Just in time for MLB spring training, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh offers “Big League Fun!” Kids will learn baseball skills and STEM lessons while playing in this interactive traveling exhibit from the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum in Milwaukee.
Parents and grandparents get involved in the action by taking cues from Head Coach signage with activity suggestions for the exhibit components, as well as tips for fun at home. It’s a terrific opportunity for exchanging baseball lore and memories across generations.
There are plenty of activities for all ages, from toddlers to big kids who can handle math challenges and more sophisticated physical coordination.
Be sure to spend some quiet time, too, with the selection of baseball-related books. Intriguing titles include “Dirt on The Skirts,” “Brothers at Bat” and “Curious George at the Baseball Game.”
Here are some of our favorite activities at “Big League Fun!”
1. The Announcers Booth
Kids are in complete control here, choosing from four exciting videos of actual game footage. Chances are they’ll pick that amazingly successful rundown between second and third base by Josh Harrison in a Pirates win over the Mets. Kids can record their own play-by-play to the videos, upping their announcer game with sound effects: a cheering crowd, an organ “charge!” or the crack of a bat. Grownups in the group will enjoy hearing familiar voices like Bob Eucker’s “Just outside!” and Harry Carey’s “Holy Cow!”
2. The Pitcher’s Mound
Older kids learn a physics lesson on the biomechanics of throwing a ball. To keep the ball moving longer and straighter, for example, hold the ball over the seams horizontally. Additional advice on pitch grips and ball trajectories guide kids when they take the mound, throwing toward the cutout of a baseball player up at-bat. An electronic board displays pitches that make it to the strike zone. Little kids might not get the science, but they love tossing those rubber baseballs around! Behind the Plexiglass screen beyond the batter, kids strap on an umpire facemask and chest protector to make the calls as they come. Stee-rike!
3. The Batting Cage
Kids pop on a batting helmet and step up to the tee where they can whack a ball in the Home Run Derby. A mighty swing sends the ball into the digital screen that records the swing count, displays the ball’s trajectory and reports the outcome of the hit. Outside the cage, learn the best stance and dynamics of the swing, including the stride, pivot, drive and finish. Hello, Little League All-Stars!
4. Stealing Second
Kids jump on the first base bag to reboot the clock. On ready, set, go, they take off as fast as they can to steal second base. A timer tracks their performance on the track that’s half the true distance between bases on a major league field. The screen at the end shows the time and tracks the Top 10 speeds to beat.
5. On-field Sports Reporter
Kids can grab a microphone and be the sports reporter for between inning updates and interviews with players and fans. With a colleague behind the camera, the reporter can view her performance on the video screen in front. Sample interviews and scripts are available on official clipboards, but when kids bring their imagination and perform spontaneously, it’s way more interesting.
6. Design Your Own Baseball Card
This photo-op booth allows kids to choose a team and position – or even designate themselves as an MVP. They use magnetic letters to add their name and personalize their baseball card with more than their face. Mom or Dad can snap the photo to share with the rest of the family.
“Big League Fun!” runs through May 10 at the Children’s Museum. The exhibit is free with museum admission.