Send Your Kids to Summer School: The Science of Listening at Thanksgiving Point

Jul 30, 2012

The bustle of the city, the roar of construction on the highway, and even your neighborhood can all become places of loud and annoying noises. For many, these loud sounds can be overwhelming.  Sometimes, we just have to get away from it all.  But many people are choosing to embrace the  sound, or rather, the science of sound.

Thanksgiving Point recently opened up its newest exhibit, “The Science of Listening," which lets guests of all ages explore the physiological processes of hearing, speech and communication through fun and unique hands-on experiences.

Thanksgiving Point's Vice President of Design and Programming, Blake Wigdahl, says, "I think one of the things we often do in our regular life is we take for granted the things that we have. Listening and your sense of hearing is one of those. This exhibit allows you to step out of the natural world for a minute and pay attention to one of your most important senses which is hearing and better understand it."

The exhibit is on loan from the Exploratorium in San Francisco. It features more than 30 interactive stations that kids can see, touch and listen to. 

Cynthia Neuwmann is a mother from Salt Lake City: “My daughter said before we came that she didn’t want to go to the museum because it was going to be boring.  So she got really excited when she could put her hands on there and see things”.  She says the exhibit helps children learn in ways they couldn’t at school, “I think the best things is all the hands on things the kids can do, so they can experience things and get excited because they can put their hands on it”.

This hands-on learning approach may be the key to help struggling American students.   A recent report published by Harvard’s Program on Education Policy and Governance found that American students are falling behind in the classroom. Among 49 countries tested, half of all foreign students tested better than their American counterparts in math and science. Blake believes “The Science of Listening” and exhibits like it can inspire the next generation of students:

“We see our role as an informal science institution to really inspire that curiosity early on so that they pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math. Exhibits like this really peak that curiosity. Hopefully that curiosity leads to questions which then leads them to science careers."

Whether it’s learning about the science behind eavesdropping or discovering how different animals hear, “The Science of Listening” exhibit provides an active learning environment for children and adults.