Thursday, October 20, 2011

I'm a Science Rock Star!

Really, I am.  I have a sticker to prove it too! 
I had the awesome opportunity to attend the Educator Open House at the Museum of Science + Industry Chicago.  Swanky!

I was able to pretty much do all the really, really cool stuff that I would love to do if I were there without my kids.  Seriously, look at this - I'M IN THE TORNADO VORTEX!
I was able to check out all of the really exciting programs that they offer.  Going with the mind-frame that I was there to seek out information for homeschooling made it even more fun.  Upon arriving we were divided into three separate lines according to our last names to check in and get our agendas for the evening.
Had I know how quick the ticketed events would fill, I would have planned out my evening a little more.  The two ticketed events were the Haunted Coal Mine and Dr. Seuss and the Art of Invention.  I went to the Dr. Seuss one first because I knew it was a new exhibit and thought that tickets would go fast there.  I was wrong.  By the time I got back to the Coal Mine all the tickets were gone.  Sad times I tell 'ya.
While I was waiting for my ticket time to roll around for the Dr. Seuss exhibit I partook in the delicious foods that were offered.  Oh My Goodness!!  The food absolutely blew my mind away.  From there I made my way to the Pumpkin Pyrotechnics demonstration which was really fun.  This is a special event that runs the month of October and is brought to you by the Center for the Advancement of Science Education: Guest Experiences.  I thought of Cody the whole time and how much he would have enjoyed it.  The coolest thing by far, in my opinion that is, that they did was spray the pumpkin with acetone and then set it on fire.  (hee, hee, hee - FIRE!)
The acetone burned but the pumpkin did not char.  Pretty neat!  Around the time they started pulling explosions I had to make my way to the Dr. Seuss exhibit.

They wouldn't let me take pictures, I got as far as here - which was right inside of the entrance
But, I did learn that there is the Art of Dr. Seuss - Unorthodox Taxidermy, and they had some of them on display.  I really like the Sawfish Sculpture, that one cracked me up.  As I made my way through the exhibit which chronicled  his work, everything from cartoons, drawings, editorial cartooning, paintings, advertising and sculptors were on display.  Then I came to the Oobleck!  I never knew such a thing existed.  I got to play with the very thing that ran amuck in Bartholomew and the Oobleck.  We are so making some of this stuff for a science experiment!  The hands on room, where the Oobleck was, was very kids friendly and looked like a lot of run.  There were puzzles, props from How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the movie), and a giant mad-lib like thing.  Did you know that Dr. Seuss used the assumed name "Stroog Von M" on the painting he painted and then displayed in his home to see what others thought of them?   I know!
From there I went to the Science Storms Exhibit.  SO COOL!     
I learned about the vortex of the tornado
Me - in the Tornado


80 MPH Wind Tunnel
Me in the 80 MPH Wind Tunnel
Then I learned about combustion and checked out the live-fire experiment which is based on a laboratory test of sprinkler systems
I turned the fire dial to HIGH
I think that besides standing in the tornado vortex the next best part of this exhibit was playing with the sun.  By controlling the amount of sun the solar panel received I was able to make my car voom around the track.
I'm the red car
From there I moved on to the tsunami portion of the exhibit
Water diffraction - watch the water ripple

This is the string waves, you can see the picture it's creating at the top in green
And then there was the avalanche disk
It's amazing to see solid material turn into a liquid like state while trying to "control" an avalanche. 
I also go to play with the hot air balloons and learned about convection.
From there I made my way to the Fab Lab
The Fab Lab Manager gave me a tour and I was blown away by what they have to offer to students.  Not only that, but what they are currently working on project wise to bring the fab lab experience to school classrooms.  Insane! 
From there I went back to the Pumpkin Pyrotechnics folks and asked them a few questions about what they have to offer homeschoolers like me.  Since they are with the Guest Experience group I figured they'd be a good place to start.  The Live Science Experience offers FREE hands on events daily, and there is a whole list of programs that are offered.  I'm liking the dissecting a cow eyeball one myself.  They then directed me to a very nice woman who explained to me all about the Learning Labs which are offered there.  She also reminded me to check out the homeschool section of the MSI website.  As well as confirmed the rummer that I heard that as a homeschooler, you could gain free admission to the museum by just filling out a form.  SCORE!  No more waiting for museum free days.
Though I was well aware that this open house was geared towards teachers in the non-homeschooling arena, I was a little disappointed in the lack of resources that were available to essentially non-CPS teachers.  I think that either a table with separate information for homeschoolers or possibly a homeschoolers open house would be a really cool idea.  Logistically I don't know if that is possible, but a table would be nice.
Overall, I had a very enjoyable night.  I learned a lot about what the museum has to offer, things that I did not know (which is good) and got to partake in some really neat exhibits.
Would I go back to the Museum of Science+Industry and use it as a resource for homeschooling?  YES!  The exhibits that are offered with general admission are really good.  Knowing that I can now gain free admission as a homeschooling makes the decision to go back even easier.   
Plus, I want to do this again
Thank you to the Museum of Science+Industry for having an Educator Open House!  For more information about admission and parking click here.  Directions?  Click here.

**Disclaimer - All opinions are my own.  I have not received compensation for this review.**

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