Field Trip–A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village

We took a trip over to Salem last week to visit A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village, a Children’s Museum.  I had heard many of my friends rave about it. However, I was leary – as my boys are older, and do not really enjoy the “Children’s Museums” any more.

The plus side – is that purchasing a full pass to the Gilbert’s Discovery Village gives access to 273 Association of Science Technology Centers (ASTC) – which includes OMSI in Portland.  I’ll post the Oregon List at the bottom of this post.  Now that I’ve justified the visit – and we have nothing to loose by going – Let’s Venture Forth!

 Who Was A.C. Gilbert?

“After graduating from Yale with a degree in medicine and earning an Olympic gold medal in the pole vault, A.C. Gilbert created the Erector Set, an engineering toy that enabled a young child to build such items as Ferris wheels and bridges. He later marketed a variety of other educational toys ranging from American Flyer trains to Mysto Magic sets, chemistry and telegraph sets. With his toys, Gilbert hoped to combine fun with an understanding and appreciation of science. Gilbert realized that a child needed playthings that would encourage creative expression and satisfy a natural curiosity about the world.

A.C. Gilbert was born in Salem, Oregon, on February 15th, 1884. Today, his uncle’s Victorian home, the A.T. Gilbert House, is one of three structures that house our museum’s exhibits. A display of vintage Gilbert toys and inventions along with an exhibit chronicling his exciting life is located in the Parrish House. At the end of his life, A.C. Gilbert held 150 patents for his inventions. This creative genius that believed that “playing is essential to learning,” serves as a wonderful inspiration and namesake for our hands-on, interactive museum.” Copied from (Lots more History Here)


I took these for one of my reader friends. These are chalk boards, with water and paint brushes. You can copy the letters that you see around the room. I think her daughter would like it here.




Bubble Room! A favorite of the boys. There were two little guys in there playing in the water, not making many bubbles, when my two showed up and demonstrated all the gadgets around the room.  The little ones were in awe.  We kept hearing the grandparents say – like those big kids.   It is still kind of weird to be on the side of “mom to the big kids”.


We couldn’t get a bubble out of this one, but we got some great shapes. You pull the rod up and it will make a sheet of bubble. Fun.


We did get quite a few huge bubbles out of the hoola hoop.  Mom might have been having a good time too.


We wandered around the exhibit rooms, which were all really amazing – and out to the playground. The boys enjoyed each room and area.


This is part of the outdoor play area. You can climb up to the top inside and down a long tube slide. The boys wouldn’t go til I did it first. I kept screaming and thinking of spiders, mice and crocodiles. But I made it to the bottom finally. I think it is the longest slide I’ve ever been on and 90 percent of it is total darkness.


The wood was bleached white, it wasn’t snowy. It was actually rather warm. There are tunnels and outdoor music areas, voice tubes. It’s really a great play structure!


The Man Who Saved Christmas.  Woot!


They had a few electronic devices throughout the store. I thought this one was funny.



These rooms sparked the most conversation with the boys afterwards.  Seeing all of the simple hand made gadgets that became toys.  They were part of a White Elephant Exchange of toys that were made from the recycle bin this week.  The boys in the group really stepped up, each item was amazing!


Many people have a closeup photo of this girl statue with the house in the back. I wish I had taken more pictures of the elaborate rooms inside – but we were just having so much fun playing – we were almost the only ones there. Two other families.

This will be a fun place to go when we pass through Salem.  They hold a lot of great science activities on the weekends.  I look forward to using our pass around Oregon as well.

Here are the Oregon Science Centers of which our Pass will give us access: Woot!!

Association of Science Technology Centers (ASTC)

A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village
116 Marion Street NE, Salem 97301-3437
(503) 371-3631
F: Two adults and their children under the age of 18 living in the same household. Additional “guests” must pay regular admission.

Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum
500 NE Captain Michael King Smith Way, McMinnville 97128
(503) 434-4180
F: Two adults and children or grandchildren (ages 16 or under)

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
1945 SE Water Avenue, Portland 97214-3354
(503) 797-4000
F: Two adults and children under 21 living in the same household

Science Factory Children’s Museum & Planetarium
2300 Leo Harris Parkway, Eugene 97401
(541) 682-7888
F: Two adults and four children living in the same household

ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum
1500 East Main Street, Ashland 97520
(541) 482-6767
F: Parents/Guardians and all the children in their household under 18

Sunriver Nature Center & Observatory
57245 River Road, Sunriver 97707
(541) 593-4442
F: Two adults and children (18 and younger) residing in the same household. Free admission limited to nature center.

Univ. of Oregon Museum of Natural & Cultural History
1680 East 15th Avenue, Eugene 97403-1224
(541) 346-3024
F: Two adults and up to four youth (ages 3-18) admitted free

About +Angie Wright

The Transparent Thoughts of an Unschooling Family of Boys - Answering the question - What DO you DO all day?
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15 Responses to Field Trip–A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village

  1. Amber says:

    Well THAT looks like a lot of fun! Especially the big chess game. =)

    (Here from the hop!)

  2. I would like the bubble Room best, too!!! Hands On Science Museums are the BEST!

    (I’m back from my weekend in L.A.:

  3. Rebecca says:

    Dropping by from the Hip Homeschool Hop…that looks like a TON of fun! And…maybe you learned a little, too (hehehehehe). I would love to take a trip to these places. I love the way you broke it down…and your pics are fab!

  4. The giant chess set is awesome! My 13 year old would love that actually. 🙂

    Visiting from Hip Homeschool Hop. 🙂

  5. Makita says:

    We love it there! And yes … MeiLi enjoys the “China Room”. Your pictures are great! 🙂

  6. Tonya says:

    I’m a huge fan of reciprocal memberships- we’ve used our science center pass all over when we traveled. In fact, when we are on the road I always search through the list of reciprocal memberships to see where we can go for free or a reduced cost- I have it printed out and keep it in the van- you just never know where we’ll be. 🙂 Our membership even includes zoos for around $70 a year. Can’t beat it, especially now that my kids are teenagers and we have to pay adult prices for them!

  7. Looks like a lot of fun and learning! Love that you went first on the slide…way to go Mom!

    I think your pass would be good at Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding (very Northern CA) if you ever get down that way.

  8. Blossom says:

    Oh! Oh! I’ve been there! I’ve been there! I was looking through the photos and the rooms looked so familiar- and outside!
    Yep, yep- we’ve been there 🙂 My mother-in-law took my kids and I there when she lived in Salem.
    Oh, I miss Oregon…sigh 🙂

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