In 2017, Santa Barbara welcomed a new, exciting and wholly unique museum to its ranks: MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation.
Since the grand opening, more than 500,000 visitors, mostly wide-eyed children, have bopped through MOXI’s 17,000 square feet of interactive exhibits. Exhibits like Build It. Test It. Race It. where kids can assemble their own racecars and send them down an oversized track. The builders have variables to play with, the slope of the track and the design and weight of the race cars, which force them to hypothesize and test, both hallmarks of critical thinking and problem solving.
“It’s science plus race cars, which are super fun,” says CEO Robin Gose, clearly jazzed about the exhibit. “And it’s this racetrack on steroids, bigger than anything they have at home, which is really exciting.”
For Gose, her staff and the community volunteers who spent almost three decades dreaming up and making MOXI a reality, Build It. Test It. Race it. and all the exhibits are as much about learning as they are about fun – two inextricably intertwined concepts.
As Gose, who has spent the better part of the past two decades in both formal and informal science education, explains, MOXI is about developing 21st century core competencies for not just its visitors, but also every child in the region.
The Department of Labor predicts that two thirds of all students today will be employed in jobs that don’t yet exist by the time they enter the labor force. Many of those jobs will be in STEM – science, technology, engineering, and math – areas of learning that MOXI is all about.
“What is needed for this generation of children and generations to come are the problem solving skills and adaptive mindset to face new and bigger challenges,” Gose says. “We are going to need critical thinkers and science advocates as we continue to face pandemics, climate change, rising sea levels, and new challenges being thrown at us all the time.”
To get there is all about, as MOXI’s mission says, igniting “learning through interactive experiences in science and creativity.”
“Don’t just read about science,” says Gose. “Do it! Play and discover and open up that world of curiosity and creativity.”
Gose is not only excited about MOXI’s exhibits, but the museum’s new strategic plan. The museum itself, she says, is “a beautiful proof of concept” for its larger goal of serving the entire community. A key goal of the new strategic plan is to engage and collaborate with local schools to bring the kind of science education found at MOXI to every school and student in the region. “We want to do everything we can to provide equitable access,” Gose says. “We are truly here for the whole community.”