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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

At ARTech, children can enjoy experiential learning by creating with the rigamajig, a building kit consisting of wooden planks, wheels, pulleys, nuts, bolts and rope. (Credit: Children’s Museum of the Arts)

When your children think about art, do they imagine standing in a museum, staring at a portrait that pre-dates cameras (let alone selfies)? Now more than ever, the forms that art takes and the media used to create it are seemingly endless. Why not seize an opportunity to teach our children how many ways there are for us to express ourselves (most of which have nothing to do with emojis)?

ARTech: Adventures in Art and Technology is a limited-time pop-up activity center in Manhattan that allows children (and adults) a chance to engage in various aspects of STEAM—Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. Hosted by the Meatpacking Business Improvement District and programmed by the Children’s Museum of the Arts and the New York Hall of Science, ARTech encourages visitors to explore the infinite ways that art and technology can merge. The exhibit is free, but hour-long time slots must be reserved online in advance. It is open on Wednesdays and Thursdays as well as weekends through the end of April. (If your weekends are already packed, this could be a great outing to put on your calendar for chol hamoed!)

The variety of activities and installations at ARTech will appeal to right-brained and left-brained visitors alike. Children can try their hand at the rigamajig, a building kit consisting of wooden planks, wheels, pulleys, nuts, bolts and rope designed to encourage children to create by thinking three-dimensionally and working collaboratively. Children who feel “the need for speed” can visit the Velocity Area and explore the difference between speed and velocity. After creating their own vehicles, participants can race them down a variety of brightly colored ramps, and observe the factors that impact a vehicle’s speed. There is also a GIF-making station, in partnership with the company GIPHY, where families can learn the simple technology behind the animated GIFs that pervade social media. Families will learn how to animate themselves, and leave with short GIFS to use in online albums and social media posts. You can learn about the other activities and exhibits, as well as reserve a time slot, at www.artech.splashthat.com.

If you’re looking to introduce your children to more traditional art forms, New Jersey Ballet’s Cinderella is a great place to start. This popular production will be at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown this Sunday, March 19 at 3 p.m., and will be at the Bergen PAC on Sunday, May 7, with performances at 1 and 3 p.m. The classic fairy tale is brought to life with all of the sets and costumes that you would expect from a professional ballet, but with the addition of New Jersey Ballet’s original “storyteller” narration to enable audience members of all ages to follow the story. For over 50 years, New Jersey Ballet has brought its quality performances to audiences throughout the state, at a fraction of the price of seeing a show in Manhattan. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.njballet.org.

By Rachel Jager