Kids are buzzing around the new exhibit at Kidzu Children's Museum - literally.
This summer, the Chapel Hill museum at University Place opened The Hive and The Front Yard, two new spaces that focus on how pollinators affect our environment and how we affect native pollinators.
On the inside, you'll find a hive that kids can play in, along with stations around Kidzu's other exhibits where they can pick up little pollen puffs and learn a bit about the flowers bees flock too. To really get into the action, they can don adorable bee costumes, choosing anatomically correct pieces to become a worker bee, carpenter bee or bumblebee.
Outside, the museum, next to the Alfredo's Pizza Kitchen mall entrance, you'll find another hive, along with raised beds with a variety of native plants and stumps to sit on for storytimes and other programs. Kidzu has worked to make it wheelchair accessible so all visitors can take part. This is the first outdoor exhibit for Kidzu in its decade-long history.
The indoor and outdoor exhibits are connected in several ways. For instance, flower stations inside where you can pick up those pollen puffs feature drawings of flowers such as the purple cone or blanket flower that kids can see growing outside. The outdoor exhibit also offers a space where kids can explore nature and get a little messy, both important for their growth and development.
"Getting dirty isn't a bad thing. It's good," said Molly Trask, Kidzu's lead designer of exhibits and graphics.
Of course, plenty of kids are timid around bees, but Kidzu leaders hope the exhibits will build an understanding about the insects and how critical they are to our own survival. The exhibit was built thanks to a grant from Burt's Bees Greater Good Foundation.
"It's hard to be scared of something that you really know well," Trask said. "It's a good lesson to be up close and personal with something that's so important to us."
More is planned for the outdoor exhibit, including a large mural where local artists will paint their own depictions of bees. The exhibit, itself, was built with community help and resources. The hives are made from locally sourced juniper wood. The N.C. Botanical Garden donated most of the plants.
Kidzu will offer special events outside in the garden. They include the 10:15 a.m., Thursday, Junior Gardners program where kids and their adults can help tend to the garden. The outdoor exhibit is open and free to the public except when Kidzu is holding a special event there. The indoor exhibit is free with admission to Kidzu, which is $7.50 per person.