Gypsy Road Trip: The Works will spark your imagination

·4 min read

Let your imagination soar at The Works in Newark. Everyone will find something they enjoy, either in the world of science or the history of Newark. Winter is the perfect time to visit this indoor facility filled with experiments and fun.

The Works began in the early 1990s when Howard LeFevre and a group of citizens were searching for a way to preserve Licking County's rich industrial heritage. He wanted to use history to provide the foundation for educational programs.

The first exhibits were located in The Scheidler Machine Works, a business from 1882. However, it wasn't long before several additions were necessary and, before you know it, The Works Complex was created. It filled 6 acres and housed 11 buildings — an entire city block — located close to the courthouse in downtown Newark.

See a historical horse-drawn fire hose wagon.
See a historical horse-drawn fire hose wagon.

Today the complex is filled with fun and education.

On the first floor, there are simulated cars to drive and Legos to build and race. A multitude of craft supplies helps kids use their imaginations to make a piece of art they can take home. It's a great place if your child enjoys science, with many special labs for hands-on activities.

A glassblowing exhibit is a favorite of many. A well-supplied room with all the tools needed for blowing glass has adults and children oohing and aahing. Pre-register on certain dates to complete a glass project while visiting. In February, visitors can make a glass heart.

A glassblowing demonstration at The Works in Newark.
A glassblowing demonstration at The Works in Newark.

The second floor overflows with the history of the Newark area. Learn about glassmakers Heisey Glass and Corning Owens. See old telephones and typewriters as you explore replicas of local shops in the area over a century ago — previously at COSI's old home. Hear the story of Newark native Jerrie Mock, the first woman to fly solo around the world. There's an excellent display of canal history, as well.

A replica of The Spirit of Columbus becomes a flight simulator for visitors to experience.
A replica of The Spirit of Columbus becomes a flight simulator for visitors to experience.

Don't forget the Art Gallery featuring national and local artists in a variety of mediums. Gallery exhibits change quarterly to keep artwork fresh and exciting.

An amazing exhibit displays parts of a mastodon skeleton discovered in 1989 near Buckeye Lake, while digging for a new pond on Burning Tree Golf Course in Heath. It's called the Burning Tree Mastodon and is the most complete mastodon skeleton ever found. The skeleton is estimated to be 13,300 years old. The original sold in 1993 for $600,000 and now resides in Japan.

There are places to explore inside and out.

Outside there is an original interurban rail car open for touring or even a birthday party. If you enjoy music, try your hand at the outdoor pipe organ where you can perhaps create a tune of your own. The Works' mission is to enrich people's lives by providing interactive opportunities that inspire creativity and learning.

SciDome planetarium is a combined effort between The Works and The Ohio State University. A visit is included with your admission so you can enjoy a trip through the nighttime sky, a visit to the solar system or a journey to Mars. This 30 foot, 4K projection planetarium includes live planetarium shows as well as full-dome SciDome films. Programs vary so check the schedule before visiting.

The center also has a traveling program that goes to more than 14 counties providing professional training for area teachers. There is a heavy emphasis on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) as it is found in everyday life from measuring ingredients while cooking to launching rockets.

It's a great place for a school field trip to learn more about the history of the area as well as experience many hands-on science activities.

Youngsters learn about electricity in the Zap Lab.
Youngsters learn about electricity in the Zap Lab.

Children especially enjoy the downstairs section, while adults prefer the history on the second floor. Everyone enjoys having a lunch break at the deli, which is connected to the museum by a walkway.

The Works is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., which gives them access to many exhibits and resources not otherwise available. The museum is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday through March. Located at 55 S. First St. in downtown Newark, admission is $8 for children between the ages of 3 and 17, $12 for adults, and $10 for seniors 55 and over. There is free and convenient parking in their visitors' lot near the front door.

During these winter months, The Works makes a great family outing where there is something everyone would enjoy. Check their calendar of events on their website – It's the perfect place to spark your children's imagination.

This article originally appeared on The Daily Jeffersonian: The Works will spark your imagination