Local News

Children’s museum in Port Huron lands hands-on grocery store checkout display

Graphic courtesy of Science Kinetics. A graphic representation of the grocery checkout display slated for the children’s museum.

By Jim Bloch

When it opens, Port Huron’s Discovery City Children’s Museum will feature among its displays an interactive supermarket checkout counter.

At its regular meeting May 13, the city council unanimously approved the purchase of the display from sole bidder Science Kinetics, of Columbus, Ohio for $24,450.

“The Scanning Surface closely resembles that of a real grocery store counter to encourage an immersive experience,” said the manufacturer.

The 5.5 foot long display features touchscreen software and is constructed largely of HDPE, a durable high quality material. A hand-powered conveyer belt wheel allows kids to move the groceries along a 16-inch wide surface to the scanner and “adds to the fun,” according to the manufacturer. A basket shelf “encourages cooperation between bagger and shopper.” An order reset button allows participants easily to restart orders. There is a place to store shopping baskets below the counter. A convenient panel allows access to internal workings of the display, making maintenance easy. The checkout display stands nearly 42-inches high.

“This is part of the budgeted project going on over there,” said City Manager James Freed, as heard on the recording of the meeting posted on YouTube. “The children’s museum is looking absolutely amazing and terrific. It’s going to be probably one of the largest children’s museums in eastern Michigan. I’ve toured children’s museums all across the state with my two kids.”

Freed said the museum will be on par with or exceed the quality other children’s museums in Michigan. The recreation department hopes to have the museum open in September.

“The existing market and farmer’s stand were extremely popular exhibits when Discovery City was at the Carnegie Center,” said Freed in his memo to Mayor Pauline Repp and the council. “The proposed purchase is a more realistic checkout counter and upgrades this market building. The proposed checkout counter has a hand-crank moveable conveyor belt, working point-of-sale system, and scanning surface. The point-of-sale system has touchscreen software, customized scans, and allows for an easy print of barcodes for items for real-time scanning.”

The money for the purchase comes from American Rescue Plan Act funds made available to the city by St. Clair County.

The council voted 6-0 to approve the purchase; Mayor Repp was absent.

Jim Bloch is a freelance writer based in St. Clair, Michigan. Contact him at bloch.jim@gmail.com.

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