Thought#2: Science Centers are science museums that emphasize a hands-on-approach. So in conclusion, science centers belong on this blog.
The above is a note for myself, since I sometimes get confused as to what belongs on this blog and what needs to be amended, so that it can belong. Continuing on in Seattle, my friend and I revisited the Seattle Center to see…
Pacific Science Center, located in Seattle, Washington
The Pacific Science Center (or PSC, as I shall call it) is also located within the Seattle Center, so it would make a lot of sense to visit if you planned to see the other attractions in the area, instead of making a trip back to visit, as my friend and I did. (More on why the return trip in a bit.) Admission for the exhibits only is $19.50, and for the IMAX film is either $9 for regular IMAX or $14.75 for special engagement. If you buy the special combo for admission and the IMAX film, the total will either be $23.50 or $27.75, respectively. I had the Seattle CityPass, which provided admissions and the regular IMAX film, so I’m not sure what the special engagement IMAX film is. According to the website currently, the PSC is opened from 10am to 5pm on weekdays, and 10am to 6pm on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. When I visited Seattle in May, I attempted to visit the PSC on a Tuesday, but during that time, it was not open on Tuesdays. Therefore my friend and I had to revisit on another day to purposely see the PSC, which was okay, as I wasn’t feeling 100 percent the first time I attempted to visit.
The main entrance area of the Pacific Science Center is really big and quite nice, they even have a fountain-like area with dinosaur sculptures. It’s rather befitting that the first exhibit we saw was about dinosaurs, as we have already met at the entrance. The PSC dinosaur exhibit, Dinosaurs: A Journey Through Time, felt somewhat amateurish because of the plastic looking dinosaurs. A lot (and I mean a majority) of the exhibit consisted of these plastic, colorful, toy-like dinosaur displays, which I assume is to appeal to the children, however they detract from the validity of the exhibit because it feels as if I walked into a fancy toy store. Another factor that peeved me was that the exhibit was so basic and bare-boned that most of the information on display can be found on some encyclopedia website. I feel that I didn’t learn anything new from this exhibit, and that dinosaurs aren’t the best topics for interactive exhibits as there isn’t much we can interact with to retain the information presented.
The PSC has a planetarium, too, but I didn’t get a chance to see what was inside or if there’s a fee because there was a crowd of preteens gathering around (and I’m not a fan of preteens). Directly in front of the planetarium is the Science On A Sphere exhibit, which details the science related to the planets. The displays are kind of sparse, but they did their jobs well enough to let the visitors interact and understand the science. The most memorable item in this exhibit is a scale that tells you how much you weigh on each of the planets. Don’t be weight conscious, just step on the scale, and you will see a number you like.
The PSC makes efficient use of its space with a variety of smaller exhibits; one area of the center consists of four different exhibits that may be excluded in other science centers because they are small. These four exhibits are Sound Atmosphere, Just For Tots, Pudget Sound Model and Saltwater Tide Pool, and Portal to Current Research. Sound Atmosphere, a poster sized wall exhibit, displays the changes of CO2 levels in real time, transmitted by a device atop the Space Needle. Just For Tots is exactly as it sounds, a play area for the toddlers. (I didn’t go near as I have no toddlers, and didn’t want to seem like a creeper, but I did take a photo though.) Pudget Sound Model is a 100 square foot scale model of the sound, and at the Saltwater Tide Pool, one can see and touch the animals living in Pudget Sound. Portal to Current Research is another exhibit where the name is self explanatory; the exhibit displays current research. This exhibit changes semi-annually, thus when I visited, I saw research regarding sea ice, called Investigating Arctic Ice Melt. It was very informative.
Professor Wellbody’s Academy of Health and Wellness is a well thought out and fun interactive exhibit that I really enjoyed. The exhibit contains four distinct areas, sleep, eat, wash, and exercise, which are all factors required to maintain a healthy being. Through the engaging hands-on activities, I became more aware of how to be healthy and how to prevent myself from passing germs to others . For example, the exhibit contains a sneeze wall, which demonstrates how far a sneeze actually travels, using water misters, thereby explains the importance of proper sneeze etiquette (and how far you should stand away from someone who just openly sneezes).
Insects are somehow very popular at museums because there is always an insect exhibit. The PSC has an Insect Village and Naked Mole Rat exhibit. The Insecta Sideshow that is within the Insect Village is a very cute concept (I don’t like insects, but the idea is good). Playing on the idea of sideshows, it displays the various odd things that insects can do, some you may know, and some you may not. The rest of the Insect Village is the very typical insect exhibit, with various display tanks of insects. The Naked Mole Rat exhibit consisted of one display tank filled with the creatures; it is not very memorable for me. In addition to the Insect Village, there is also a Tropical Butterfly House. Like the insect exhibit, butterfly houses are quite popular, too, but there is usually an additional charge. However, at the PSC, it’s included in the admission, so my friend and I got to enjoy the butterflies.
The next exhibit we visited was the Body Works exhibit, which shows how the bodies work. It was another fun interactive exhibit, where you can test how fast your reaction time is, and how flexible you are. The Body Works exhibit is connected to the Science Playground, where you can interact with plenty of physics related items. For example, they have a pulley system where you lift items several times your weight, a display on electric motors, and more.
Somewhere along the way, my friend and I went to see the IMAX film that was included in our ticket. The film we saw was called Island of Lemurs: Madagascar 3D. I don’t quite remember the film, but according to my flyer, it is about Dr. Patricia C. Wright’s mission to help the lemurs that are in Madagascar. There is also another featured exhibit entitled, Spy: The Secret World of Espionage, however, there is a fee, so we didn’t go see it. The featured exhibits are rotating, so it will most likely be something different now.
We spent about 3 hours at the Pacific Science Center, and that seems to fall within the normal time range for me. I probably could’ve spend another hour or so, if I took a peek in the planetarium, and spent a bit more time at some of the displays (I’m pretty sure, I breezed through a few). The PSC had a decent amount of people the day I visited, mostly school age children, who were probably on school trips. It is a fun and informative place to visit, not just for children, but for people of all ages. So bring your kids, bring your friends, or just bring yourself, and have fun learning about science at the Pacific Science Center.