Orpheum museum kicks off year with “evening drop-off events”

Greg Gancarz


On Saturday, Jan. 13, the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum in downtown Champaign hosted its second monthly drop-off event for children.

The three-hour long event took place from 5–7 p.m. and was meant to give parents a chance to enjoy a night out, while enjoying peace-of-mind knowing that their children were enjoying a safe, fun and educational evening at the museum. January’s event was polar themed.

Alex Dour, the education coordinator at the Orpheum museum, says that it’s been highly successful.

“We are having an event to give parents an opportunity for them to drop off their kids and kind of have a night out on their own, and for the kids to be in a safe place where they don’t need to worry about anything. They get a bit of a science activity as the night goes on, plus getting to play in the museum. Everybody wins with this,” Dour said, who has been with the museum for nearly three years.

Glenda Wold, a museum associate, believes the events are a great outlet for local children.

“These monthly events are important for the kids because they get to learn new things about the world around them through group activities, experiments, and play. They’re learning at a rapid pace because they’re having fun, and I’m glad we’re able to provide another outlet for them,” Wold said.

The next drop-off event, Valentine’s Day Chemistry, is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 17 from 5–8 p.m. Beside the chemistry theme, the event’s activity details are yet to be divulged.

In addition to the supervision and activities, children are provided a pizza dinner with the $25 fee for the events. The cost is reduced to $20 for Orpheum members. Parents can pre-register to make sure they get a spot before the 25-child cap is reached each month. Although the limit was not reached for January’s polar themed event, the first drop-off event in November ran out of spaces.

“All of the holidays and all of our other activities kind of prevented us from running one in December,” Dour said. “The plan is, this year, we are going to attempt these once every month. We already have one for February planned. It’s chemistry themed for Valentine’s day that month. Some of our board members and community members proposed an idea like this so we found a way to make it work.”

Activities at this month’s event were based on a number of chilly topics.

“The first [activity] we did, we talked about how penguins stay so dry because they have oil on their feathers so we recreated this by actually using wax. We covered their penguin pictures with it and then we sprayed them down with water and instead of soaking into the paper, it beads up on top so that you can wipe off all the water beads just like a penguin and it’s dry afterwards,” Dour said.

“The second one we did was polar bear fur, so we inflated a glove around their hands [to] provide an air insulation just like a polar bear has pockets of air in its fur which keeps it warm in water. Then the kids stuck their hands in freezing cold water, just for a second, but enough to feel that one hand was definitely colder than the other,” Dour said.

“And right now, they’re making borax crystals. So it’s a similar idea to water crystals just in a little more visible way that they can see and take home and it won’t melt on them,” Dour said.

Overall, museum employees like Wold are glad their jobs allow them to make a positive impact in their community.

“I enjoyed working at the [event] because I know that this is beneficial to many people. Of course it’s beneficial to the museum, but most importantly, it’s advantageous for the members of our community. I love interacting with the children,” Wold said. “These nights are also good for parents because they get to have a night to themselves knowing that their kids are safe, having fun and getting tired before bedtime, and possibly making a new friend. I’m proud that I get to serve and impact my community in a positive way.”