Donate to support PPHS at Children’s Museum of South Bend


  Prototype of one of the Wind Tunnel exhibit by Beau Brasseur and Mary Behrens


As Covid was changing the ways of our world, something in our city of South Bend changed for good too- against the backdrop of shutdowns, masking, 6-feet distance guidelines, and virtual gatherings we got our own Children’s Museum.  Emilie Utigard is the founder of the Children’s Museum of South Bend and she says, “What started as a response to great personal tragedy has evolved into our love letter to the children of South Bend.” Emilie and her husband Mark suffered an irreparable loss when they lost their young son Finn Sebastian Golitko, very suddenly in 2018 to a viral infection. Finn’s love for museums and interactive exhibits prompted her to get together with other parents and educators to bring a STEAM-based children’s museum to South Bend. The children’s museum has prodded her to engage with Finn in new ways; the place is a dedication to Finn and to all the young curious creative little children and their families in and around the city of South Bend. 

The creators of the museum are true Design Thinkers. As UX designers, they launched the museum as a MVS (Minimum Viable Service)– in the spring of 2020 as they launched phase 1. During this first phase of the three, they offer activities and programming to children in a small, store-front location. Through this phase, they want to be able to foster partnerships with local community groups and prove their viability to potential stakeholders. And we at Purdue Polytechnic High School, South Bend were able to foster this relationship with them by working on a project to design weather-related exhibits for them. They opened their space to us. We had access to their space and the personnel over the span of 9 weeks. The project began with an introductory visit to set the stage, a letter of intent, and a live video call with Shannon Garvey, President of the Board of Directors of the Children’s Museum. During the project, we took 2 field trips (pictures below) and had access to the people there via email and phone. It was great to engage with the exhibits- relive our childhood, make observations, and ask questions; it helped us develop strong empathy for our users who are younger learners in the 1-7 years of age group. The project was designed to provide the museum with exhibits that they are able to use making it more real than any partner engagement we have had in the past. The museum checked in every week, eager to hear about the progress of each group, and provide the students with very real feedback. Natural disasters, dressing appropriately, and weather simulations were a few of the exhibit aspects that were proposed.

Pictures: Visit to the Museum

If we had more time and resources, we would have loved to actually build some of these exhibits and not leave them with our low fidelity prototypes made with cardboard. One idea presented to the museum was that of a wind tunnel (pictures of the prototype attached) which can help the students learn about wind and its relationship with direction. We came across this compelling piece (Wind Tunnel) created and sold by Kodo Kids (similar to one of our ideas) which we feel will enhance the experience and learning of children visiting the museum.

Watch the video to learn how it can promote engagement and learning.  Kodo Kids Wind Tunnel – STEM Learning in Action!

We want to help the Children’s Museum of South Bend get this in their premise and for which we are raising the funds. The kodo kids wind tunnel is priced at 499$ so for a donation as little or as big as you would like, you know you will be able to make a big difference.


While we are done with our project and have even earned the grades for it, this write-up is our commitment and a way to express our gratitude to the volunteers who work tirelessly to help reshape the Museum for the families and the kids here at South Bend. Rising above tragedy and countless trials, Emilie and her family, Shannon, and all the other museum personnel who willingly offer their time, energy, and their skills to create an expression of love for our posterity have created something which has the potential to grow into something world-class. 

Every great design begins with an even better story- We hope that you will support the Children’s Museum in its objective to serve, educate, and shape the youth for generations to come by donating and paying them a visit. Thank you to the team at the Children’s Museum of South Bend.