A Winter Guide to Boulder’s STEAM Learning Experiences

As the days grow shorter, and the weather grows colder, it can feel like the only thing to do is sit at home and watch TV. But what if there were exciting, indoor places and events you could visit this winter that are not only fun for the whole family, but educational in multiple different areas? Boulder offers several locations and events that promote hands-on STEAM learning. What is STEAM? Think STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) + Art. While STEM topics are important, including art and the humanities teaches an entirely different set of skills and modes of thinking, so it is important (and fun!) to do activities that focus on both.

The Museum of Boulder, formerly known as the Boulder History Museum, opened at its newly-renovated location on Broadway and Pine this May. It is a prime place to experience STEAM learning. Their permanent exhibit, The Boulder Experience, looks at the technology, science, and art movements that originated in Boulder, and encourages visitors to interact and imagine ways to solve current Boulder problems. The Museum also features the Google Garage, where visitors of all ages are welcome to tinker, create, and innovate: Explore new worlds through virtual reality, or create a unique souvenir with the laser cutter. The theme changes every few months, but it’s always sure to have something that will engage visitors and challenge them to think creatively.

Boulder’s very own public library offers a great opportunity to see your own unique creation come to life in their makerspace. With equipment like 3D printers, vinyl cutters, sewing machines, spinning wheels, soldering irons, and more, if you can dream it, you can build it. BLDG 61 is only open during select hours so be sure to check their calendar before you drop in, but they offer a variety of events, from workshops focused on using specialized tools to drop-in hours where anybody can stop by and take advantage of the equipment. Tool orientations and guided practices are also available for anybody unfamiliar with the tools available. Use of the equipment and space is free -you just have to bring your own materials or purchase them from BLDG 61.

If you want a makerspace with more regular hours, check out the Solid State Depot (SSD) hackerspace. The SSD facilities include wood and metal shops and an electronics lab with a wide range of tools and equipment to encourage you to create your vision, whatever it may be. SSD requires a membership with monthly dues, but you can also stop by on Tuesday evenings from 7:30-10:30 to check out the space and see if it’s something you’re interested in.

The Children’s Museum in Denver offers a multitude of opportunities for kids to experiment and create. They can learn about science topics like kinetics and energy and then head over to the art studio or teaching kitchen. They can imagine what it would be like to work as a firefighter, vet, or a dentist, and explore the Box Canyon or the outdoors Joy Park. Let their imaginations run wild as they discover the world around them and create their own.

If you’ve become a STEAM devotee after visiting all these places, why not show your love for the unique learning system at the Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest in March? Hands-on activities for all ages encourage visitors to engage with concepts they may have learned about in school but can now actually put into practice. Build a maze, learn to use new tools, create a robot—or just walk around and be amazed at everything there is to see. You can even volunteer for the event if you really want to get involved!

Author:

Chelsea Pennington

Chelsea Pennington

Chelsea is an educator at the Museum of Boulder, where she helps people of all ages explore the story of Boulder and its history. She loves stories, whether they take the form of fictional books, museum exhibits, or science discoveries! She can be found online at Penn & Paper, where she helps readers and writers discover and create life-changing stories.

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