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Idea Lab

Join MOHAI as we tinker, experiment, and create our way through history. Explore in the Idea Lab in the Bezos Center for Innovation or at home using the templates and videos. Activities change regularly!

Explore examples of innovations throughout history, build skills for innovation, and let your imagination soar with activities for the young and young at heart that rotate bi-monthly. At the museum, sit down at the Idea Lab any time for a self-guided, hands-on activity inspired by MOHAI exhibits and programs. Explore the same ideas at home with videos and downloadable instructions for a craft or experiment designed by MOHAI Educators.

Currently at the Idea Lab

Seattle has inspired countless stories throughout history, both as a place to write stories about, and as a place for people to hear and share stories. Dip your toes into the storytelling and literary history of the Puget Sound region with magnetic poetry, bookmaking, and more!

Storytelling

At the Museum

Reflect on the stories you’ve seen or heard in the galleries at MOHAI and use magnetic words to create a poem inspired by your visit.

Online

Explore Seattle’s literary history and take a closer look at two different innovations in reading technology. Then learn how to make three different types of books made from a single sheet of paper.

At Home

How many ways can you make a book out of a single sheet of paper? We’ll show you three!

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Past At-Home Activities

On-site Idea Lab activities rotate regularly, but you can still enjoy the videos and at-home activities from prior months!

City Planning

What would make your community or city an even better place to live? How can we make sure that projects like new buildings, parks, and public transit meet a wide range of community needs now and in the future? Learn about past plans for the city’s future and ask questions about why our cities, neighborhoods, and homes look the way they do today. At home, download and print a neighborhood bingo to explore the impacts of urban planning in your own community.

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Idea Lab worksheet for January 2023 on clipboard outside MOHAI.

Computers

Seattle has long been a hub for innovation in computer technology. Let’s explore some of the early history and basic foundations of computer programming! Learn about early computers and the fundamentals of coding, then practice your coding skills with a simple game you can play with your friends and family in which one person is the programmer and the other is the computer.

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Idea Lab Computer Logic Activity

Photography

View the world through a new lens! Explore how innovations in photographic technology have changed the way we see and document the world around us. Then, learn how to build a portable camera obscura that captures light.

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Person using portable camera obscura

Boats

Seattle is a city of water – it’s all around us! What makes boats float? Learn about some of the important elements of boat design, then complete a buoyancy challenge at home.

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A square "boat" made out of aluminum foil, supporting 8 screw nuts

Music

Rock out with MOHAI! Learn about the history and science behind the electric guitar, then explore the relationship between vibration and sound with a simple but musical cardboard box guitar you can build at home.

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Guitar crafted with household supplies

Clocks

Explore the simple machines that make mechanical clocks tick!  Take a peek into the past with one of our outdoor artifacts, the Carroll’s clock, on display on the MOHAI Boeing Centennial Terrace. Then, learn how to use everyday materials and the physics of pendulums to make works of art at home!

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da Vinci Bridge

Explore the many bridges of Seattle and the basic elements of bridge design. Then, learn about a unique bridge designed by Leonardo da Vinci that can be built and deconstructed rapidly, and how build your own version at home! Pair the activities with a visit to Da Vinci – Inventions, currently on view at MOHAI.

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Arching bridge built with tongue depressors

George Tsutakawa

Explore the art and process of renowned painter and sculptor George Tsutakawa. Watch a quick introduction to the fountains of George Tsutakawa, then explore how water falls over and through different shapes.

Explore the shapes that water makes and design your own fountain sculpture at home!

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Water being poured over small orange sphere

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