Explore Physics in the Air with Discovery Gateway’s SkyCycle!

Have you ever wanted to soar in the sky with the greatest of ease? No, it’s not a flying trapeze, it’s the newest exhibit from Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum- the SkyCycle!

Opening April 22, kids and adults alike can explore principles of counterbalance and center of gravity while taking a thrilling ride on a 30-foot track. The SkyCycle exhibit has come out all the way from Orlando, Florida and was built by a company who produces rides for Disney World!

Members of Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum can get a special sneak preview of SkyCycle on April 21 from 2-5pm. They can enjoy free rides for the entire afternoon.

The public opening of the SkyCycle will be the following day on Saturday, April 22. Starting with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and special guest speakers at 10:30 am, there will be music, prizes, giveaways, food trucks, and educational activities.

Younger children and their families are encouraged to attend the opening event on April 22 and enjoy a Strider Bike Adventure Zone from 11 am – 2 pm inside the museum. Strider Adventure Zones are safe and friendly “Ride and Play” demo areas that encourage kids of all abilities from 18 months to 5 years to test ride a Strider Balance Bike and play with other kids, while improving and developing fundamental bike handling skills.

Strider Adventure Zone

The SkyCycle is made possible through generous support from the museum’s community partners, Kid to Kid stores and The Gateway. “Kid to Kid is delighted to sponsor this new exhibit that will bring the love of physics to children and families across the Wasatch front and beyond,” says President of BaseCamp Inc. Brent Sloan. “The SkyCycle is a unique, playful and educational element,” said, Jenny Cushing, VP of Leasing for Vestar, “and we are proud to sponsor and have this attraction at The Gateway.”

The SkyCycle will be open during regular museum hours: 10am-6pm on Monday – Thursday, 10am-7pm on Friday – Saturday, and noon-6pm on Sunday. SkyCycle rides are $5 for regular walk-up or $3 with museum admission, and the first ride is always free for Discovery Gateway membership holders.

Read SkyCycle Safety Considerations 

Cool Science Concepts your Kids Will Learn at Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum

20170227-Utah-Discovery Gateway Children's Museum-BirthdayRooms

*”If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement, and mystery of the world we live in.”

—Rachel Carson*

Walking into Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum brought back memories from nearly 20 years ago when I was the executive director of a children’s museum in Santa Barbara, California. Now with grown children, I also believe in the experiential learning that takes place within the walls of these museums and during the formative years of brain development.

A full-size Life Flight Helicopter interactive exhibit. Discovery Gateway Museum
A full-size Life Flight Helicopter interactive exhibit. Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum

I followed the rainbow colored stairs to the second floor where the museum exploded two stories higher with hands-on exhibits. The staff greeted me, and I was guided to a series of exhibits, watching a multitude of parents interacting with their children. The exhibits feed all five senses and one exhibit was specially designed for children on the Autism Spectrum.

Entering the first exhibit guests encounter The Garden, a giant beehive with plastic tubes that twist and turn and do curly-cues throughout the beehive structure. Hundreds of multi-colored plastic balls are available for kids to toss, throw or gently place in a variety of places to watch them swirl and twirl. They are able to work on their eye-hand coordination. “Everyone here is working together, playing together, and helping each other,” explains the museum’s executive director Laurie Hopkins.

The Garden exhibit is a giant beehive with plastic tubes that twist and turn and do curly-cues throughout the beehive structure. Discovery Gateway Museum
The Garden exhibit is a giant beehive with plastic tubes that twist and turn and do curly-cues throughout the beehive structure. Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum

Up the stairs to the second level, families gravitate to the Story Factory, which is filled with five activity centers for children to tell a story. The premise is for children to understand that their ideas can make connections, and through words, pictures, sounds, actions, and animation they can learn to tell a story. In one area they can use colored pencils and blocks with ink to create a story. A stage area, filled with costumes offers another area where children can use their imagination to make up and act out a story. One room is specifically designed for kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder. The Sensory Room, a quiet, dark room offers interactive stations for children to touch, feel, listen, and look. The exhibit gallery offers a space for children to be themselves and act out a story that can be funny, silly, or dramatic. It’s all about being playful and imaginative and drawing out the children’s unique imaginations.

One of the newest exhibits in the STEAM Studio (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) is the DG Derby exhibit, which teaches some of the basic elements of physics using pinewood derby cars. Parents remember some of their high school physics while kids learn concepts such as friction, gravity, kinetic energy, and drag. Kids can choose a car and race it down a ramp against others.

“Our interactive exhibits capitalize on the natural curiosity of young children and enhance the developmental milestones that occur during early childhood, and most importantly elevate the excitement around STEAM learning in a museum setting,” Hopkins says.

