Posted by: Rob T | December 4, 2009

Louisville Science Center, Part 2

Note – if you haven’t read Ticktock’s Part 1 to this, head on over there and read it now.

Beyond KidZone on this day, the rest of the first floor was occupied by a traveling exhibit about the Titanic called Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition.  We declined to go in, though, since we felt the little’uns wouldn’t have gotten much out of it, though the 8-year-old Little Skeptic Girl seemed a little disappointed.

But there was so much more to do…  That first floor is just the tip of the iceberg!

See what I did there?  Titanic…?  Iceberg…??  *sigh*  It was funnier in my head.  Where was I? Let’s see…

Louisville divides its museum into three sections, The World Within Us (our bodies), The World Around Us (nature), and The World We Create (technology).

The World Within Us includes exhibits all about the human body.  Probably the most amazing and eerie display is a collection of eight embryos at various stages of development.  They even warn parents that it might be creepy (my word, not theirs) for kids.  Our kids loved it, though.  It’s amazing to think that we all started out as a seemingly random jumble of matter.  Just outside of that display, they continue the story with newborns, and a display where they have simulated how babies see in the first several months of life.  For the first few months, we’re all just strange blurs with different voices speaking gibberish.

One interactive game allowed everyone to try their hand at driving drunk.  We weren’t all that good driving the simulator while sober, so when they started moving objects around and making the steering wheel less responsive, we didn’t have any hope!

The World Around Us teaches us about nature, and our ecosystem.  Lots of different local animals and bugs are on display, some in display cases, others in simulated habitats.  Some are even “underground” in a little cave that kids (or adults!) crawl through to find them.

In the Cave

An interactive demonstration of the water cycle uses small blue balls to represent water, which “rains” down from above the display, either flowing directly to a river, or flowing underground where the kids can pump it out and into the river.  Then, as water flows downstream, kids can control a dam and a floodwall to protect (or annihilate) the downriver city.  After passing the city, the water is conveyed back up overhead to start the cycle again.

Save the City? Or Flood It?

This section also includes an Egyptian mummy, who sadly has seen better days – in the Ohio River flood of 1937, she wound up floating down Main Street!

The World We Create is a celebration of the technology we employ to improve our world. Buildings, bridges, and other structures are exhibited. Kids can even build their own structures out of foam blocks, and then turn on an earthquake motion (or three) to see what types of buildings can withstand what types of earthquake motions.

The science museum stand-by, the catenary arch, is there in soft blocks for families to build together.  I never get tired of building that arch.  It’s just a great example of physics, that these pieces are held together by nothing more than friction and gravity, and completely support themselves.

Building the Catenary Arch

Kids can also use their own strength to power two pistons of an engine, and see if they can make their engine go faster than their opponent.  A Chemistry Kitchen (only certain times) demonstration allows kids to see some more cool science in action.  There’s even a Gemini trainer here for kids to hop into and pretend to be an astronaut.

Little Skeptic Girl in the Gemini Trainer

Like any good science museum, they’ve got an IMAX theater with shows for all different kinds of visitors.

But sometimes, though, with all the cool hands-on or high-tech exhibits, the most fun is finding yourself inside a bubble.

Little Skeptic Boy in a Bubble

There’s a lot more to see and do at the Louisville Science Center; I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface, but you should go check it out if you’re ever in the area! Any Louisville area folks who would like to join the Science Center with a membership should consider doing a dual membership with the Louisville Zoo.

..Rob T.

Louiville Science Center photo from merfam on Flickr, http://www.flickr.com/photos/merfam/174214284/

Cave, Flood, and Catenary Arch pictures are from http://www.hellolouisville.com/Articles/Attraction/100/Louisville_Science_Center_stop_by_for_some_serious_fun.Cfm

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