A new gallery designed to help children five and under develop their cognitive skills through play is in the works at Science World

Designed with guidance from experts at the University of British Columbia, Wonder will have areas where infants and caregivers can explore together. The areas will have names like crawl, experiment, shine, build and splash.

Dr. Vanessa Lapointe, a registered psychologist and parenting expert, recently spoke in glowing terms about the project, which she says will be the first of its kind in B.C.

"There is something for every single little one, from zero to five, that will really allow them to immerse in, and engage with, the material in the space that will be available," she says.

Dr. Vanessa Lapointe

Dr. Vanessa Lapointe says Science World's Wonder gallery will be the first of its kind in B.C. (CBC)

Children will not only be free to climb and build with blocks, they will also be able to bend and manipulate light in a sensory way. It is this open play that is led by children, not adults, that helps expand kids' minds, according to Lapointe.

"There's all sorts of data, for example, that is revealing to us that, as our access to play as humans has decreased, the incidence of mental health issues has increased," she says.

"We also know that when children are denied access to the world of play, and then you reopen access, you will see this rebound effect, where it comes back and they have, have to, have to have more of it — which shows us that it's a need."

Science World is currently fundraising for the Wonder gallery, which is set to open 2017.

To watch the interview with Gloria Macarenko from Our Vancouver, click here.