May 21, 2022–September 4, 2022
“Tally ho!” Springfield Museums is delighted to debut Nature Cat: Backyard and Beyond, May 21 through September 4, in the Springfield Science Museum. This hands-on, immersive, bilingual (Spanish and English) exhibit will encourage young children to explore the natural world!
A brand-new traveling exhibit, Nature Cat: Backyard and Beyond is based on the popular PBS animated kids’ series Nature Cat, created by WTTW Chicago Public Media and Spiffy Pictures, and has local media sponsorship by New England Public Media, which airs the show locally.
Nature Cat: Backyard and Beyond will inspire families and children to understand that nature discovery can happen anywhere—even in their own backyards.
All labels for the exhibit are offered in Spanish and in English.
Different areas of the Nature Cat exhibit will provide opportunities to learn about nature, use math skills to explore the natural world, use tools to investigate environments, and work and play together to create, explore, and accomplish tasks.
The exhibit will offer several distinct interactive learning experience areas featuring Nature Cat and his friends: Hal, the happy-go-lucky dog; Squeeks, the intrepid mouse; Daisy, the brainy bunny; and Nature Cat’s nemesis Ronald, the cat next door. Environments to explore include:
- The Backyard: A host of activity sitting just on the edge of the forest, the backyard includes Hal’s funky doghouse where visitors can take shelter from the rainy weather and learn how to “play it safe” while using counting skills to measure the time between thunder claps and lightning flashes. Outside, Daisy invites visitors to try their hand at planting a garden of vegetables and flowers in creative, recycled containers such as tires, soda bottles and even boots!
- The Marsh: Visitors can hop aboard Squeeks’s cousin Marvin’s raft, overlooking a “panoramic view” of a lush and thriving marsh. Kids can practice environmental stewardship by helping Marvin and his friends sort and clean up the trash polluting their homes, using the nearby recycling bins. Seen through telescopes around the Marsh, Ronald invites visitors to try out his slide, just a short climb up the hill, or solve jigsaw and slider puzzles.
- The Cave: Guests can join Hal in the search for Harold, his lost flying disc, and explore the world beneath the Earth’s surface. After putting on safety helmets, cave-explorers can trace the flow of water in and out of the cave and observe a variety of critters in the dim light—an eyeless salamander, bats overhead, and glow worms pulsing in a rhythmic light display.
- The Forest: Visitors are invited into an intimate space inside of a vibrant forest, where they can explore a hollowed-out den in the base of a large tree, crawl into a rotting log to discover the many creatures it plays home to and see a vernal pond at their feet.
Nature Cat airs on NEPM HD Saturdays at 9 am and Sundays at 8:30 am; on NEPM Kids Saturdays and Sundays at 1:30 pm and streaming at nepm.org. The series follows Fred (voiced by Saturday Night Live alum Taran Killam), a house cat who dreams of exploring the great outdoors. In each episode, once his family leaves for the day, Fred transforms into Nature Cat, “backyard explorer extraordinaire.” With the help of his animal friends, voiced by Saturday Night Live’s Kate McKinnon (Squeeks) and Bobby Moynihan (Hal); Sesame Street’s Chris Knowings (Ronald); and Kate Micucci (Daisy) of Scrubs and The Big Bang Theory, Nature Cat embarks on action-packed adventures full of nature investigation.
Nature Cat: Backyard and Beyond was developed by Kohl Children’s Museum in Glenview, Illinois in partnership with WTTW Chicago and Spiffy Pictures, with the support of the Hamill Family Foundation.