On the second floor of the museum, kids can jump from exhibit to exhibit and watch ants in various ?scenarios.
Some ants are gathering food. Some are pushing their trash into piles.
Cameras placed inside the cases broadcast the ants’ activities on a monitor, providing an intimate look into their small lives.
Karen Jepson-Innes, associate executive director of Wonderlab, said Wonderlab benefits from live exhibits.
“The goal was to have a working exhibit that that people could observe,” Jepson-Innes said. “Visitors really love live animals.”
On a busy day, Jepson-Innes said 500 people might come through the lab. She estimated the lab attracts 86,000 guests per year.
Yesterday, the lab wasn’t crowded. Marketing Director Louise Schlesinger said that was normal for a ?weekday.
“It’s a Wednesday afternoon and kids are still in school,” Schlesinger said.
But the few kids who were there seemed to be having a blast.
Amy Ringer was there with her son and her ?daughter.
“This is our first time,” Ringer said. “They are really loving it.”
As she spoke, her son looked at some ants with a magnifying glass.
“Mom, I want a ?magnifying glass too,” her daughter said.
The exhibit also has interactive features. In one part, children can dig through rocks for hidden surprises. In another, kids use a pulley system to learn how much an ant can lift.
Wonderlab is a nonprofit organization that began as a network of traveling ?volunteers.
In 1998, the group opened a temporary museum before establishing a permanent one on Fourth Street.
The lab continues to benefit from the generosity of its volunteers.
The aproned helpers supervise the exhibits and play areas, sometimes playing with the kids.
Some of the volunteers are practically kids ?themselves.
Eighth-grader Hayden Pope said he had been volunteering since he was in sixth grade.
“When there’s people here, it’s fun,” Pope said. “It’s fun to interact with ?the kids.”
Adam Miller is a freshman studying biochemistry at IU. He said that sometimes his educational experiences help him with ?the job.
“Mostly, I do demonstrations,” Miller said. He pointed to a machine on the first floor. “I knew how to explain that one because I knew ?science.”
Parts of the exhibit are temporary. But the live ant exhibit won’t leaving anytime soon.
“This will stay around for a while,” Jepson-Innes said.