Family Picks

Staff WriterMarch 6, 2009 

With all the concern over childhood obesity these days, Marbles Kids Museum has a well-timed new exhibit that aims to build the connection between healthy eating and active play.

Power2Play opened last month and includes last summer's favorite Marbles attraction: Center Ice, the indoor synthetic ice rink where kids can skate on their socks and try and be the next Carolina Hurricanes hockey star.

But there are plenty of other ways to pass the time in this exhibit on Marbles' second floor. It's open until Aug. 23.

"The whole idea boils down to power in equals power out," says Pam Hartley, Marbles vice president for exhibits and core initiatives. "Good food you eat gives you the power to play."

Other stars of the exhibit include the garden wall, where kids appear to be climbing through the dirt under a vegetable garden.

There are three "zoom cycles," semi-recumbent kids bikes that are rigged to an overhead contraption. The bikes sit in front of a so-called power wall with a message that says that it's the good food you eat that gives you the energy and nutrients you need to power your muscles, bones and heart to get the cycles going or to be able to climb the wall or skate on the ice.

And, when I was there, the big line was in front of the peas and carrots pit. It's a ball pit where kids can roll around the green "peas" and look for the carrots.

"Part of that is introducing having fun with fruits, vegetables and whole grains," Hartley said. "It's a tasty, fun adventure in eating."

And I'm guessing the other part is having fun rolling around in all those balls. There is a smaller area for younger kids, who might get overwhelmed by the big kids.

Younger kids also will enjoy the small "café" where they can chop and serve wooden vegetables.

On your way out, be sure to pick up the Power2Play brochure featuring recipes, activities and games to encourage a healthy, active lifestyle at home.

It's a big month for Marbles. In addition to Power2Play, Marbles will feature a Wild Water Weekend on March 21 and 22. The event highlights two IMAX movies -- Under the Sea 3D and Wild Ocean 3D. Activities include games, crafts and other water-related activities.

sarah.lindenfeld@newsobserver.com or 919-829-8983

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