Children's Museum reopens

Although it's not Holland, Nevada does have its fair share of windmills. But the new exhibit at the children's museum will give a view that few Nevadans or even the Dutch have seen.

"Most people have seen a windmill, but nobody sees what they look like underground," said Bob Hunt, exhibit designer and builder for the museum.

The windmill exhibit is one of two new features at the Children's Museum of Northern Nevada that opens today after being closed for a month by renovations.

The exhibit demonstrates how the wind-powered pump draws water from deep within the ground. An American-style windmill sits atop a large wooden box.

Lighted windows along the box allow visitors to peer beneath the windmill and see how the rotating vanes propel the pump below ground.

Hunt came up with the idea working with a group of seven teenage boys in the JOIN program last year. The teenagers helped to design and build the windmill, or, technically, the wind pump.

Hunt said it is a valuable exhibit for the museum because of its historical and educational perspectives.

"The first recorded use of them was by the Phoenicians in about 600 B.C.," he said. "They are still being installed to be used today because it uses practically no energy because the wind drives the pump."

Behind the windmill is a diagram charting the cycle of water from rainfall to evaporation.

"We have to have water to live," Hunt said. "This exhibit is all about how water works."

The second new exhibit is a large game similar to "Memory." The wall is covered with blue and green doors. Behind each blue door is a question and behind each green door is an answer.

The object of the game is to match the questions with the answers, challenging the player's concentration while teaching facts.

Suzi Meehan, the museum's executive director, is pleased with the additions.

"I think they're wonderful," she said. "The kids will have new things when they come back."

Meehan said the museum closed for the last three years during September to make renovations and for a general cleaning. The closure is necessary, but Meehan said she is anxious to open.

"It's been kind of boring over the last month. The whole purpose of us being here is for the kids," she said. "The whole place lights up when kids are around."

The museum's after-school program also begin today.

"It's a safe place for kids to go after school," said Tiny Francis, activities director. "It's a learning program rather than just playing."

She said they are looking for volunteers to teach classes ranging from science to sewing for the program.

Francis also holds a program for toddlers and their parents on Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon.


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