The South Dakota Children's Museum finally opened this week in Brookings. They have been renovating a closed elementary school for over a year. A local philanthropist has largely fronted the money for the project. (It always pays to have a millionaire in town.) They had hoped to open the museum earlier in the year, but with the torrential rains in Brookings this summer (wettest summer on record), it got delayed until after Labor Day.
As you will see in the slide show, the museum was well worth the wait. I decided to take my family and my youth mentoring pupil to the museum yesterday, having just opened on Sunday. My Brookings Youth Mentoring student was about to jump out of the car because he was so excited to be the first in his class to get to go.
One neat thing that I learned being on the Brookings Historic Preservation Commission is that the original school was on the Historic Landmark register. Even with the massive renovation and addition, the philanthropist wanted to keep the building on the register. You will see from the pictures that the museum still has the feel of the old school building.
As you can see, there are both and indoor and outdoor exhibits, almost all of which are "hands on." My youth mentoring student thought the indoor work works exhibit was the best. It had a lot of pneumatic tubes and such where kids could pressure a water tube and send balls up into the ceiling and watch them roll back down through an elaborate track system.
There were other learning exhibits, some of which were South Dakota themed, like farming, life on the prairie frontier, Lakota teepees, etc. There was also a sound room that had all sorts of science based learning having to do with sound waves that was interesting.
Of course, outside is a whole other set of exhibits like a man made creek and dinosaur exhibits. The T-Rex is a native to South Dakota by the way. The T-Rex is fully audio-animatronic (I think that's the right word), the only one like it in the Western hemisphere. They had to fly it in from China, where it was built. It's suppose to be outside year round. They built it to withstand -40 degree South Dakota winters.
And the T-Rex is a mama also. It has a little baby that was indoors because it was raining. I caught a peek of it here as it was moving:
If you are in Brookings, check out the Children's Museum. It's indeed something to be proud of in South Dakota.