Rainy Day? Explain it by taking your kids to Loudoun Waters FREE childrens museum!

August 2013 has not been very Augusty… April like weather, with a LOT of rain.  Jimmy has been asking lots of questions like “Who is making the rain come down?” and “Where does rain come from?” He has a book on the water cycle, and we’ve explained it a billion times, but he still wanted to know who, exactly, was making the rain.  Then an idea popped into my head.. of course!  The Loudoun Water plant has a childrens exhibit, best of all, its free!  I visited once before he was born, and remembered a lot of interesting, hands on fun for kids.  So on a rainy afternoon, I packed him into the car and off we went.

First, we said hi to all of the beautiful fishies.  The 2 fish tanks at the museum are filled with ‘reclaimed’ water; as are the faucets and toilets in the facility.

Hi Fishies!

 For older kids and adults, there is a large exhibit on the first floor that explains the entire process of reclaiming and cleaning Loudouns water supply.  Jimmy enjoyed the model Loudoun Water facility, which shows the potomac river, aquaries, and all of the cleaning and processing facilities.  He also loved the “Whats under the ground” display, which showed cross-sections of all of the different pipes buried in our ground; electric, phone; cable; sewage (it was a nice ‘pee pee’ yellow color haha, reclaimed water, fresh water, and a few others.  He, of course, liked the ‘pee pee’ water the best.  Wonderful side note; after that exhibit,  he was practically begging me to go to the potty!

You can see the model (circular object in background, and part of the large display, in the background. 

Upstairs, kids can explore a home, stripped to show the water pipes and appliances in the home.  Again, the potty was his favorite.  He followed the pipe from the potty all the way out to the sewer line.

“i can’t believe we’re talking about pottys so much today.  Mom made me point to the potty, so here it is!”

 The largest display, upstairs, follows the water from its first entrance to the facility from a sewer line, all the way to nice, fresh, potable water (ending with a fish tank).  Each step has interactive visual displays, buttons, and demonstrations of the filtration processess, which the kids can spin.  In this picture, he is pushing the ‘grit cleanser’ button for the 40th time.  It shows how rocks and debris are literally spun out of the water.  I think the staff was getting annoyed, because it sounds like a dirt devil on steroids.

“VROOOOOOOOOM!!!” 
My favorite exhibit teaches kids about how THEY and corporations use water in their daily lives.  There is a game where kids can guesss things like “How many gallons of water does it take to grow beans for one cup of coffee? (35), or how many gallons of water does it take to produce one car? (32,000!).  There are flaps they can lift.  He liked the coffee cup the best.  Shocking…. my husband only drinks 3 cups a day.  I think I’m raising a coffee fiend.   There is also an educational exhibit on dangerous chemicals (bleach, paint, cleaners, ect.), and exactly what happens when you pour them down the drain..  Basically, the plant can only do so much, and things like this can’t really be removed from the water supply.  So before you clean your potty with bleach, imagine drinking it again in a few minutes.  Blech!
Last of all, there was a wonderful video on the water cycle, and how water affects different climates (from rain forest to desert).  There, of course, was a big fat button on the wall to start the video, so we watched it 4 times.   Jimmy LOVED it.  I was surprised and happy he was so interested!  Here is me proud of my little scientist, enthralled with the water cycle knowledge he was absorbing. 
Jimmy totally into learning about rain, clouds, dirt, and deserts. 
Here’s a screenshot of one of the film:

There is a huge indoor and outdoor picnic area, with vending machines as well.  So you can definitely pack a lunch.  Here’s my little guy enjoying a Rice Krispie treat 🙂 
The best part of the day was that when we left, Jimmy asked “mommy, can you play a water song?’ (He often requests random songs on the radio.  I said “umm, sure!” and put on Pandora.  I almost crashed when “in the sea” came on.  The lyrics were about waves crashing in the Ocean.  One line was “I dreamed this song for you.”  Coincidence? Maybe, but it was a fabulous finishing touch to the outing.  
On the way home, we stopped at a local park (Ashburn/”Dinosaur” Park), for some real life water experience. We hiked and threw rocks in the stream.  Jimmy blew my mind by proudly explaining how the stream water would turn into clouds soon to make rain, and how all of the tree roots he was tripping over let the trees ‘drink’ water.  He wasn’t the only proud one 🙂  Well, until he jumped into the stream up to his knees, in some brand new sneakers.  Sigh.   You can take a 3 year old to a Water Museum, but you can’t make him think.  


Loudoun Water is located at 44865 Loudoun Water Way, Ashburn, VA 20146

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Elizabeth Christy

Elizabeth Christy is an author, writer, and IT professional living in Sterling VA. She lives with her husband James and 4 year old son, Jimmy. In addition to basic survival, Elizabeth enjoys reading, sewing, and nature. She also runs the nonprofit organization "Books and Bottles", which promotes reading to young children. (Facebook.com/booksandbottlesorg

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