Kids under age 5 are natural-born scientists. They explore their world by conducting literally hundreds of little experiments: pushing to roll over, pulling to stand up, holding out their arms to balance as they cross an uneven surface and throwing things to the ground. Researchers have observed that when toddlers are learning to walk, they fall an average of 17 times an hour! Each experiment reveals a bit of how the world works, and moves them closer to gaining independence and mastering their surroundings.
Wobbly World, the brand-new free-play experience at Liberty Science Center in Jersey City for newborns through age 5, was expertly designed to be the perfect laboratory for tiny scientists. But this lab is cleverly disguised as a fanciful wonderland full of wacky shapes, amazing toys, structures to ride, and surfaces to climb. Kids can safely investigate balance, motion, and cause and effect—all while discovering new playthings and making new friends.
A Unique, Safe and Fun Place to Explore
“Kids stack blocks precariously high or push food off tables just to see what happens,” says Liberty Science Center President and CEO Paul Hoffman. “Over years of testing limits and observing results, children develop and revise their own theories of how gravity, motion and mass affect everything. This completely custom exhibition offers our youngest guests and their grownups a fun, safe, totally unique environment where they can continue this exploration.”
It’s clear at a glance that this is no ordinary toddler playroom. At the center of the gallery is the giant Body Mobile: part carousel, part Alexander Calder-style mobile. As young guests hop on colorful seats and surfaces that dangle from the 14-foot-tall center column, they balance, spin, and bring the whole structure to life. On one side of the gallery, kids explore Balancescape, an off-kilter landscape of hills and ledges, testing their balance and agility as they find their footing. Along the opposite wall, young learners can build and explore with a whimsical collection of oversized Balance Blocks. The blocks also form a giant puzzle: Each unique block shape fits into a matching slot in the wall.
“My girls had a great time and can’t wait to go back!” says Allyson Greenstein, a Caldwell mom, after her family’s first visit to Wobbly World.
Renowned toy designer Cas Holman and her company Heroes Will Rise worked with LSC to create the new experience, starting with the central theme of balance. “For young children, that’s really their whole existence, right?” says Holman. “Trying to figure out how things work, what’s going on in the world, and of course, physically balancing themselves and their bodies and developing the fine motor skills to balance other things.”
Hands-on Exploration For Little Learners
In addition to the grand-scale kinetic experiences, Wobbly World engages young learners in smaller, hands-on explorations of balance. At the Mobile Building Station, tiny hands can create a tabletop mobile by hanging mini versions of shapes seen around the gallery on a permanent mobile base at the center of a table. At the Scales and Stacking Station, there are tactile wooden shapes to grab, sort, stack and balance on scales.
The range of challenges is designed to keep young learners engaged as they return to Wobbly World again and again. “We really want kids to have an ongoing relationship with this space,” says Holman. “When they’re 18 months old, they might not be able to fully crawl up to certain places. But when they’re two years old, they’ll be able to make it a little farther. And then, when they’re four years old, they’ll be the ones at the top!”
Families and caregivers have plenty of space to relax and observe. There are benches, a built-in nursing area for moms and shock-absorbing padding throughout the gallery.
“If you have children between the ages of 0-5 this exhibit is for you!” says Yessenia Mercedes, a mom from Kearny who got a chance to play in the new space with her kids. “Our family had such a fun day. We cannot wait to visit again!”
Wobbly World is now open, and is included with general admission to Liberty Science Center. Located in Jersey City, Liberty Science Center is dedicated to inspiring the next generation of scientists and engineers and bringing the power, promise, and pure fun of science of technology to learners of all ages. LSC houses the largest planetarium in the Western Hemisphere, 12 museum exhibition halls, a live animal collection with 110 species, giant aquariums, a 3D theater, and more! Learn more at LSC.org.