum offers many educational and entertaining programs designed for multiple age brackets of kids.
- Summer Camps are offered during summers, mostly from June to August. Camps are offered on a weekly (Mon-Fir) schedule, a full schedule of camps and registration are available on greatex.org under camps.
- Field Trips and Work Shops are offered periodically throughout the year and may include sessions on storytelling, performing arts, natures, sound, electricity, chemistry, motion, and standardized test preparation.
- Boy Scouts of America and Girl Scouts of the USA programs are often held or sponsored by the museum.
- Birthday parties may also be hosted at the museum.
Preschool and early childhood education
The Early Learning Institute at Great Explorations offers daily courses to children ages 2–5. The institute operates its classrooms out of the museum building thus allowing the students the ability to blend their daily schooling and museum activities together. The institute also offers voluntary pre-kindergarten (VPK) classes.