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November 27, 2014

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Education:

Lied’s new green exhibit an exercise in life lessons

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Leila Navidi

Teaching green: A scene from the grand opening of the Green Village exhibit at Lied Discovery Children’s Museum in Las Vegas on Feb. 20.

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A centerpiece with a green theme is shown during the grand opening of the Green Village exhibit at Lied Discovery Children's Museum on Feb. 20.

The Lied Discovery Children’s Museum got a green makeover recently with the opening of its Green Village exhibit.

The $335,000 interactive exhibit is an environmentally friendly update and expansion of the museum’s Everyday Living Pavilion. It was funded by private sponsors.

The new exhibit includes a 3,500-square-foot minivillage, including a car repair shop, utility office, grocer, bank, airport, plumber’s shop and state capital. Many of the structures bear the names of the companies sponsoring the renovation, including Smith’s, Bank of America and NV Energy.

The state capital building includes displays outlining trivia about the state and a voting machine. It will also show taped messages from Nevada’s political leaders.

“It was designed to give kids the experience of acting out a job, getting a paycheck, going to the bank, saving money and spending it in the grocery store, at NV Energy or at the plumber’s,” museum spokesman Brock Radke said. The new exhibit “is a huge, huge improvement.”

A lot of the play is intuitive, but the floor is always monitored by staff who can direct play and facilitate learning and teach a new concept.

The exhibit is designed to teach children ages 6 to 12 life lessons such as the importance of work and budgeting.

“We want them to understand that the things they have don’t grow on trees — mom and dad have to work to pay for them,” said Tifferney White, director of education and programs at the museum. “This allows the kids to learn these concepts without realizing it. And parents can take these ideas home and reinforce them as they come up in real life.”

The Green Village also has lessons for parents on everything from basic money management (this was designed for the kids, but many Americans can use a refresher) to green energy.

The exhibit houses a replica wind turbine, and the NV Energy office has displays on solar energy. At the same time, the mechanic’s shop has information about hybrid cars and rebuilt car parts. The plumber’s shop, sponsored by Interstate Plumbing and Air Conditioning, includes a tankless water heater, low-flow fixtures and advice on minor water conserving retrofits.

It also includes several green building elements such as recycled content, medium density fiberboard, reused or recycled exhibits such as an ATM at the bank and shelves in a grocery store.

“A lot of the green elements are educational for the parents as well as the kids,” White said. “Not a lot of people get to see a wind turbine or a solar panel up close.”

None of this would have been possible had the museum not spent the past three years recruiting sponsors. The museum was lucky to meet its final fundraising goal about a year ago, before the economy started its nose-dive.

Major donors include the Lied Foundation Trust, Fireman’s Fund Heritage Program, Ritter Charitable Trust, Richard Worthington and James Manning.

The museum is looking for donors to help redevelop other aging exhibits.

For more information on the Lied Discovery Children’s Museum, log on to www.ldcm.org.

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