All aboard! The world’s most beloved #1 blue engine will be rolling into the Museum of Discovery and Science (MODS), a recent recipient of the 2023 National Medal for Museum and Library Service (IMLS).The traveling exhibit, Thomas & FriendsTM: Explore the Rails!, presented locally by Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, Florida Prepaid College Savings Plans and Tri-Rail will open at MODS on Friday, September 15, 2023. The exhibit will run through Monday, January 15, 2024. An official ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled to take place on Friday, September 15, at 10:30 a.m., with Meredith Feder, deputy director of MODS; Caitlin Stella, CEO of Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital; Ann Briggle Fonts, spokesperson for Florida Prepaid College Savings Plans; and David Dech, executive director of South Florida Regional Transportation Authority (SFRTA).
Featuring the favorite engines and destinations from Thomas & Friends™, the STEM (Science,
Technology, Engineering and Math) – focused exhibit seeks to engage children, ages 2 through 7, and families in foundational skills that foster STEM literacy through playful learning experiences. The exhibit incorporates STEM practices that encourage thinking mathematically, making comparisons, experimenting to solve problems using a variety of methods and tools, thinking creatively and reflecting on actions and results.
“It is with great excitement to bring Thomas & FriendsTM: Explore the Rails! to MODS, an exhibit that embodies the magic of learning through play,” said Joseph P. Cox, president & CEO of MODS. “We believe in nurturing curiosity and fostering a love for STEM. When young children explore STEM by connecting with activities and exhibits, they are building a significant foundation for STEM literacy with their young learners. This exhibit delivers high-quality playful learning experiences and leave children wanting more!”
Guests will be delighted as they are surrounded by the Island of Sodor’s iconic locations: Knapford Station, Sodor Steamworks and much more. In the exhibit, children help Thomas and his friends solve a variety of challenges, from a simple sorting and shape identification activity to more complex engineering obstacles, such as completing a train track using track pieces with different levels of elevation. As children encounter new challenges and test their abilities, the smiling faces of Thomas, Percy, Victor and others are there to offer encouragement and remind children how “really useful” they all are.
“Thomas & FriendsTM: Explore the Rails! allows children to learn through play in the early years, setting the stage for future learning and success,” said Caitlin Stella, CEO of Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital. “At Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital, we are proud to support the work of MODS that awakens the imagination to engage, educate and inspire healthy growth and development for children in our community.”
Inside the Exhibit:
- Climb into Thomas’ cab and explore the engine’s inner workings. Flip levers and investigate other movable parts that trigger train noises such as braking, whistles and steam.
- Fix Percy’s wobbly wheel by removing and replacing parts and experimenting to find a combination of wheels, rods and bolts that work.
- Explore the favorite Island of Sodor destinations including: Tidmouth Sheds, Brendam Docks and the Sodor Search & Rescue Station on an over-sized Thomas Wooden Railway train table.
- Work with old and new friends loading luggage, livestock and other freight into the coaches of two train cars.
- Collaborate with others to get Percy moving by loading coal into his coal box and filling his tank with water from a water tower.
- Suit up as the conductor to exchange money and sell tickets to other visitors taking a ride on the train.
- Wander through a Thomas & Friends retrospective featuring model engines from the original live action series produced in London, copies of the original drawings and 75 manuscripts from the Rev. W. Awdry, the creator of Thomas & Friends, and a collection of memorabilia documenting the history and evolution of Thomas & Friends through books, television and toys.
“Thomas & FriendsTM: Explore the Rails! is a great opportunity for families to help their children open their minds and build foundational skills in STEM. Today’s aspiring scientists, engineers and astronauts become tomorrow’s college graduates,” said Kevin Thompson, Florida Prepaid executive director. “We love partnering with MODS to present this exhibit so parents can support their children’s curious minds, while thinking about how to affordably save for their college experience.”
“Tri-Rail is proud to collaborate with the Museum of Discovery and Science, a magnificent institution that educates and inspires children in our region,” said David Dech, executive director of SFRTA. “As the regional commuter rail service that gets children and families to a wide variety of destinations throughout South Florida, Tri-Rail is a natural fit to support this interactive, train-focused program.”
The exhibit is included with Museum admission and will be open to the public daily through Monday, January 15, 2024. Thomas & Friends™: Explore the Rails! was designed and developed by Minnesota Children’s Museum in partnership with Mattel, Inc. Fisher-Price, the leading manufacturer of infant and preschool toys, is the presenting sponsor for the exhibit. The exhibit is nationally presented by Fisher-Price.
For more information, please visit mods.org.