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Visit The Museum at Prairiefire

EDUCATION COMES TO LIFE AT THIS GREAT MUSUEM IN OVERLAND PARK

Article by Christian Sardis

Photography by Christian Sardis

The world we live in has created a new way of life for all of us. From how we grocery shop to how we interact with our family and friends; all of these things have changed. For a mom of two young, active, and inquisitive kids, it can be challenging to keep them occupied, intrigued, and learning all while staying as safe as possible. I was so grateful to hear that The Museum at Prairiefire located in Overland Park is open for all inquisitive minds, young and old. 

The Museum at Prairiefire (MAP) reopened in June fully equipped to provide a safe, educational space for its community. Procedures like wellness checks for its employees, multiple sanitation stations, and carefully placed social distancing signage gave a sense of confidence to me and my family. With the focus on providing its visitors with meaningful learning and engagement with science, culture, art, and natural history, I knew that my two kids were in for a very exciting time of learning and fun.

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Sardis Children, Kaidence, 7 and Eden, 3 walking into The Museum at Prairiefire (MAP). 

Everything about the museum holds a fun fact. The beautiful MAP exterior that resembles stained glass is not what it seems. The structure itself was created with a special material called Dichroic glass, the very same material that is used to create helmets for astronauts. Pretty fascinating, huh?

Outside of regularly hosting many natural history exhibits yearly, MAP also hosts regular events such as Science Happy Hour, the Little Explorers Club, and more. MAP also provides educational and STEAM ( science, technology, engineering, arts & math) opportunities to underserved children through the KC Urban Advantage which helps students break the cycle of poverty and become STEAM innovators.

Upon entering the museum, you can instantly walk with dinosaurs. Yep, you read that right. With the ALIVE AR Experience at MAP, you create your very own dinosaur and roam the land with it side-by-side. Visitors use a touch screen to choose from different fossil sites, choose a fossil, and learn interesting facts about a prehistoric creature. After gaining some knowledge you’re able to name your new dino friend and head to the Great Hall and walk with them on the big screen. Another cool feature is that you can also send your dino friend to yourself via email, which makes for a pretty cool digital souvenir. Just past the Great Hall is a huge (and I mean humongous) display of a T-Rex fossil to honor the first person to discover the monstrous dino, Kansas Native, Barnum Brown (yet another reason to be super proud to be from the midwest). 

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Kaidence creating her dinosaur friend, Velsy.

T. Rex display at the entrance of MAP Photo: C.Sardis 

Now, the discovery room on the 2nd floor of the museum was a fave with my kids. This space for children is filled with all types of historical study corners, like, Geology, Anthropology, and Zoology ( just to name a few). Some of these stations included wearing ancient masks from around the world and through time, learning how earthquakes happen, and even watching the care of a couple of cute critters like Degu’s, Turtles, Frogs, and Bearded Dragons. Even though the discovery room is filled with so many great things, sanitation and safety are continuously a priority at MAP. With a sanitation station at nearly every learning corner of the discovery room, my mind was greatly put at ease. There are so many more great activities to do in the discovery room, if you’re not careful you and the kiddos could be up there for hours, mine did not want to leave, I had to persuade them with lunch just to get outta there.

Sanitation Stations available all around the discovery room.

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Left: Kadience trying on an ancient Chinese mask in the discovery room.

Right: Kaidence taking a look at the butterfly and moth display in the discovery room.

Kaidence and Eden hands-on with red coral in the discovery room.

Currently, All Access tickets (which include all exhibits and the discovery room) are five dollars for everyone, which makes for a fun and affordable family outing. I highly recommend The Museum at Prairiefire for the entire family. This interesting alternative to learning for my family is a trip that we still talk about. My kids are already excited to return! 

Once we were able to get out of the Museum, we headed over to Rock & Brews which is a Rock & Roll themed restaurant with over 50 brews on tap with many available to sample (which was great for dad) and lots of food options for the whole family. I recommend the Rockin’ Nachos and the Steak Sandwich! This is a great spot to check out at Prariefire, among the coffee and dessert bar, Decadent, and Fat Brain Toys for a little extra educational play for the kids. 

For more information about Prairiefire and The Museum at Prairiefire visit their website at visitthemap.org.