BELDING, Mich. — Many of us know the city of Belding was once world renound for silk mills. They had female dormitories that housed hundreds of workers during the early turn of the century. Unfortunately, all have been driven out of business, which is simply a sign of the times as things became automated.
One of those dormitories called the Bel-Rockton, has been transformed in a three-story museum. Within the Bel-Rockton, now lies a complete children’s museum with hands-on exhibits for kids of almost every age.
The Belding Children’s Museum, inside the Bel-Rockton, was completed in 2012 and already 2,400 people have come through. Called the B E L for Belding Exploration Lab, this free (donations are accepted) hands-on museum and playground is fantastic especially for K-6 grade.
The first room we visited was the Flat Room…named for the Flat River that runs through town. It was put together to focus and highlight everything that’s on the Flat River people would see as they travel by boat through Belding. That includes fishing, sand, and animal furs.
One of the more popular play rooms, called Up Up and Away, is all about the history of air flight. In fact, there’s a real Cessna aircraft in the room with a simulator where kids can get inside and pretend they’re taking off and landing from a local airport.
It’s on to the Michigan Apple Room afterwards where kids can learn about the seasons of apples, whiz down a slide, and place apples on a conveyor belt and crank them up to the top.
A dark room laser pen is also available for kids to write in laser ink or design something fun in seconds. Sound tubes made out of PVC piping have also been placed in the hallways of the Children’s Museum so kids can take and listen at opposite ends to see how sound travels over distance.
Another room known as the Dig It room offers kids the chance to dig in real sand to find sharks teeth, mammoth teeth, and various animal bones. You’ll find dinosaur figurines, real bones from a mastodon, and special stone from Petosky, Michigan. Kids can pedal fast to generate electricity on a bicycle, churn butter with an old-time machine, or learn all about leverage with weights and pulleys.
If that wasn’t enough, you’ll find a real broadcast radio booth, old telephones that kids can play with, and an Indian wig wam with cooking utensils, Indian arrowheads, a covered wagon, and original Lincoln Logs available for construction.
To get more information on the Belding B E L Children’s Museum, arrange a tour, or take your class to visit, click here for more information. They can be reached at 616 794-2407 and/or 616 794-0924. Click here for their Facebook page.