I step outside to the next exhibit to watch kids experiencing a full-size Life Flight Helicopter and interacting with the different stations that are part of a life-saving situation from the command center to the helicopter landing pad at the hospital and entering the nurses’ station. From there the kids can decide the extent of the patient’s injuries. Do they want to pretend to be a anesthesiologist, neurosurgeon, or an orthopedic surgeon? Or maybe an imaging technician or one of the nurses in charge? Kids can take charge in many ways throughout this exhibit.

The STEAM Studio (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) includes the DG Derby exhibit, which teaches some of the basic elements of physics using pinewood derby cars. Discovery Gateway Museum
The STEAM Studio (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) includes the DG Derby exhibit, which teaches some of the basic elements of physics using pinewood derby cars. Discovery Gateway Museum

Heading back inside, I engage with some of the parents whose children are building, interacting and learning from a multitude of stations in the STEAM Studio exhibit. Kids of all ages learn about magnetism and electricity. Numerous exhibits held the children’s attention with movement, handles, and building blocks. The freedom to explore in their own way was very apparent. Parents interacted with or observed their kids learning in experiential ways. Discovery Gateway exudes playful, imaginative learning that benefits varying ages of young children.

As Albert Einstein said: “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

Discovery Gateway is located in downtown Salt Lake City at 444 West 100 South and is open Monday through Thursday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday noon to 6 p.m. For more information about the museum, please visit or call 801-456-5437.

Originally written by RootsRated for Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum.

SkyCycle Safety Considerations

Recommended for ages 7 and above

Required height of 48” and above

Maximum weight of 225 lbs

Children under the age of 14 must have an adult chaperone present

Only one rider at a time

Cyclists must physically fit into the SkyCycle harness

Check your pockets for loose items (phones, change, etc.)

No food, drink or gum

Recommended closed-toe shoes and proper attire


Are under the influence of alcohol or any type of drugs

Are pregnant

Suffer from fear of heights

Suffer from heart conditions, back or neck ailments or any serious disabilities

Patrons have a responsibility to exercise good judgment and act in a responsible manner while riding the SkyCycle. Patrons have a responsibility to become familiar with and obey all oral and written warnings and instructions prior to and during their SkyCycle experience.




Learning for your Littles!


Now that school is back in session and many kids are heading to the classroom for the day, you may be wondering “how do I keep my little ones at home entertained and learning as well?” We know that Play is one of the best ways that a child can learn, and in addition to that there are a few great programs you can take part in at home to encourage learning for your littles!


Preschool Pioneer

This is an online collection of high quality educational resources for youngsters 3-6 years old. Find preschool activities, videos, and event information at no cost to you.

UPSTART Preschool

UPSTART is an in-home, technology-delivered kindergarten readiness program that gives preschool-aged children individualized reading, math and science instruction with a focus on reading. This program is full of games, songs and lessons that children love.

Utah Kids Ready to Read

The program exists so all parents and caregivers have the resources to nurture their children’s early literacy skills. By talking, singing, reading, writing and playing, children can develop as independent, lifelong readers.

These are just a few programs you can use to encourage the development of your littles! Remember, the learning your kids do in their early years sets the foundation for their school years to come.

Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum

Did you know that Discovery Gateway offers early childhood classes every weekday in the curiosity shop? Every day of the week there are also fun and educational classes that range from literacy- and culturally-based activities, to science, to visual and performing arts. Discovery Gateway’s daily classes and weekly workshops are free with admission to the Museum, and every DG program is based on research, evaluation, and testing. See the program calendar here.

For even more resources and activities call Help Me Grow Utah @ 801-691-5322 or visit

Kali Iverson— Help Me Grow Utah Community Liaison

Learning with All of Your Senses!

Nature Family

Summer is winding to a close but there is still so much fun to be had and so many things to learn! Sensory play can be a great thing for children of all ages, and should be a regular part of play. Why all the hype about sensory play you ask?

“Sensory play includes any activity that stimulates your young child’s senses: touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing. Sensory activities and sensory tables facilitate exploration and naturally encourage children to use scientific processes while they play, create, investigate and explore. Spending time stimulating their senses helps children develop cognitively, linguistically, socially and emotionally, physically and creatively.” (PBS)

Here are a few of our favorite easy sensory play activities:

Check out your community’s local splash pad! Let your children have fun exploring how water moves and flows all while staying cool. Find local splash pads here and don’t forget the sunscreen!

Kitchen musician: Explore different sounds with your child by taking a variety of bowls, pots, and pans to make a tiny drum set. Point out different sounds made by the different objects. What sounds are made when you bang a bowl with a spoon versus your hand?

Take a nature walk! Explore your own backyard or take a trip to a local park. Collect different things like rocks, dirt, and leaves, talk to your child about how things feel and look. What kind of sounds does your child hear while on your walk?

