Tag Archives: The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation

Showing its MOXI: Innovative Spirit Helps Organization Continue to Support Children’s Quest for Knowledge

Every organization had to pivot to produce programs during the pandemic. But for the MOXI museum, innovation comes with the territory. Indeed, that’s what the “I” in the nonprofit’s name (Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation) stands for. 

“What the pandemic forced us to do is to take what we do best — which is hands-on, interactive science learning — and translate it into a virtual environment,” explained Robin Gose, MOXI’s executive director. “We were very passionate about making sure we did it, because we were watching as kids were Zooming in from home, and realizing that they, especially elementary school kids, need that human interaction and hands-on learning. We had to find a way to continue to offer things that worked in the remote learning environment so that their minds continue to stay engaged with design thinking and creative problem solving.”

Sounds simple enough, and not at all unlike what everybody else was trying to do to cope with the COVID crisis. But how exactly does one go about duplicating the kind of hands-on experience MOXI is famous for when you’re not allowed to get within six feet of one another? 

Hello, innovation. 

And welcome Virtual Design Labs, a creative concept that calls for a MOXI staffer to Zoom in live with the teacher and the students to creatively present some type of a challenge related to a museum exhibit. 

“It’s interactive,” Gose explained. “The kids get to see the exhibit; they get to talk with the staffer, and we make it really fun.”

For Quiet Quest, the project is called The Sneakiest Sneaker where the kids — part of a class, homeschool group, or learning pod — come up with a design to invent something where they can walk as quietly as possible. There’s even a sound meter to measure success. 

“The students can take any shoe, a sneaker, a flip flop or just something they make out of cardboard and use all different kinds of materials to design it to be quiet,” Gose said. “It’s a very open-ended exploration. Will it be quiet if you wrap toilet paper around it? Or if you glue on cotton balls? Or wrap it in a kitchen towel?

“The kids get really excited for using materials that they have at home, and it becomes a really fun challenge. It’s all about getting the kids to be excited about trying to solve a problem and being creative with what they’re building without having to use any special tools or materials.”

The Case of the Missing Tracks, which connects to the popular Roll It exhibit — that’s the one with tracks supported by moveable pegs attached to a wall that kept this correspondent occupied for nearly an hour during a pre-pandemic visit — asks the students to come up with a solution to keep the ball rolling even though the tracks and pegs are gone. With guidance from their teacher and staffers, the kids build and test prototype “ball coasters” or chutes and ramps. 

“The students can use an old paper towel tube, a magazine, or whatever they find that might work,” said Gose. “Their homes become a toolbox, with the challenge to design ramps that will take the place of the ‘stolen’ tracks. It’s fun and it’s playful and it gets the kids engaged that also offers a direct connection to what the teachers are teaching.” 

While Virtual Design Labs have a nominal fee, the museum has also been offering free MOXI at Home Activity Guides that are also all connected to motion and related to exhibits at MOXI, including the McMillan + Kenny Families Fantastic Forces Courtyard and the Muzzy Family Speed Track. Among the downloadable PDFs utilizing items that you can easily find at your house is one showing how to build a guitar out of cardboard and string, which proved popular among both teachers and parents. A homemade water wheel evokes the whitewater exhibit on MOXI’s rooftop.

“You’re building some type of a contraption with very easily accessible materials and there’s no one right way to create the thing,” said Gose. “It’s about getting kids off of screens and using their hands and heads to keep creativity alive.” 

It’s this latter part that, while already part of MOXI’s mission to ignite learning through interactive experiences in science and creativity, has taken on added importance during the pandemic, as the museum’s aim is to steer kids toward the skills of STEM — science, technology, engineering, and math — that make up the bulk of what will be necessary for the jobs of the future, which seems a lot closer after COVID. 

“We wanted the students to hopefully maintain their academic rigor, but also connect with the real educational philosophy of MOXI, which is focusing on the 21st century skills — critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration,” Gose explained. “We do that through the theme of STEM, but it’s really those four core competencies that can transfer to any profession and any problem. When they’re faced with a challenge such as housing insecurity in a community, or another pandemic, a rise in the sea level or other results of climate change, having those core competencies and those essential skills, they’re equipped to innovate.”

The Power of MOXI

MOXI’s Virtual Design Lab programs challenge students to solve a design problem connected to one of the museum’s exhibits like Quiet Quest

Inspired? 

