Children birth through three are natural scientists. Exploring, experimenting, building, and moving are the foundations of scientific exploration. WonderLab is committed to meeting the needs of these young scientists through design, development and construction of a new gallery area in the museum: Science Sprouts Place. Funding from Old National Bank Foundation in the amount of $22,500 paid over three years will support the design, development, and construction of the new exhibit area.

“Ninety percent of brain development happens within the first three years of life,” said Emmy Brockman, WonderLab Education Director. “At WonderLab we know that children aren’t just learning but they are learning in really complex ways. When the environment is designed in a challenging and appropriate way it will enhance and encourage learning. Additionally, we recognize that caregivers are a child’s first and most important teachers. Science Sprouts Place will be designed with that in mind.”

In early 201,7 WonderLab launched Science Sprouts, a weekly science enrichment program designed especially for toddlers and their caregivers. The program is free with museum admission and includes hands-on exploration, live music, body movement, and a commitment to accurate science.

Created by Brockman and supported by a robust body of research, Science Sprouts addresses the unique needs of toddlers and provides a gathering place for families. The program was an immediate success, selling out weekly. To meet visitor needs, two more sessions of the program have been added.

Over the past ten years infant attendance at WonderLab has steadily increased. This fact, combined with the overwhelming support of the Science Sprouts program, identifies that there is a community need that hasn’t been fully addressed. The Science Sprouts Place Exhibit Area will meet that need, providing an educational gathering space on a permanent, 6-day-a-week basis, for infants and toddlers.

“We have passionate advocates for the Sprouts program,” said Katie Burris, WonderLab Development Director. “It is apparent that a dedicated gallery area, Science Sprouts Place, is a critical need for our youngest visitors.”

Scheduled to open in 2019, Science Sprouts Place will include originally designed, hands-on exhibits specifically for infants and toddlers. Along with this expansion WonderLab will continue to develop exhibits and programs for visitors over age three. “It is our mission to inspire and delight our visitors, of all ages, with relevant, unique fun, hands-on science,” said Karen Jepson-Innes, WonderLab Executive Director. “After all, we are Bloomington and Southern Indiana’s premier, hands-on science museum.”

The Old National Bank Foundation makes contributions to nonprofit organizations to fund large scope and large impact programs and/or projects. The Foundation is part of Old National’s overall charitable giving initiative, which enables us to support programs that improve quality of life in areas of Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan and Wisconsin where our clients, associates and shareholders live and work.