Visit Discovery Gateway’s Sensory Room and Social Stories Exhibit! Like all Discovery Gateway exhibits, the sensory is full of hands-on fun and exploration. In addition, the Sensory Room and Social Stories exhibit is dedicated to serving – and telling the story of – children on the autism spectrum.

Sensory activities are really easy to incorporate into play at home or in the community. What are some of your child’s favorite sensory activities? Add to your list of favorites by visiting our Pinterest page for more ideas

Kali Iverson— Help Me Grow Utah Community Liaison


Let’s Have a Ball!

The last few months we’ve been talking all about simple activity ideas, using our favorite things, books, blocks, and balls. Today we’re going to wrap up these simple activities by focusing on balls!

Balls have dynamics all their own:  they bounce, roll when pushed, soar when thrown, move unassisted down a ramp and come to a complete stop.  Because of this the dynamics of moving balls can help your child learn principles of physics and cause and effect.

Here’s some fun activities to try at home:

Quite the Catch: Using a variety of balls, try the following activities:

Drop the ball, let it bounce and then catch it.

Throw the ball into the air and catch it.

See how high you can throw the ball and still catch it.

Throw the ball into the air and see how many times you can clap your hands before you catch it.

Throw the ball against the wall and catch it.

Throw the ball back and forth with a friend.

Home Bowling: Using empty water or soda bottles, set up a small group of at least five bottles. Standing a few feet away, have your child roll a ball to the bottles and see how many he can know down. Make it a game with other people!

Balls in the Air: Hold the corners of a small blanket with your child to create a parachute. Place balls on the blanket and throw them up, trying to catch them on the blanket. Try different sized balls to add variation.

The Rhyming Ball Game: First have everyone sit in a circle. Hold a ball and say a word then roll it to the next person. The person who receives the ball then says a word that rhymes with your word. See how many words the circle can come up with, before picking a new word and starting again.

When you’re at Discovery Gateway next, be sure to have a ball in the Beehive exhibit in the Garden, the Magnet Wall in the STEAM Studio, the New Move It exhibit, and more!

Schools out for the Summer!


With a full summer ahead, I’m sure you’re wondering “How do I keep my kids entertained?” In a child’s eyes, summer can be full of freedom and fun. The last thing you want your kids to do is spend all this free time glued to the TV!

Summer can be an amazing time to encourage kids to explore, try new things, build relationships, continue learning, and so much more. It’s important to utilize this time with you children.

“Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well.” ― George R.R. Martin

Research shows that many children will lose some of the knowledge gained during the school year, during the summer months. It’s vitally important for kids to keep learning during this break from school. As a parent you can facilitate this in a lot of different ways! Here’s some great ideas to keep your youngsters learning and growing all summer long.

Summer Camps

These are a great resource in which kids can learn from structured activities that are a lot of fun, not to mention educational. There are hundreds of resources throughout Utah for summer camps, depending on interest, price, and length of time.

  • Discovery Gateway has a lot of options to offer! Check out what camps are still available:

Girls Go Digital Summer Camp hosted by Junior Achievement City

Learn how to HACK, DESIGN, CODE & MAKE using technology and computer science. Any level of interest and experience is welcome.

June 27 – 30 | Girls ages 8-18

Register today!

Theatrical Technology

Learn all about the moviemaking process through the science of lighting and sound design, and the art of costumes and scenery. Write, direct, design and perform your own short movie with your fellow campers! Get ready for your big debut during the movie premier on Friday night with parents and guardians in the audience!

July 25 – 29 | Ages 8-11

8 am – 5 pm

Register in person or online

  • You can find nearly every other summer camp out there by visiting this site!

Community Activities

  • On your mark, get set, READ! Connect with your libraries summer reading program, not only can you read some great books. Many libraries also have weekly activities for your family to enjoy! Find your local library here.
  • Free summer lunches are happening across the state at a variety of locations. These lunches provide nutritious food and a chance to socialize with your community. Find the closest one to you by clicking here.
  • There are lots of other great activities going on within your community all summer long. Click here to find some of our favorite summer activities around the state.

Activities to do on your own

  • Play Unplugged! Spend time having fun, exploring, and connecting with agencies in your community by collecting Brag Badges with your children. This is a fun and free way to keep busy and try new things! Find more info here.

Have even more questions about how to keep your summer fun for the whole family? Contact Help Me Grow Utah by visiting our website or dialing 2-1-1 and asking for Help Me Grow.

Blocks–Building More Than You Realize!

IMG_5897 copy

Picture this–You’ve just bought your child a great new toy. It’s fun, it’s colorful, and it’s supposed to be great for their development! You are so excited to pull it out and start the fun! But the next thing you know your child is playing with the empty box it came in and having the time of his life. Does this experience sound familiar?

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this type of story from parents! Children are curious beings and can make toys out of just about anything. Because of this some of our favorite toys to suggest to parents are a simple set of wooden blocks.

