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June 10, 2010

Museum of Science and Industry

Yesterday we went back to the Museum of Science and Industry. We visited them back in January. Yesterday was another FREE DAY for the Museum of Science and Industry. (Free days are good things).

Yesterday's day was spent mostly at Museum of Science and Industry new exhibit: Science Storms. They had so much to do and see in this 2 story exhibit alone that it took most of our day. We did happen to go through the coal mine again and made it to Fast Forward. However, as I said most of our day was spent in the Science Storm Area.

In the Science Strom exhibit we participated in two free live science experiences/classes. The first was Atom Party. We learned how atoms combine to form new things. With some picture cards of the different elements the teachers made hydrochloric acid. They then asked where could we find hydrochloric acid? There was a school/camp group of about 8 children 7-10 age range in the room with 2 adults, myself, my friend, and our combine 5 children ranging in ages from 13-2. The only one in the room that raised their hand was Superstar. He replied with stomach. (The correct answer).

After this demonstration they took us out to the main exhibit area and showed us this very cool interactive exhibit. You place what look to be hockey pucks on specific elements in the periodic table.

The puck then became that specific element then you could slide it over to the empty area of the table. You could "combine" elements (hockey pucks) on the table and then the table would show you what you made. For example if you place 2 hydrogen atoms together with one oxygen atom. The table would show you that you made H20 and show you a picture of water.

Later in the day, on the way home we, my friend and I, discussed our visit. One of the things that came up was how Superstar knew the answer regarding hydrochloric acid. I shared with her how I was personally SHOCKED that he new the answer and was wondering where did he learned that. With that she laughed and said good, because here I was thinking. Oh great we never covered anything like that and here it is your child knows the answer and my 13 year-old doesn't. It's funny how something as innocent as answering a question can make you question your "schooling".

I didn't have my camera yesterday, but I was able to take a handful of select pictures with my phone. For the second FREE class in the Science Storm Exhibit Area we participated in a demonstration on liquid nitrogen. Superstar was chosen to help in that demonstration.

The museum staff, prior to the demonstration had frozen several balloons in liquid nitrogen. Superstar's task was to remove the balloons from the liquid nitrogen. As you can see he is wearing protective gear on his hands and is using a tongs to remove the balloons from the liquid nitrogen.

When he first removed them they were all flat but as they warmed up they began to expanded. It was pretty cool to watch.  In this free lab-live science experience class we also made ice cream to EAT with the liquid nitrogen.

For those of you that wonder if that's safe? Well I can tell you if you have ever eaten dippin dots then you have eaten liquid nitrogen.  We also learned that liquid nitrogen itself is cheap to buy and purchase it's the special containers that hold the liquid nitrogen that is expensive.

We also were able to dissect a cows eye yesterday. Again this was one of the FREE classes included in general admission. (A FREE day is general admission).

It was  a real cows eye! Superstar had his own eye and Web-princess and I shared an eye. At first Superstar was a little squeamish, but after a few moments that pass. They also showed us a pigs brain that still had the eyes attached via the optic nerve. I was able to get a picture of the kids with this pigs brain.

The Staff member is holding the brain and those ball like things hanging below it are the pigs eyes and the long strings connecting the brain to the eyes are the optic nerves. Again these were taken with my phone so the picture is not the best picture. So that was our day yesterday!

FOR ILLINOIS HOMESCHOOLERS: We also learned yesterday that individual homeschool families from IL with less then 15 students can receive free general admission to the museum Monday through Friday except during holiday periods. You just have to tell the desk your homeschoolers and fill out the paper work. This means that homeschoolers do NOT have to wait for those FREE days! Any day Mon-Friday can be a FREE day for you (if you are an Illinois homeschooler!!) Groups or families with more then 15 children have to call ahead and make reservations. See museums policy for more details.

My friend and I discussed perhaps going at least once a month to the museum and the possibility of building a science curriculum around the museum exhibits. For example spend the month discussing storms, atoms, elements, etc. Then spending the day in the Science Storms Exhibit Area.  Even if we don't go as far as building a curriculum around the museum exhibits it still we be cool to go once a month, seeing we can pretty much make up our own free days. We have the feeling the museum would be less crowded if we got in free on a non-schedule-free day, thus we would be able to spend more time doing things like the interactive element table without fear of prohibiting someone else from participating.


  1. wow. sounds as though they have some very interesting hands on exhibits. and great deals and discounts. thanks for the tip.

  2. Yes they do. I know your little one is smaller then my kids, but they Idea Factory Exhibit that includes things like water play that littler ones like your daughter find enjoyable as well!

    You STILL have to pay for parking, but it's still worth the trip!


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