With the push of a button, children as young as 2 send a boat sailing up the lane at Kohl's Children's Museum, kohlchildrensmuseum.org. They can switch the sails to catch the wind and learn about aerodynamics.
"I think they learned today that the square sail really pushes the boat further and teaching them a lot about energy," Jessica Hubert, parent said.
In another part, wind powers a tiny turbine and produces electricity. The concept may seem a bit weighty for a child so small, but organizers say the interactive displays make the ideas simple enough for even toddlers to grasp.
"Literally, by trial and error and direct feedback and by their own interactions with the environment, they're learning about things. What if I change this? What if I change that? What will happen? And they're getting direct feedback. And that's what science is all about," Sheridan Turner, president and CEO of Kohl Children's Museum of Greater Chicago, said.
The exhibit also teaches children the basic of how photovoltaic cells or solar panels work -- turning the sun into energy that is used for electricity. the hope is that this early exposure will stimulate an interest in these subjects as they grow older.
"So getting children really prepared for a future love of learning, particularly in the areas of STEM, science, technology, engineering and math and literacy because you get a lot of language skills going on. Where else do you talk about photovotaic cells?" Turner said.
The Kohl Children's Museum Of Greater Chicago targets children ages birth to 8 years old. Powered by Nature is a permanent exhibit, but visitors might also want to check out two other temporary displays. Science and You runs through December 30, 2011; Spin: The Science Of Rotation runs through August 2012. kohlchildrensmuseum.org