Are you a huge fan of science? Does learning about how things work get your creative mind flowing? Piano Man’s really taken to learning about science in school, such as learning the states of matter (solid, liquid, and gas), so we decided to take our boys to visit Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry. We spent about five hours at the museum, and we could have stayed for another five more. The experience was that good.Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Out little Linus is into anything vehicular. We’re talking about biplanes, jets, steam engine trains, diesels, automobiles, cement mixers, big rigs, garbage trucks…the list goes on and on. He’s the kind of kid who will stop in mid-motion and watch a plane pass by in the sky.
We witnessed a 1,400 mi track of trains work its way through a Chicago to Seattle cityscape at the Great Train Story exhibit. If Linus had his way, we would have stayed right there for five hours.
We had to say goodbye to the trains and check out Toymaker 3000: An Adventure in Automation. For $5, you can watch a spindle top toy being made right before your eyes. You can have your child’s name and date engraved on the spindle.
Place your face inside a tubular screen, and your face will appear on the face of this modern sculptural piece.
I don’t remember why they placed a rock climbing wall in the Toymaker 3000 exhibit, but the kids sure had fun.
Ball Density Sideshow
We watched and learned which balls (exercise ball, water balloon, soccer ball, golf ball) had greater density. This kid watched in utter amazement during the entire show. I can also confirm that Piano Man was watching attentively. Who would have guessed that a tiny golf ball with a small amount of density would bounce higher than any of the other balls? But if you read, “Get in the Game with Team Density: Using Sports Balls to Confront Students’ Naive Conceptions About Density,” published from The Science Teacher (April-May 2011), you and your child can learn more about density.A Visit to the Farm
The Farm Tech exhibit had so many larger than life machines. Now this was another Linus favorite. He’d probably give it a rating of four stars.
John Deere Tractor
The Idea Factory
While LEGOLAND Discovery Center in Chicago restricted the Master Build Academy to children over the ages of 7, the Idea Factory limited the age to families with children 10 years of age and under, which was perfect for us!
Linus must have pulled that water tornado lever 10 times before we enticed him to another part of the Idea Factory.
We learned quite a lot at the Science Storms exhibit, such as how waves are formed, what makes a tornado spin, and why does a lightning strike? If you’ve ever wanted to know how a tornado is formed, this exhibit is the one to see. Kids could stand in a simulated tornado at the end of the presentation.
IMAX Movies & Inside the Pioneer Zephyr
After a very unhealthy lunch at the museum, we enjoyed an IMAX screening of Flight of the Butterflies. In a five-story dome, wrap-around theater, we watched the migration patterns of the monarch butterflies from North America to a remote area in Mexico. Our kids fell asleep during the screening, but Prof and I enjoyed learning about a scientist’s dedicated research and lifelong dream to see where theses fantastic creatures made their final destination home.
We ended our visit with a tour of the Pioneer Zephyr.
The Zephyr transported people, cargo, and animals, such as this mechanical donkey.
Once we reached the end of the train, at the caboose, three unusual antiquated, mechanical mannequins took us back to the 1930s. The characters explained how people of wealth and privilege enjoyed the privacy and pampering of a train ride on the Zephyr. It took me a bit surprised at some of the language the female mannequin used, but the curators tried to stay true to the times of that period.
Although we never made it to the third floor, we can use our Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) member museum card to enter Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry again and again. Check your local museum to see if it’s part of the ASTC, and you can visit one of Chicago’s finest learning museums for free.
Until the next time, Chicago!
From my hometown to yours,
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