Then perhaps you’d like to take advantage of a great opportunity to learn mid-month via “The Power of MOXI,” the museum’s annual spring luncheon that will take place virtually. The one-hour event starting at noon on May 18, will provide information for both current supporters and potential new friends to learn more about MOXI’s impactful learning experiences. It will also delve into how the museum creates equitable access to its programs, ensuring that all children are empowered to pursue their interests in STEM and perhaps become the future problem solvers and innovators the world needs more than ever. 

And, because it’s MOXI — with an I for innovation — the event won’t just be one talking head the whole time, instead featuring live presentations with staffers, some prerecorded segments and a few videos, all designed to keep the community interested in the museum that just reopened last week. 

“People will see how important this type of learning is for the teachers and the students, because we all want a future where we are happy and helping, and our planet is happy and healthy,” Gose said.

The event will also feature the first annual Moxie Award to an individual or organization in the community in gratitude for extraordinary support of the museum’s mission, said Martha Swanson, MOXI’s director of marketing and communications. 

“I can’t tell you who the winner is before that day, but it’s someone who without whom MOXI probably wouldn’t exist. So, we’re excited to honor and recognize a special person, and we’re excited that we’re going to start a new tradition that we hope to carry on in future years.”

There is no cost to attend the luncheon, though the first 100 guests to register will receive a delicious free meal delivered to your home or workplace.

Everyone will have the opportunity to support MOXI’s Education Fund, raising critical support for the museum’s STEM education and accessibility programs. Those wanting to have a bigger impact can contact amanda.allen@moxi.org or call (805) 770-5003 to inquire about sponsorship or to make a pre- or post-luncheon gift to the Education Fund. Community volunteers are also needed to deliver the free meals; visit www.moxi.org/springluncheon for details.  

For other ways of supporting MOXI, including the Innovator Circles of Giving, its annual giving program, corporate partners and special projects, visit www.moxi.org.

MOXI Reopens Thursday, April 29

MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation is excited to welcome back guests to Santa Barbara’s home for interactive exploration of science and creativity. MOXI will reopen on Thursday, April 29 following more than a year-long closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. Following CDC, state and local guidance, MOXI has implemented a variety of new procedures to once again provide a safe, engaging and fun experience where curious minds of all ages can explore, discover and play.

What to know about planning a visit to MOXI:

– New temporary hours are Thursday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

– All visitors, including members, are encouraged to make a reservation or advance ticket purchase (free for Members).

– All guests ages 2 and up must wear a face covering at all times (no gaiters or face shields without masks allowed).

– Guests must be in groups of no more than nine, with only people from their household, in accordance with current state and CDC guidance.

– Guests and staff will maintain physical distance of at least six feet between one another.

– Guests will be asked to follow new guidance at select exhibits, and one-way pathways in select areas.

– Guests will be offered a stylus pen at entry to be used on push buttons and touchscreens to cut down on touch points throughout the museum, while still allowing for engagement.

Health and safety procedures implemented by MOXI include:

– Staff health screening before work shifts, with only necessary staff onsite.

– Limitation of number of visitors – starting at 25% normal capacity.

– Enhancement of MOXI’s already robust cleaning procedures including regular sanitizing of high-touch points such as door handles and railings, and one-time usage of loose parts at select exhibits.

– Sneeze-guard Plexiglas barriers at front desk check-in points and eight hand sanitizing stations have been installed.

– Indoor air quality maintained via the building’s high-performance HVAC system with MERV-13 filters and fans are being run continuously when the building is occupied. Keeping windows and doors open as weather and outdoor air quality allows to further increase air flow. 

– Closure of select exhibits and experiences which do not allow for physical distancing or have a high number of hands-on elements.

While some procedures have changed and some exhibits are temporarily closed, guests will be excited to discover that many of the museum’s most popular exhibits, including Build It. Test It. Race It., Light Patterns and Whitewater all remain open. 

Guests will also be able to view “CurioCity,” a miniature cardboard city, in the Interactive Media Theater. The display is the result of a community-wide collaboration that had members of the public creating and dropping off their own uniquely engineered and decorated cardboard structures at the museum last summer. 

For those who are unable to or not yet comfortable with visiting MOXI, opportunities for “at-home” learning and experiences will continue to be available via the museum’s website and Facebook and Instagram pages. The latest offerings include printable activity guides for all ages, covering a variety of topics from motion to sound and light, engineering and making. The museum is also hosting a virtual spring luncheon fundraiser on May 18 and has plans to host a modified version of its MOXI@Night gala onsite at the museum on October 1 and 2.

