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The 30,000 square foot 'hands-on, minds-on' kids' museum being built in Camarillo

Caroline Feraday
Water play is a popular feature in their outdoor space

It’ll feature hands on science and technology learning for children, and be accessible in Ventura County.

Water is running down an outside exhibit here at KidSTREAM Children's Museum in Camarillo, as children play.

The site, at the former Camarillo Public Library, currently houses their Vision Room, where children are exploring hands-on exhibits – from a machine which makes colored scarves fly into the air, to a Musicon – a coding and music machine from Poland - which can be programmed to play music, using a series of buttons.

"We converted this room right here, it's about 2500 square feet, into our Vision Room where we prototype exhibits," explained Kristie Akl, the founder of KidSTREAM Children’s Museum.

Caroline Feraday
Children play in the Vision Room at Kidstream Children's Museum in Camarillo

"Children test and tell us whether or not this works as a children's museum exhibit," said Akl. "Fortunately, as you can see, a lot of these have passed the test."

Akl says the exhibits here help children learn Science, Technology, Reading, Art and Math - known as STREAM - through play.

"It's a hands-on, minds-on, child-led environment that is so desperately needed now really more than ever because we have been holed up and not been able to be social for nearly three years," Akl told KCLU. "We are excited to bring this resource which is so needed in Ventura county."

Bryan Yee, a board member at KidSTREAM, says the museum is much needed in the community, where families would otherwise face a lengthy drive to a similar facility.

"This is so much more than a physical museum. It's an opportunity to create access and equity to high-quality hands on STREAM learning that we believe will benefit generations of children in Ventura County," said Yee.

Caroline Feraday
There are opportunities to learn and explore

Originally scheduled to open in 2020, the children’s museum hit a snag that so many faced. The pandemic. Trying to open a hands-on facility for children, as the world shut down and socially distanced meant they had to pivot and rethink, before they’d even begun.

"Over the course of the last six years we have served over 45,000 families primarily though our outreach," explained Michael Shanklin, the Executive Director of the Museum.

"My job is to get this museum up and running so that we increase our impact and instead of inspiring 7-8000 kids a year, we inspire upwards of 150,000 per year through hands-on children's museum experience."

Caroline Feraday
There are interactive hands-on exhibits

Parents here today with their children, say they’re excited to have the museum in the community, as it’s building up to expand to opening a much larger 30,000 square foot space at the same site in 2023.

"There's a really nice area here which reminds me of camping outside. She's having fun," said one.

"My daughter is here exploring all of the sensory activities here," said another.

"He's actually been quite stimulated here. For a 19-month-old boy, he could spend hours here," said another parent.

"You get busy as a parent doing cleaning and cooking and all the house chores, but here I'm able to focus more on him and watch him and see how he plays with different children and the toys," another parent said.

"For the first two years of his life, everything was so limited and everyone was in masks - he couldn't even see faces. Now this is sensory overload. After seeing everything in black and it's a rainbow," said another.

The Vision Room is not yet open for drop-in play, but is available for private reservations, and events and programs.

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022.

Since joining the station she's won 7 Golden Mike Awards, 4 Los Angeles Press Club Awards and 2 National Arts & Entertainment Awards.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for ten years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.