“Adler Planetarium Opens First Community Design Lab,” by S.M. O’Connor

The Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum announced yesterday that the Community PlayLab had opened in the exhibit Planet Explorers.  Children six and under and their families are welcome here.  The theme of Community PlayLab is play.

The hope is children will learn through play.  The Adler Planetarium stated that a child “can transform into an astronaut, design a launch pad, experiment with water, or explore robots.”  There are four areas: the Imagination Station, table-top S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics) activities, a sensory table, and tot-spot.  The Adler Planetarium stated, “Community PlayLab encourages creativity, curiosity, exploration, and language and social skills in young leaners.”

This is the first of four Community Design Labs to open.  The other three Community Design Labs will be for visitors of all ages.  Each Community Design Lab will have its own theme.  

The Community Star Studio is set to open on Friday, November 22, 2019.  It will be located in the exhibit Chicago’s Night Sky.  The theme is art.  This will be an interactive workshop where one can work with mixed media to design, draw, color, or construct an image.

The Community Mobile Lab and the Community Workshop will both open in 2020.  The Community Mobile Lab will be located in the Our Solar System gallery.  The theme is social science.  This will be a collaborative workspace for people to explore ideas. 

The Community Workshop will be located in the History of Astronomy exhibit.  The theme is history.  Here, visitors will be able to examine the history of astronomical instruments and their inventors – from great scientists to gifted amateurs – and become makers themselves.

Admission is covered with Museum Entry.  Each Community Design Lab is open from 9:00 a.m. until one hour before closure.  Note that some of these spaces may be closed during summertime for use in Adler Summer Camps.

Funding for the expansion and enhancement of the Community Design Labs is thanks to an anonymous donor.  The donation was made in memory of Adler Planetarium Life Trustee Jay Northam Whipple, Junior (1933-2018).

The son of Jay Northam Whipple, Senior and Marjorie Cox Cordray, he was born and raised in north suburban Lake Forest, Illinois. A graduate of Philipps Exeter Academy, Yale University, and Northwestern Business School, he also served in the U.S. Army at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  Jay Northam Whipple, Sr. was a partner with the brokerage house Bacon, Whipple & Company from 1960 to 1982, when Stifel Financial Corp. acquired the firm.  He was also a senior advisor with Osprey Partners from 1978 to 1996.  Twice married, his first wife was Carol Coffey Swift, also of Lake Forest.  [In 1968, Carol Coffey Whipple wed Edward Foster Swift III (1923-2017) and became Carol Coffey Swift.]  Anne Reisse Whipple, to whom he was married for forty-eight years, was his second wife and widow.  Jay Northam Whipple, Sr. passed away on September 18, 2018.  His memorial service was held at First Presbyterian Church in Lake Forest.  He was survived by three surviving children, one stepson, and their surviving spouses: Jay Northam Whipple III and Kimberly Gladding Whipple, Elizabeth Whipple McKenna, William C. Whipple, and Whitson McNulty.  [Jay Northam Whipple, Sr. was predeceased by his stepson Phillip McNulty and his daughter Annabelle Lee.]  He was also survived by a total of eleven grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.  In addition to being a Life Trustee of the Adler Planetarium, he enjoyed to play paddle tennis and collected antique radios and television sets and electronic instrumentation.

      The Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum is located at the northeastern corner of Northerly Island, which is really a peninsula.  It is the only island from a chain of artificial islands Daniel Hudson Burnham, Senior (1846-1912) and Edward H. Bennett (1874-1954) called for in the Plan of Chicago.  Northerly Island is part of the Chicago Park District’s Burnham ParkThe Field Museum of Natural History, the John G. Shedd Aquarium, and Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum comprise the Museum Campus at the northern end of Burnham Park, east of Grant Park in downtown Chicago.  Soldier Field and the Lakeside Center of McCormick Place are immediately south of the Museum Campus.  The Arie Crown Theater is inside the Lakeside Center.

      This time of year, the Adler Planetarium is open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  It is open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. during “Winter Break” from Thursday, December 26, 2019 through Wednesday, January 1, 2020.  It will be closed on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday, November 28, 2019) and Christmas Day (Wednesday, December 25, 2019).

      The address is 1300 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60605.  The phone number is (312) 922-7827.  The Website U.R.L. is https://www.adlerplanetarium.org.

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