At Marbles Kids Museum in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, kids of all ages embark on learning adventures through hands-on, minds-on PLAY. Marbles IMAX Theatre plays a unique role in those adventures, especially for the more than 12,000 4th-8th grade students who participate in a Marbles IMAX Learning Lab field trip (Learning Labs) each year.

In 2008, Marbles developed Learning Labs to give school groups an opportunity to make deeper curriculum connections to their super-sensory IMAX movie experience. Learning Labs provide students with challenge, choice, and custom activities connected to the North Carolina Standard Course of Study. Students rotate through a variety of independent and chaperone-facilitated activities that tap into a range of learning styles, interests, and skills. 

In 2016, Marbles identified an opportunity to make even deeper connections with field trip curriculum and began a summer-long revamp of the Learning Lab program. Historically, Marbles IMAX Learning Labs were developed to build on content specific to a particular movie. But, as Team Marbles continued to see trends in movie content, an idea sparked to develop Learning Labs geared toward a particular area of study (see image below; click here for a PDF version).

By the fall 2016 field trip season, educators were wowed not only by movies that educate and entertain but also by Learning Labs intentionally designed to build knowledge beyond the concepts introduced in the movie. Marbles customized activity props and graphics to create an even more immersive Learning Lab experience, and thanks to support from the Cannon Foundation, upgraded Learning Lab audio/visual elements to add a professional element to the Learning Lab presentation.

Educator feedback about the revamp has been overwhelmingly positive, and the new and improved programming has helped Marbles deliver on its organizational goals to introduce new ideas in play, respond to community needs and interests, incorporate guest feedback, and experiment with innovations in technology and design.

For more info on the Learning Lab program at Marbles Kids Museum, contact Hardin Engelhardt at

Submitted by Taylor Rankin, Senior Marketing & Communications Specialist at Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh, North Carolina.