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Dream Factory, Kidzania

2012/02/18 | 460 views |  | Permalink | Source

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Children could take an early peek at what they might be doing by trying out the jobs of the future now (photo courtesy of Kidzania).

Shin Saimdang, a Korean artist, calligraphist, noted poet, and the mother of the Korean Confucian scholar Yulgok, is often held up as a wise mother. According to the historical record, she had never taken her children on an excursion for their education, but if she lived in contemporary Seoul, she would surely have taken her children to Kidzania. Kidzania is a theme park that provides a child-sized replica of a real city with buildings, shops, and theaters, as well as vehicles and pedestrians moving along its streets. In this city, children play out various jobs while also having fun through a variety programs that combine education and entertainment.

Since the opening of the first branch in Mexico City ten years ago, Kidzania has continued to expand and currently has eight parks operating in cities around the world. Since Kidzania Seoul opened in February 2010, it has logged over 750,000 visitors for an average of 2,400 people a day, a clear indication of its popularity. In January and February when school is out for the winter holidays, it is filled with curiously excited children. Although it is part of an international company, there are two exclusive activities in Kidzania Seoul; the Rice Cake House and the Home Shopping Company. Children can make rice cakes for themselves in the Rice Cake House while the Home Shopping Company offers them the opportunity to host and model. The Rice Cake House has been very popular with children since it allows them to experience Korean traditions like pounding grain with mortars and pestles, decorating them, and packing. Taking into account the modern high-tech world Korean children live in, there are also a variety of labs, including those for dairy, mobile phone design, automobile design, water and vitamins.

Team work and a sense of economy

Kidzania is a brand name as well as a theme park where youngsters can get hands-on experience in the jobs of the future (photo courtesy of Kidzania).

The portrayal of reality has been a big contributing factor to Kidzania's success. Rather than simply mimicking adult jobs that children may dream of, children can have hands-on experience with real broadcasting equipment and pizza grills, just to name two.

Parents have appreciated the benefits of role-play. Yoo Jae-kyeong, mother of a nine year-old boy, has visited Kidzania more than ten times. "Children learn about professions at Kidzania and have a dream", she said and added, "I'm really happy with the programs here because children get up to 30 minutes to achieve a sense of accomplishment and gain confidence by playing out each profession".

The job-experience facilities are exclusive to children and parents are not allowed inside. Parents can only look in from the outside through large windows. Children go about independently making decisions and figuring out their own way of dealing with a given situation. The job-experience programs also help children realize the importance of team work while carrying out certain missions with others and develop a mature sense of citizenship while waiting their turns. They learn the value of work and how the economy functions by earning, spending, saving or donating Kidzos, the Kidzania currency.

As mock job programs designed for children continue to draw attention, many similar programs have developed. The Youth Economic Education Foundation provides elementary school students from grades 4 to 6 with opportunities for on-site future job experience. Another is 'Dreamself' that targets kindergarteners. Dreamself introduces twelve careers, such as chef, diplomat, robot researcher, and police officer. It also offers activities designed to raise children s curiosity about various occupations such as writing lyrics and scoring them with musical instruments. An exhibition called 'Having Fun in the City of Cookies' offers children a glimpse into making cookies.

You can book in advance at its website (www.Kidzania.co.kr).

*Article from Korea Magazine (February 2012)

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