Going to a museum is a great way to learn about yourself and the world around you. Many museums adhere to a “look, but don’t touch” policy, but a special few invite a more interactive approach to education. The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is one such museum that believes learning should be an immersive experience. Designed to spark creativity and curiosity, the museum is home to over 400,000 square feet of hands-on exhibits. It’s one of the largest science museums in the world, so getting turned around amid all the wonderful exhibits can be quite easy. This guide to some of the best exhibits at the Museum of Science and Industry will ensure you never miss a moment of fun and excitement.
By far, one of the most visually stunning exhibits at the Museum of Science and Industry is Science Storms. This exhibit pays homage to Mother Nature and invites visitors to stir up their very own storms. You can whip up a whirlwind tornado, summon a severe tsunami, or assemble an all-powerful avalanche. If extreme storms aren’t quite your forte, you can also slow things down and experiment with sunlight at the Newton’s Prism station. This station allows you to create brilliant 30-foot rainbows by simply rotating a mirror. You can even experiment on a microscopic level as you create a virtual chemical reaction using elements of the periodic table or arrange a dazzling dance of atoms using only ferrofluid and magnets.
The Museum of Science and Industry sheds light not only on the great wonders of the world, but also on the smaller wonders inside your own body. You! The Experience brings the focus inward and highlights all the little things that make you you. This exhibit traces human life from the first stages of pregnancy through the many changes your body undergoes as you grow. Put your brain and brawn to the test in this exhibit as you explore the inner workings of your body. Get your body moving on the human hamster wheel, or trace your movements on the big screen at the Get in the Action station. You can even challenge your friends to a battle of wits at the Mindball station. You and your partner don a mechanized headband and attempt to push a ball across a table by simply calming your mind. Only the most composed individuals will come out on top.
All the exhibits at the Museum of Science and Industry are extremely hands-on, but the Idea Factory exhibit takes the cake as the most immersive and interactive exhibit of all. This exhibit may be designed for kids 10 and under, but children and adults of all ages can find something to pique their interest. Young scientists can experiment to their heart’s content using a variety of different mediums and mechanisms. Splash and play as you learn about molecules and the water cycle, or build your very own metropolis with blocks and balls. There’s even a special area for toddlers and crawlers to put their science skills to the test.
The exhibits at the Museum of Science and Industry are designed to replicate various settings around the world and incorporate all five senses in an attempt to make the experience as realistic as possible. The Coal Mine is one such exhibit that effortlessly transports visitors to an entirely different world. Visitors travel down an elevator into a “working” coal mine, where they can get in on the action and experience life as a coal miner in the early 1900s. This exhibit features the relocated Old Ben No. 17, a real mine that operated in southern Illinois from 1902 until 1923. Just like a real mine, this exhibit is quite dark and can be rather loud, so be sure to steel yourself and your kids before descending down the mine shaft.
The Museum of Science and Industry isn’t just home to a plethora of intriguing exhibits; it also houses a state-of-the-art projection system. The Giant Dome Theater is five stories tall, enveloping visitors in the world of cinematography through a wraparound screen. The theater shows a variety of documentary films, each relating to a different area of science. Films rotate out on a regular basis, with new and exciting films gracing the screen all the time. Some of the current films include Superpower Dogs, Ancient Caves, and Canada’s Great Bear Rainforest.
No trip to the Museum of Science and Industry would be complete without a visit to the Whispering Gallery. This stand-alone exhibit invites visitors to engage in secretive conversations across the room from one another. The secret to this fantastic phenomena is the gallery’s unique ellipsoid shape. The architecture allows sound waves to bounce off the walls in such a way that enables even quiet whispers to be heard from across the room. Put your voice to the test as you experiment with sound waves in this seemingly simple yet entrancingly intricate exhibit.
Most exhibits attempt to explain the intricacies of the universe as accurately as possible, but some elect to blur the line between fact and science fiction instead. Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle is an elaborately constructed dollhouse that allows visitors an inside look into the lives of Fae royalty. The inhabitants of the castle are left to your imagination, but all other aspects of the exhibit have been constructed with stunning realism. The castle is furnished with a myriad of miniature features, from square-inch books signed by history’s greatest artists to clawfoot bathtubs and a miniscule bearskin rug. The castle’s chapel even boasts beautiful floor-to-ceiling stained glass windows.
Before rounding out your trip to the Museum of Science and Industry, be sure to stop by the baby chick hatchery to learn all about genetics. The hatchery is home to several different flocks of chicks, many of which belong to rare chicken breeds. In this exhibit, visitors can explore how the tiniest genetic variations can make a big difference in an individual’s traits and appearance.
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