"We were sitting in my office and I just found my eyes going to all the circles around me," she said of a moment earlier this year. "It was like, `There is a circle and there is a circle.' "
At the time, Cifaldi-Morrill, the museum's director of exhibit design and delivery, was giving an overview of the exhibition to a colleague in anticipation of its arrival. As of Saturday, Sept. 28, the "Secrets of Circles" officially will be ensconced at the museum, along with its 18 interactive stations.
"There will be lots and lots of activities," said Cifaldi-Morrill. "It is a very hands-on exhibition."
This 2,000-square-foot exhibition, which will occupy the museum's gallery for traveling exhibitions through Jan. 5, was developed by the Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose (Calif.) several years ago and has since traveled around the country.
The content affords the visitors a chance to test their skills and comprehension of a number of disciplines, including math, science, engineering and art.
Cifaldi-Morrill, who had just set up part of the exhibition before the interview, was excited about what visitors would find once they walked through the doors.
"There is a gigantic wheel that is constantly spinning," she said, adding that it allows for some unique artistic creations.
Visitors can make circular shapes with a lathe. They can test the physics of a bumpy ride. They can make their own gears. And they can make their own glow-in-the-dark circles.
Through it all, they will be learning lessons in such subjects as geometry and physics, art and math.
Cifaldi-Morrill said the exhibition works very well with some of the new educational initiatives, such as the concept of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics), which integrates science and art education.
As she noted in a recent news release, circles are some of the first shapes very young children first learn to identify. As they get older, circles can help in the comprehension of scientific, technological, engineering and mathematical principles, and further, the arts.
With historical artifacts as part of the display, young people also can explore how circles have transcended time and cultures.
"I think it will be fun for the little ones," she added. "There also are many opportunities for role playing, which is important at that age."
However, given the ubiquitous nature of circles, Cifaldi-Morrill said she suspects this will be an exhibition that appeals to all ages. Make sure to come with questions. Organizers said queries such as why are circles everywhere and what makes them the best shape for pizza and car wheels, can be voiced, and hopefully answered, by spending some time in the gallery.
The exhibition also features a chance to test your language skills. The signs are in English, Spanish and Vietnamese, which reflects the community needs of the exhibition's originator. San Jose, Calif., boasts one of the largest Vietnamese-American populations in the United States.
"The intention of this (travel) gallery is to expose children and family to many different subjects," said Cifaldi-Morrill. "We want it to be educational and fun."
Christina.firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @xtinahennessy
Stepping Stones Museum for Children, 303 West Ave., Norwalk. Saturday, Sept. 28-Jan. 5. Tuesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (Open select Mondays, including Columbus Day and Veterans Day). $15 adults, children over 1; $10 seniors. 203-899-0606, steppingstonesmuseum.org.