Tickets, Member reservations and information about all museum programs and events are available on MOXI’s website, moxi.org.

About MOXI

MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation® is dedicated to igniting learning through interactive experiences in science and creativity. Located in the heart of Santa Barbara’s redeveloped tourist area at 125 State Street, the museum is LEED-certified Gold and serves guests of all ages through its hands-on exhibits and education programs. MOXI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization generously supported by its daily guests, members, facility rentals and donations from individuals, foundations and corporate partners. For more information, visit moxi.org.

Celebrate Pi Day with Special Edition MOXI at Home Party Kit

It may have started as a way for staff at a San Francisco museum to bond, but Pi Day has evolved and grown into a national holiday celebrated by math aficionados, educators, those with a sweet tooth and more all around the world. Pi Day is celebrated on March 14 since 3, 1, and 4 are the first three digits of the mathematical constant, pi. MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation is marking the day this year with an exclusive at-home event kit now on sale in its online Museum Store. Kits are available for curbside pickup at the museum Monday through Friday, 10 am to 5 pm.

The Pi Day at Home party in a box was created by MOXI staff to foster creativity and bring joy to the whole family. The kit includes everything needed to pay homage to pi, even an on-theme meal. Each kit includes: materials to make a spin art machine, a customizable Pi Day banner, rings to play ring toss, chalk for outdoor circle drawing, a laser cut spirograph plus materials to make one, and a gift certificate to Rusty’s Pizza Parlor redeemable for one large two-topping pizza pi(e) and salad. Just add enthusiasm and creativity for a well-rounded celebration. 

“The Pi Day at Home kit is a fitting way to bring the spirit of MOXI to the homes of area families for a celebration that encourages active exploration and critical thinking about the world around us,” said Robin Gose, president and CEO of MOXI. “While we of course wish we were celebrating onsite at the museum, we’ll have to wait until next March 14 for that opportunity. In the meantime, we hope this brings our fans as much joy as we experienced in creating the kits.”

The first organized celebration of Pi Day was held in 1988 at one of MOXI’s peers to the north, the Exploratorium in San Francisco. They marked it with a circular parade and eating of fruit pies, and it has since grown into a big annual tradition for staff and the public as well as a worldwide cultural phenomenon. MOXI has previously marked the day with making activities at the museum, but needed to pivot this year’s celebration given the museum’s ongoing closure due to COVID-19.

While the doors to its building at 125 State Street in Santa Barbara remain closed due to state and county health orders, MOXI staff have been working hard to ensure opportunities for creative discovery and exploration continue with its MOXI at Home programs, online museum store, and just announced virtual field trip programs. Virtual Design Lab programs are now open for registration by classrooms, homeschool groups and learning pods for students in kindergarten through 6th grade. These virtual field trips are facilitated live from the museum by MOXI education team staff and introduce the engineering design process by posing a challenge related to one of MOXI’s exhibits for students to solve.

As the museum nears almost one full year of being closed, it faces significant financial challenges due to loss of revenue from admissions, membership, programs and facility rentals during the ongoing closure. Proceeds from all MOXI at Home programs and online store sales, including the Pi Day kit, support the museum’s mission to ignite learning through interactive experiences in science and creativity and help to ensure MOXI will be a viable resource for the greater Santa Barbara region for years to come. Rusty’s Pizza Parlor is a proud sponsor of Pi Day at Home. 

Pi Day at Home kits are $70 with a 10% discount available to MOXI Members. All orders must be placed online at www.moxi.org/store. Any questions can be directed to info@moxi.org. Once purchased, kits are available for contactless, curbside pickup at MOXI, Monday through Friday from 10 am to 5 pm. A limited quantity of kits are available and must be purchased by noon on Friday, March 12 to pick up in time for a proper March 14 celebration. 

About MOXI

MOXI, The Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation® is dedicated to igniting learning through interactive experiences in science and creativity. Located in the heart of Santa Barbara’s redeveloped tourist area at 125 State Street, the museum is LEED-certified Gold and serves guests of all ages through its engaging exhibits and education programs. MOXI is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization generously supported by its daily guests, members, facility rentals and donations from individuals, foundations and corporate partners. For more information, visit moxi.org.

Ignite Learning

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.”