Design It! Build It! Test It!

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A new permanent exhibit has opened at the Science Museum of Western Virginia.

Design It! Build It! Test It! is a three-part exhibit that invites museum guests to play with larger than life blocks, fantastic paper airplane launchers, and an amazing gravity-driven obstacle course, allowing patrons to explore the scientific method of engineering through play. Design It! Build It! Test It! is divided into three areas: Imagination Playground, Take Flight, and Have a Ball.

The team who brought the exhibit to life includes:  Rachel Hopkins-Executive Director of the Science Museum of Western Virginia, Derek Kellogg-Scientific Director of the Science Museum of Western Virginia, Andrew Simmonds-Local Carpenter, and Mark Hodges, Exhibits Technician for the Science Museum of Western Virginia.  Design It! Build It! Test It! was made possible by generous contributions from Sue Ellen & John Rocovich and Irene & Tom Brock of Roanoke, Virginia.

Exhibit Sections

DesignBuildTest wall smImagination Playground – A child-directed and open-ended exhibit, encouraging self-expression through joyful play. Using giant blocks and an interactive wall, patrons design, build, and test various creative objects such as animals, rocket ships, and robots.



Take Flight 3 smTake Flight – Patrons are first challenged to build a paper airplane at the Take Flight table. After waiting for the runway to clear, the visitor guides the fuselage of their plane into the slot on the launch platform. The platform then launches the paper plane into flight toward a large target created especially for the museum by Andrew Simmonds.Visitors can test different airplane designs to see which design is the fastest, stays aloft the longest, or has the most complicated flight.


Have a Ball – A large assortment of magnetic ramps, chutes, spinners, tubes, and other amazing contraptions will provide guests with the tools for a truly memorable experience. Potential and kinetic energy, friction, inertia, and gravity are concepts that come to life with Have a Ball!

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