Worried about kids’ science, tech, engineering and math smarts getting rusty when they’re not in school? Northville moms Andrea Harrington and Kristen Arneson did, too. Their solution? Stemville – a unique new play place in their hometown that serves up STEM learning in an engaging way.
“It combines the subjects and helps make them more fun and interesting,” Harrington says. “It’s a fun extension of the curriculum and teaches kids the ‘why’ while learning hands-on. It also exposes them to other kids’ creative processes and how to solve problems as a team.”
Back to the basics
Stemville opened its doors in June – just six months after its conception. And, since the moms’ seven children range in age from 2 1/2 to 12, they wanted the space to appeal to all ages. From large building blocks and color-coded toys that teach younger kids STEM basics to iPads, biweekly experiments and programmable robots for older kids, there’s fun for all ages (moms and dads, too).
You’ll also find 25,000 Magformers and 7,500 Clicformers – Michigan-made magnetic tiles that let kids build anything from dinosaurs to roller coasters.
Admission is $20 for two hours of open play. Since there are trained instructors to walk kids through experiments and activities, parents can use that time to grab a cup of Great Lakes Coffee Roasting Company java at one of the work tables.
“We want parents to relax, too,” Arneson says. “We wanted a space that parents and kids want to return to and have calm play with one-on-one time with the instructors.” Check online for lab coat patch activities and memberships.
A few Stemville highlights
Curious what else is in store at this place for educational exploration? Here are a few examples:
Magformers & Clicformers
These Michigan-made magnetic tiles help kids create anything from dinosaurs to roller coasters. Stemville boasts a collection of 25,000 Magformers, along with 7,500 Clicformers, and encourages visitors to combine the pieces however they see fit, including using the Skytrack Magformers set to build their very own roller coasters – a favorite activity among young visitors including Arneson’s 2 1/2- and 5-year-olds.
Cubeto, Ozobot, Robo Wunderkind – these programmable robots range in simplicity from beginning coders to advanced. Younger kids can learn how to program Cubeto through a color-coded board. Older kids can sign in one of the 10 iPads available to code Ozobot and Robo Wunderkind kits, combining hardware and software to give kids a full experience from building the robots to programming them. Age doesn’t apply when it comes to playing with robots!
“The space is not all we have to offer. Twice a month, we will have special activities where kids can earn patches,” Arneson says. “We’ll have workshops and camps, and we really just want to work with the community to hear what they want for the space.”
The Stemville website keeps visitors updated on the patch activities of the month – experiments where kids can earn patches for their lab coats. For example, one theme is Geodesic Domes, where kids compete in the Tin Foil Boat and Spaghetti Tower Challenges and participate in the Magic Bag Experiment.
Stemville is located at 141 N. Center St., Suite 201 in Northville and is open 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday. Sundays are available for party reservations.
For more information, visit Stemville online.