In just a few months, we will begin construction on Sensory Cove, a space that will allow our guests with Sensory Processing Disorders (SPD) or who are neurodivergent to take a break from all the excitement of the museum! The area will be located in Discovery Cove (the same gallery that houses The Whoosh and Bed of Nails) and open in 2024 (TBD).
Through the years, we have worked to make our science center more accessible for our SPD and neurodivergent guests by offering sensory backpacks, a calming corner, social stories, and sensory maps as well as implementing sensory-friendly hours. Through feedback from guests, we knew that this separate space was the next step.
Let us tell you about Sensory Cove’s design!
Guests will enter the space from a frosted glass door where they will encounter a small area split into three distinct sections. Directly ahead of them will be a carpeted reading hangout, with a cozy soft armchair, a side table with books (chosen particularly for those with SPD), and a puffy ottoman-style bean bag chair for relaxing. The space will contain soft lighting that can be dimmed by parents to suit their child’s comfort level, along with ambient music and sounds that will help create a sense of peace. Patterned felt pieces will cover the wall to help dampen the sound while providing an interesting tactile experience.
On the opposite wall, additional textures will be included in three touch circles that allow guests to feel and see the patterns on different material surfaces.
In the rear wall of this space, there will be a circle embedded into the wall that will be filled with a flat panel of illuminated marbles. This marble wall will offer an enjoyable sensory experience when children slide their hands across the dozens of marbles. As the marbles spin, the patterns will change, and the guest will receive both visual and tactile feedback.
To the right of the door there will be a sensory activity alcove with a padded vinyl floor to create a place for lying and lounging. A “gobo” will light up the area with soft colors and subtle, moving patterns. Parents will be able to control the brightness of the light wash using a dimmer. Large, moveable bean bags will provide comfortable places to hang out.
A tall bubble wall will divide this space from the reading area with beautiful bubbles that will perpetually flow upward in the vertical case.
A set of wiggle washers are mounted to the wall of the alcove. When children lift the metal washers on these threaded rods and release them, the washers will cascade down, rocking back and forth and creating pleasing, repetitive sounds.
The alcove wall will also hold an array of dome mirrors of different sizes that will create intriguing, playful views of faces and the room.
A large tub will contain a variety of sensory toys with different textures and sounds, specially chosen to address the needs of children with SPD.
At the rear of the Sensory Cove will sit the enclosed hideaway, a more secluded space with padded vinyl flooring where kids can curl up with a weighted blanket or a book and take a break from the busy sights and sounds of the museum. An angled backrest will create a comfortable space for reading and rest. The ceiling of the hideaway will be covered with an array of LED lights that will slowly fade from color to color (soft red, purple, blue) to enhance the sense of peace in this cozy nook.