When art meets science and technology, kids do more than just learn — they’re inspired to think in new ways.
That’s the premise of ARTech, a free indoor science and technology-themed playground open now through April 29 at 451-459 W. 14th St. Created in partnership with the Children’s Museum of the Arts and New York Hall of Science, the two month-long pop-up of interactive activities, installations and workshops aims to inspire the next generation of scientists, programmers and engineers ages 4 and up.
“The Meatpacking District is the future of tech, so to be able to expose young kids to all these different elements felt natural for us,” says Lauren Danziger, executive director of the Meatpacking Business Improvement District.
The area is home to internet-focused businesses like Google and Giphy, side-by-side with art- and design-focused ventures like art galleries, the Whitney and fashion from the likes of Diane Von Furstenberg. ARTech merges those fields, explains Danziger, “and those little inspirations and experiences are what spark kids’ imaginations and kids’ ideas, and hopefully they will draw on these memories and create something that will propel them forward.”
The playground is made up of seven stations, some with varying difficulty levels suited to kids in a range of age levels. At Built It, the littlest visitors stack up large foam shapes, while bigger kids can construct any moving machine using the award-winning Rigamajig design kit.
Some of the stations also add an art element, which can make complicated ideas more approachable. As Barbara Hunt, executive director of the Children's Museum of the Arts, explains, “Art is an essential part of education — it fosters the ingenuity and creativity that is so important to science and technology fields.”
At Velocity, kids put physics laws into practical context by building their own race car using construction paper, pipe cleaner, paint and other craft items, then testing them down four ramps. They can also star in their own outer-space GIF with the help of Giphy, or see the night sky and travel to their favorite constellations inside the inflatable planetarium Starlab.
If kids need a break, there’s an inflatable ball pond to jump around before getting back to the brainy fun. Who knows, maybe that’s where they’ll find their big idea — theShower Principlecan totally apply to ball pits, too. Make sure not to miss artistDaniel Rozin’s sculpture that responds to your movements, and if you need an idea for what to do next, there’s a screen at the entrance cycling through local restaurants and things to do in the area.
ARTech is free and open Wednesday and Thursday 3-7 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. through April 29.