While playing with blocks, children learn all about counting, equality, addition, subtraction, planning, patterns, volume, classification, area and measurement. When parents engage with their child in block play it also provides teaching moments for social skills, language and exploration.

Check out these activity ideas to add some variety to your family’s block play:

  • Make your own blocks: Using standard size boxes (milk cartons, capri sun, etc.) you can make blocks by covering them with sturdy wrapping paper or contact paper. Allow your child to guide the activity and discuss the sizes as you create the blocks.
  • Create your home: Have your child look at the neighborhood and your home. Help them build a structure like your home. Make sure you take pictures and show off your child’s work whenever friends or family are around.
  • Knock ’Em Down: Margarine tubs are best for this. Children stack them up, then with flourish, knock them down. Of course, everyone applauds. Then you do it all over again. Kids love it!
  • Ramp It: Create a variety of ramps with blocks. Roll a small ball down the ramps. Which incline makes the ball roll slower? Faster?
  • Making Patterns: Provide blocks of different shapes or colors. Create a pattern for children to repeat, such as square, rectangle, square, rectangle or red, blue, red, blue. Ask children to create new patterns for you to repeat.
  • Visit Discovery Gateway’s Block Party Exhibit: Children can build amazing structures from floor to ceiling with the giant blue blocks, connecting parts into the gallery walls, and transforming the space with power of their imaginations.

Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Lily Edmondson plays in the new Imagination Playground Block Party at Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum in Salt Lake City, Thursday October 1, 2015.

Help Me Grow Utah has hundreds of age appropriate activity ideas for parents at no cost! You can learn more by calling 801-691-5322 or visiting

Kali Iverson—Community Liaison

Celebrate the Week of the Young Child!

Childhood is a celebration every day, but did you know that once a year we actually have a whole week dedicated to it? April 10 – 16 has been declared by the National Association for the Education of Young Children as the Week of the Young Child. During this week especially parents and families can make a special effort to celebrate the youngsters that surround us!

Here are a few ideas from the National Association for the Education of Young Children to make the most of this special week!

Music Monday!

Through music, children develop math, language, and literacy skills – All while having fun and being active! Find the beat to connect music, movement, and math. Practice clapping, drumming, or stomping to the beat of the music while counting.

Taco Tuesday 

Cooking together connects math with literacy skills, science, and more. Measure your ingredients while making your tacos! Ask children if they’d like the same or different amounts of each ingredient.

Work Together Wednesday 

When children build together they explore math and science concepts and develop their social and early literacy skills. Practice organizing blocks by size! Try building a block tower with large blocks on the bottom and little blocks on top!

Artsy Thursday

Children develop creativity, social skills and fine motor skills with open-ended art projects where they can make choices, use their imaginations, and create with their hands. Bring art outdoors! Offer dark and light paper, chalk and pastels, and suggest children create their own versions of the day and night sky!

Family Friday

Engaging and celebrating families is at the heart of supporting our youngest learners. Have a Family Friday breakfast, where you and your children can prepare and share breakfast treats while sharing memories!


To celebrate the Week of the Young Child Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum, Help Me Grow Utah, and other community partners are having an April Baby Shower! Bring your youngest learners and enjoy fun and interactive party activities including a ball pit, sensory wall and crawl, hand-print art, and giant bubbles! Join us at Discovery Gateway April 14, from 12pm to 4pm. Free admission for children ages 0-36 months.

Building Brains With Books!

Early Childhood Connections by Help Me Grow Utah by Kali Iverson—Community Liaison

 “The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” — Jim Trelease

Some of the simplest toys can bring the greatest growth. At Help Me Grow Utah, some of our favorite toys are books, balls, and blocks. Today we’re going to talk all about books! Books build communication, problem solving, and imagination skills. These are vital skills that your child needs for school readiness and life!

There are a lot of fun activities parents can do to make reading with children more fun! Here are a few examples:

  • Go on a reading campout. Build a tent in your living room or backyard. Ask your child to bring his or her favorite books and stuffed animals. Grab some flashlights and read together.
  • Find a recipe online or in a cookbook. Read the recipe out loud together and follow the instructions to cook something delicious.
  • Have a reading scavenger hunt. Choose a letter of the alphabet and talk about the sounds it makes. Go on a walk around your house, neighborhood, or children’s museum and find as many things as you can that start with that letter.
  • Make your own book. Using photographs and your child’s drawings, make a picture book together. Write the words to the story and then read your book together.
  • Put on a puppet show. Choose one of your child’s favorite books and read it together. Then make puppets out of socks or brown lunch bags. Act out the story for family or friends.

Help Me Grow Utah has hundreds of age appropriate activity ideas for parents at no cost! You can learn more by calling 801-691-5322.

Stay up to date at the Museum!