Eric Lagatta The Columbus Dispatch
Sep 20, 2018 at 4:00 AM
“Hot Wheels: Race to Win” makes its Columbus debut Saturday at COSI and will remain on display through Jan. 6. The exhibit allows families to learn about the science and engineering behind racing using the iconic model cars and orange tracks.
Just the sight of a miniature orange racetrack may be enough to conjure nostalgic memories in many.
Since Mattel introduced Hot Wheels in 1968, the die-cast model cars — paired, of course, with those iconic tracks — have been an integral part of the childhoods of many, young and old alike. Even Frederic Bertley, president and CEO of COSI Columbus, can‘t look at anything related to Hot Wheels without feeling a little sentimental.
“I love Hot Wheels,” Bertley said. “Those orange plastic tracks were the bane of my parents‘ existence, but I absolutely love them.”
It‘s why he‘s excited for an upcoming exhibit at the science museum that uses the toy cars and tracks to teach guests about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) principles. “Hot Wheels: Race to Win” makes its Columbus debut Saturday at COSI and will remain on display through Jan. 6.
Jointly produced by the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and Mattel, the exhibit serves to educate youngsters and their families about the science and engineering behind car and track design.
“It brings science and engineering to life in a really hands-on way,” Bertley said. “It’s literally a hands-on, immersive experience.”
COSI is the eighth venue to host the traveling exhibit, which debuted in 2015 and whose scheduled tour of five years has been extended an additional two years, said Sarah Myers, a project manager and staff member at the Indianapolis museum.
“One thing we definitely love about Hot Wheels and the brand is the multi-generational draw it has,” Myers said. “It’s not just the kids playing; it’s the whole family playing with it.”
The exhibit is split between four zones: design, power, speed and safety. Parents and their children can move from zone to zone to see and interact with authentic race gear and memorabilia that Cathy Hamaker, who developed the exhibit for the Indianapolis museum, obtained from Indy 500 racers.
Youngsters can also experiment with and learn about automotive performance using Hot Wheels cars and tracks as their tools. And, of course, there‘s a chance for them to race Hot Wheels on a downhill track.
“These kind of exhibits really tie in the fun and the playing aspect for both the kids and the adults,” Bertley said. “Parents have as much if not more fun than the kids.
“If you like cars, if you like sports and you like art and design, and you like having fun, then this is a good exhibition for everyone.”
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