We Tried It: Backyard Adventures Exhibit at Bishop Museum

Dress up like a bug, try out animal night vision and play video games to investigate the science found all around your backyard.

 

What: A limited-time, interactive science exhibit

Who: Two kindergarteners and their grown-ups

Where: Castle Memorial Building at Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum

When: A sneak peek during the media preview day

 

Backyard Adventures, Bishop Museum

Photo: Laura Dornbush

 

My science-loving six-year-old son, Duke, and his soccer teammate, Magnolia, had a chance to test out the new exhibit at Bishop Museum. When we arrived, they were giddy and giggling. It wasn’t until we entered the dark space and our eyes adjusted, that they understood how exciting the visit was really going to be.

 

When I say this is a hands-on exhibit, I mean it. In contrast to some of the other halls at the museum, EVERYTHING can be touched here. Duke and Magnolia immediately climbed up onto a larger-than-life bee bicycle inviting them to hop from flower to flower and becomes pollen collectors. Although their short legs didn’t reach the pedals, we improvised to get the gist of the activity.

 

Backyard Adventures, Bishop Museum

Photo: Laura Dornbush

 

Backyard Adventures, Bishop Museum

Photo: Laura Dornbush

 

Next up was the Garden Shed where keiki can build their own creations with colorful blocks at a worktable. Toward the back of the room, we engaged in a couple of video games to learn the food cycle of a pond and watch a pumpkin grow through the seasons. Duke and Magnolia loved punching the buttons and pulling the levers but needed our help to read the directions and many reminders to be patient.

 

Backyard Adventures, Bishop Museum

Photo: Laura Dornbush

 

If your keiki are fans of Chris Barton’s books, Shark vs. Train or Fire Truck Vs. Dragon, make sure to stop by the Plant vs. Insect video game. Here you’ll play against each other to explore the concept of survival of the fittest.

 

Duke said his favorite section was the active mini golf, plinko and foosball area—aimed at sharing some physics lessons— while Magnolia loved the pretend play area where she dressed up like a ladybug and flapped her wings.

 

Backyard Adventures, Bishop Museum

Photo: Laura Dornbush

 

Backyard Adventures, Bishop Museum

Photo: Laura Dornbush

 

Similar to Kid City and the Hawai‘i Children’s Discovery Center, this exhibit has a hands-on digging ‘sand’ box to explore elevation and weather using projection technology. Also in this area, stand back and watch as a house changes through the seasons using a clever combination of physical walls and projection mapping.

 

We spent about one hour hopping from activity to activity (approximately 15 in total), but you can expect to spend more or less time based on your child’s attention span. A few of the stations were best suited for kids aged 8-12, but the majority can be enjoyed by keiki age 4 and up. Good news—strollers are allowed, and there is plenty of space to roll from station to station!

Bishop Museum Backyard Adventures

Photo: Laura Dornbush

 

Bishop Museum Backyard Adventures

Photo: Laura Dornbush

As you can tell, Duke and Magnolia loved everything about Backyard Adventures, but to me it seemed contradictory to be learning about nature via video games in a dark exhibit with no windows. However, in the end, I’m game for whatever is going to get my son interested in learning!

Backyard Adventures, Bishop Museum

Photo: Laura Dornbush

 

Backyard Adventures, Bishop Museum

Photo: Laura Dornbush

Our Tips

  1. Go for a 1:1 ratio. Bring one adult per keiki. Each station appeals to different age groups and interests, so it will be hard to keep all your keiki together.
  2. Get engaged. T Keiki will get the most out of the exhibit with your adult assistance and explanation, especially if they are not yet able to read the signs at each station.
  3. Find a quiet spot. If your child gets overwhelmed or needs a break, sneak into the secluded bean bag area under the stairs and read one of the provided Hawaiian books.
  4. Take home a project. Look for the project guide handouts in the Garden Shed to show you how to make DIY creations, like a bird box.
  5. Continue the education. When you get home, go out into your own backyard to apply what you have learned. An outdoor classroom is always the BEST!

 

Backyard Adventures runs through August 20, 2023. Timed entry tickets can be booked from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Kama‘āina admission is $14.95 for adults, $10.95 for youth (4-17), and free for children age 3 and younger. 1525 Bernice Street, Kalihi. (808) 847-3511. bishopmuseum.org, @bishopmuseum