FreshPlans Goes to Science City

We love science museums and discovery centers! Whether it’s the stuffy old fashioned Museum of Natural History with stuffed creatures in glass cases or the hands-on kind, a science museum is always a pleasure. Science City is like a science playground.

Science City’s website — well, let’s just say they really need a new one! If you’re in the Kansas City area, book a field trip, and also look into the Battle of the Brains contest to develop a new exhibit for Science City. Not in KC? Enjoy our video and find a list of online science museums at the end of this post.

We started out in Melody Park, where there are all kinds of intriguing instruments, from keyboards to jump on to chimes you play by holding your hand above them. Kids mostly do random noise-making here, but you can play tunes and get a nice ensemble sound going if you have some musicians on hand. We think you’ll get more out of this exhibit if you learn a tiny bit about music and acoustics before you go — go through the Artsedge lessons on acoustics and sound, and then try out what you’ve learned in Melody Park.

The astronaut training center gives kids a chance to experience a space shuttle, from a flight simulator to a (nonworking) toilet. There’s a lot to see and do in this exhibit.

We went on to the Mister E Hotel, a wonderful little collection of illusions and visual perception games, and then to the Crime Lab, where kids can learn about forensics with hair samples under easy-view microscopes (try Learning Resources Quantum Big Screen Microscope for a similar experience in your classroom) and lots of cool retro data analysis tools. The Sky Bike, the Engineerium, and the Dino Dig Lab finished off our visit, but there are lots more fun places to check out. The whole exhibit is set up like a city — it reminded us of Sesame Street.

Science museums and discover centers suited to virtual field trips:

  • The Exploratorium, not only one of the most wonderful science field trips in the world, but also a great source of online adventures, lesson plans, and social media education challenges. Grab a copy of Explorabook: A Kids’ Science Museum in a Book  for your classroom, too.
  • Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry has been wowing visitors since 1933, and they have cool online experiences and worksheets to go with their exhibits.
  • London’s Science Museum has one of the best online resources. Give yourself plenty of time to explore before planning your virtual fieldtrip, and use the resources all year long.
  • The Science Museum of Minnesota has links to lots of wonderful interactive stuff — set it up as a computer center and let kids build soundscapes, learn about robotics, and otherwise safely explore science sites.
  • Boston’s Museum of Science has special virtual exhibits designed to be experienced online.
  • The Science Centre of Birr Castle doesn’t have the splashy interactive exhibits of the examples above, but we love the idea of the earls and their wives building giant telescopes in the stables, so we have to include it.
  • Cité des sciences in Paris has some of the best virtual visits, and we’re linking you to the English version of the site so you can find them.

Once your class has visited some science museums, why not set up a science museum in your classroom? Let kids decide what exhibits they want to create, possibly with inspiration from The Finest Fanciest Science Fair.

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