While we love our signature Space Escape event, we knew that Chicago was ready for more STEM-focused activities - and Wonder Hour was born! Wonder Hour is our very own STEM Storytime, where we dive deep into a story and then work together to complete a related STEM Challenge. Our very first Wonder Hour event was this past Friday at Purple Monkey and we had THE. BEST. TIME!

We kicked things off with a chance for everyone to stretch their legs, meet new friends and play! The power of play is so important - and especially on a Friday night after a busy week of school. After a few trips down the slide and approximately 100 train table races, everyone fueled up with some pizza and we got down to business with our STEM Storytime.

Our first story was Blizzard, written by John Rocco about his own experience during a blizzard when he was a little boy. In the book, four feet of snow falls and John and his family become stranded for days. As food runs low, John remembers what he learned in his Arctic Survival Manual so he attaches tennis rackets to his shoes and is able to get to the store safely (engineering at its finest!). He even stops by all of the houses in his neighborhood so he can get enough food to help everyone. After we wrapped up the book, we decided we wanted to see a blizzard in action! 

Each kiddo created their own blizzard-in-a-jar, which took some patience and teamwork! First went in the water, and we talked about how the food coloring spread through the water because of diffusion, while the drop of white paint for the clouds required us to shake it in order to mix, which is called agitation. Next up was the baby oil. We observed that the baby oil and water did not mix, and made a lot of great hypotheses about why this might be. We even tried testing our theory by shaking the jars! The last step was definitely the most fun - we dropped in “snow circle” and watched the blizzard begin! Cheers, high-fives and a lot of “wows!” later - we almost felt like we were with John at the beginning of his Blizzard journey.

After a quick play break, we read another quick story called Bunny Slopes by Claudia Rueda. This book is all about a bunny who wants to go skiing but needs your help to make it happen! We twisted, turned and shook the book juuust right until bunny was able to get down the hill and back home to his rabbit hole. It reminded a few of us of one of our favorites, Press Here by Herve Tullet.

So of course, it was time for us to try it out! We grabbed our bunnies (which looked a whole lot like cotton balls...) and built some pretty incredible sleds and skis to whisk bunny down the hill. We noticed that the bunnies traveled a lot further when the slope was higher, so after some extra building, we had a ski slope that was fast, fun and took our bunnies super far. Of course there are always ways to edit and reimagine your design, so it was fun to see how the sleds evolved and how teams worked together to create their best designs.

The best part about Wonder Hour is that the fun doesn't end here! Each family went home with a fun activity to try the next time it snows - it’s below if you’d like to take a peek. All you need is a dark piece of paper and some snow, which Chicago is sure to send our way again before the season is over. A huge thank you to Purple Monkey for having us! We had a blast and can’t wait for our next Wonder Hour STEM Storytime event soon! In the meantime, check out some fun STEM activities at Home and join in on the fun on Instagram!

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