Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Kentucky Science Center
Kentucky Science Center full of hands-on exhibits
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We only paused briefly at the first-floor exhibit “Science in Play,” where younger children and families were puzzling rather successfully with strange equipment and interactive activities.
The second floor featured an area where Wayne designed a bicycle for an imaginary company looking for a more marketable design. He combined several materials and features on a screen, aided by the screen guide, which then told him it was a moderately innovative design that could be put on the market.
Taking the opportunity to create a new design for a bicycle
Another interactive area allowed you to play with differently shaped plastic and wood pieces, stacking them into a tower on a platform. Pushing buttons, the structure is subjected to different levels of earthquake-like shaking. The goal was to build the tallest tower possible that could withstand a 10-second shaking, which we accomplished.
We next entered a booth meant to simulate a space capsule where a woman on the screen offered us a chance to go into space and study the effect pollutants have on the hole in the ozone layer. With a fire button on a joystick, we “flew” ourselves into space over Antarctica, where we could view the existing hole.
When the guide showed it to us as it had been 20 years ago, we got the message we might be in serious trouble, so, of course, we headed back to earth immediately to do something about it.
At a “body watch,” a cluster of life-size mannequins with TV sets in their stomachs allowed us to see what happens in the body under various conditions, including seeing a fetus in the womb, food being digested and the cause of hiccups.
In another room, the screen guide, which was proud of the Egyptian mummy and sarcophagus on display, gave an educational presentation on how it was found, almost destroyed by a heavy object falling on it and how it ended up in the museum.
The center also features a chemistry kitchen, which is geared to children, for a show on electricity and ways of creating electrical effects.
An overhead line featured 23 products made in Kentucky and visitors tried to name them with the answers eventually appearing on a board.
The third floor has a large space devoted to “The World Within Us,” a series of displays about how our bodies work, including an especially vivid section on reproduction. We were surprised, given the number of children we encountered, how few were studying the human body that day. It would be difficult and expensive for individual schools to have anything close to what science museums have available to explain these concepts to children, making it all the more advantageous that so many cities have made these facilities available.
The interactive displays received much attention from young people but large posters simply providing information about different aspects of science were often passed by, seeming to stress the importance of hands-on learning for children.
The center also has an IMAX theater where five movies were being shown.
We are fortunate to have two outstanding science museums in Missouri. The St. Louis Science Museum has been ranked No. 5 on the Parents Magazine top 10 list, and Kansas City Union Station has made their “best of the rest” list.
A display at the Kentucky Science Center in Louisville, Ky., shows a fetus developing in the womb.