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Five things to do at BCM’s new exhibit The Big Adventure

Fearless tykes hone hands-on creativity and problem-solving skills at “The Big Adventure,” the Brooklyn Children's Museum's action-packed new exhibit.

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Children's Museum: "The Big Adventure"

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Children's Museum: "The Big Adventure"

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Children's Museum: "The Big Adventure"

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Children's Museum: "The Big Adventure"

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Children's Museum: "The Big Adventure"

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Children's Museum: "The Big Adventure"

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Children's Museum: "The Big Adventure"

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Children's Museum: "The Big Adventure"

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Children's Museum: "The Big Adventure"

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Children's Museum: "The Big Adventure"

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Children's Museum: "The Big Adventure"

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Children's Museum: "The Big Adventure"

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Children's Museum: "The Big Adventure"

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Children's Museum: "The Big Adventure"

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Children's Museum: "The Big Adventure"

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Children's Museum: "The Big Adventure"

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Children's Museum: "The Big Adventure"

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Children's Museum: "The Big Adventure"

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Children's Museum: "The Big Adventure"

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Children's Museum: "The Big Adventure"

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Children's Museum: "The Big Adventure"

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Children's Museum: "The Big Adventure"

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Children's Museum: "The Big Adventure"

  • Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

    Brooklyn Children's Museum: "The Big Adventure"

Photograph: Caroline Voagen Nelson

Brooklyn Children's Museum: "The Big Adventure"


"The Big Adventure," the latest traveling exhibit at the Brooklyn Children's Museum, presents a fresh, tot-friendly take on the popular "Choose Your Own Adventure" children's book series with a series of active challenges. Just like BCM exhibits  "Global Shoes" and "World Brooklyn", "The Big Adventure" is all about experiential learning rather than fact-heavy displays. Eight thrill-seeking stations incorporate skills like climbing, flying and creative thinking, and the exhibit is interspersed with compasses kids can spin if they want to add an element of surprise to their adventure. To get a feel for "The Big Adventure," we embarked on our own exploration of its dark tunnels, dangerous waters and daunting rock climbing wall. Here are five ways your kids can get in on the action.

Follow in the footsteps of famous adventurers
Before setting off on their own paths through the exhibit, kids can don a plastic pith helmet and check out the Who's Like You? panel, where they can identify with real-life and fictional explorers who share similar penchants for adventure. Kids who like to solve problems will be inspired by chemist Marie Curie and Magic School Bus teacher Mrs. Frizzle, while active kids who like to climb or fly can see how they stack up against legends like King Kong and astronaut Mae Jemison.

Build confidence
After getting inspired by notable explorers, future Edmund Hillarys can head to the Adventure Mountain station, where they'll work up the nerve to scale a six-foot rock wall. (Helmets and a safety mat are available, but parents should be sure to stick around as a spotter.) Think it's a cinch? Spin the compass to mix it up—and see if you can climb using only the red handholds. Next, intrepid kids can attempt Out on a Ledge, where they'll feel like they're three stories off the ground as they attempt to move from one "building" to another on a balance beam. Don't worry if your tot can't stay on—a crew of fire fighters is on hand to "catch" her in the Brooklyn-esque mural painted to represent the city street below.

Burn off energy
At the heart of the exhibit is a playground-like structure featuring tunnels, a wavy slide and a crow's nest, encouraging freer, more intense activity than any of the other stations. Kids can choose their own adventure here, whether it's using handholds to scale tunnel walls Spidey-style or cracking a safe built into the structure with the aid of clues.

Get creative
Little explorers who want an outlet for their creativity can head to Charlie's Web, a series of three giant bungee webs that kids are encouraged to climb through. After learning the way of the webs, museumgoers can rearrange the bungee cords to create more challenging situations. River Crossing: Bridge Out! invites kids to be innovative as well, imagining that they find themselves at a bridge that has given out over a crocodile-infested river. Tykes can use lily pads, scuba fins or wooden planks as they figure out their own way to cross to the other side.

Hone problem-solving skills by piloting a plane
The most complex task in the exhibit is the Virtual Flyer, a wooden glider that simulates a real aircraft through a video game–like projection on the exhibit wall. After clambering onto the plane and leveling it out, junior pilots work together to tilt the wings from side to side to avoid crashing into airborne obstacles (think hot-air balloons, flying saucers, mountains and a hungry monster). If they hit too many obstacles, they'll lose too much fuel, thus necessitating an emergency landing; if they make it through the sky sans contact, they'll successfully return to the hangar. Whew, what a trip!

"The Big Adventure" is on view at the Brooklyn Children's Museum through September 15.


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