After 25 years in development, Santa Barbara now has an ingenious place where its community can learn, play, and grow together. The Wolf Museum of Exploration and Innovation, or MOXI, is changing the way we look at learning institutions. It is a 21st century museum that teaches the 21st century skills of collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity through experiences with science, technology, engineering, arts and math. MOXI is a flagship for what museums could be like, and Dr. Robin Gose is the new captain. Her goal with MOXI is to steer the Santa Barbara community to have a greater appreciation for science and technology, encourage more question askers and create more well-rounded citizens. But most importantly, Robin’s goal is to show people how to have fun with learning. As her own kids would say, “it’s time to play science.”
Robin’s passion for science and education came at a young age through her father. Working for NASA, Robin’s father would take her to see models of space crafts, let her play with liquid nitrogen and meet many scientists. However, it was not until 5th grade that Robin realized the type of science she wanted to teach other people. On a field trip to a Hill Country ranch (outside Austin, Texas, where Robin grew up), she waded in a cool river collecting water samples. The physical act of going out into the water, collecting the samples and observing them under microscopes with her own eyes offered an experience that Robin hadn’t received in her school textbooks. This type of hands-on learning is what Robin knew she needed to share with others.
MOXI has chosen to harness Robin’s passion for informal education, so she can lead the museum to ignite the curiosity of all its visitors. MOXI has only been open for a year, but it has already exceeded expectations. More than 175K visitors have explored the various exhibits MOXI offers. With seven unique categories of hands-on learning exhibits to discover – from interactive media to fantastic forces – MOXI provides a place to spark ideas and embrace innovation. It does not matter how old you are, you are never too old to “play science.” Learning is a lifelong adventure. Just the other day, Robin watched as an 80-year-old couple played through the Walk, Leap, Jump exhibit with the man holding a walker and carrying an oxygen tank, laughing the whole way. You don’t need to be a child to have fun exploring MOXI. MOXI will show you how to find the joy in learning no matter what age you are.
A key to MOXI’s success is connecting with the local tech industry of Santa Barbara and highlighting the innovation present. There are tons of high tech resources for all visitors to explore and learn from. Robin’s aim is to have MOXI be a place where we can all learn something new each visit and take our curiosity home with us. MOXI welcomes students from throughout the Tri-Counties on field trips which can include an Engineering Design workshop. It also offers free admission to teachers. MOXI engages an adult audience through its Twilight Time extended hours and special adults-only events called Afterparties. It is all about the community growing and learning in a collaborative, fun environment. As the years go by, MOXI plans to grow with us and provide the fun learning environment needed to spark that creative child we all have inside.