The I-74. The Arsenal. The Centennial.
The Quad Cities' biggest bridges transformed for our smallest citizens on Friday, October 12th at the Family Museum's opening of its newest exhibit - the River and Bridges Gallery.
Instead of boats, hands made waves in a mini Mississippi River and feet took the place of cars on a tiny I-74 bridge. All the area's roadways and waterways... from life-size to learning-size.
"It's exciting to get something brand new for the kids, something fresh," says Amy Anderson, from Bettendorf.
"It's just so much fun," says Mike Pace, from Bettendorf. "This is a really cool exhibit. Kids are going to learn a lot."
The educational exhibit puts local kids in, on, and over some of the structures adults see every day. Creators say it's a way to "bridge" the gap between the Quad City community and the kid community.
"What we really try to do is provide them with an enhanced experience, but really in a simple manner so they get a lot of community-oriented aspects of what we do here in the Quad Cities," says Jeff Reiter, the Business Development Manager with Family Museum.
In one corner, the winding and weaving river is 28 feet of fun. Kids can raise and lower the water levels and open and close a small version of Lock and Dam 15. On the other side of the room, the Centennial Bridge has musical instruments integrated into it for those with a "left" brain and a build-your-own-bridge station for those with a "right."
"We had a lot of concept teams that worked with us on this -- a lot of them were parents, school educators, folks like that," says Reiter.
And this is just the beginning. The next phase will connect the river room with replicas of a town square, farm, and market. Building for that phase is scheduled to begin in January 2013.
"It shows them a lot about what community means and the importance of it at a really young age and we hope they will grow up with good values because of some of the things we've sparked in them," says Reiter.